If you're going to make your living as an artist, you're going to have to pay for training. Grad school is one option, though it seems expensive, it's the easiest because your competition has degrees and all the connections that come with it. Those folks have spent 2-3 years working on their craft 6 days a week, 8-10 hours a day while performing. In their final grad school years, they're meeting with all of the industry agents, managers and CD's, so that right after their New York showcase, they are picked up by agents and managers because all the Casting Directors and Network folks already know them. That's what you're up against and why it's so hard to even get seen without an MFA in NYC. The good news is becoming a working artist is not some mystery or sheer good luck. It's a business strategy. You need to have what your competition has, lots of training and performance experience and industry contacts. It's no different from becoming a lawyer or a doctor, you have to play the game as it exists. You can create a career in which you pinpoint which part of the industry you want to work in and then get teachers and mentors to coach you privately to develop the skill-set for your desired place in the industry. You're not accruing tons of student loan debt, but instead paying as you go to acquire specific skills. How long do you train with folks? Well, if your competition has 3 years of training on you, then you need to mirror that in your private training. The good news is that you can focus your private training on one area of the industry. (i.e. acting for film, classical theatre, acting for primetime TV).
Dream on, Dreamers,
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April Yvette Thompson