Although many would argue that right now is a tough time to be an artist (and there may be some truth to that), this is also a great time to take a step back and work on aspects of your craft that usually get neglected. With the typical grind of classes, auditions, and making enough money to stay afloat, one of the areas that often goes unnoticed is the special skills section of your resume. While those dance or tennis lessons you took as a kid may be helpful for some jobs, why not expand your marketability by adding one (or more) of the highly sought after skills below to your acting arsenal. The best part is that you can learn them all safely from the comfort of your own home!
Master Your Dialects
Take a good long look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Could you play someone Latinx or Scandinavian? Play into that! Don’t let yourself be limited by your native accent. If you could reasonably be seen as Irish then master that accent. Don’t give the casting team a reason to say no. There are a multitude of great online resources to help you learn your new dialect.
- Accent Help is an online resource created specifically for actors looking to master a new accent. With a detailed database of nearly 50 accents ranging from your standard RP British to more niche accents like Gullah and Rural Pennsylvanian, Accent Help has something for everyone. Most of their all inclusive packages are between $15-$25 and include MP3 recordings of lessons and a PDF follow along. They also have discounts if you buy more than one package at a time.
- Paul Meier Dialect Service is another resource created just for actors. With just about 30 accents to choose from this is another great option for learning a new dialect with unique options like Birmingham and Yiddish. These lessons come in an ebook or Itunes audiobook format for about $29.95 each accent. This service is a great option for someone who learns best out of a book.
- The Accent Coach is a great option for those who have a little bit more to spend. With this service you work one on one with an accredited and experienced accent coach to really hone in on very specific sounds and accents to help create your own personal accent repertoire.
Learn a New Language
Another way to use your time at home wisely is to take your accent work one step further and learn a new language. A second (or third or fourth) language is a great asset to any actor’s arsonal. Again, think about the roles you could reasonably play and go from there. A pale blonde actress could benefit knowing German and an asian actor could become more marketable with an understanding of Manderin Chinese or Japanese. The best part about learning a new language is that you can do a bulk of the work for free. Duolingo is an incredible learning resource with over 90 languages available on their app and they are all completely free!
Invest in an Instrument
While an instrument is less commonly needed than an accent or language, basic knowledge of the piano or guitar certainly couldn’t hurt your odds. You could open up a whole new market for yourself with the many roles that require instrument comprehension. This skill is especially helpful for strong singer/actors. Once you purchase the instrument you can usually find lessons for free or at an incredibly low rate online through Youtube and other online video networks. A good resource to start with is GuitarLessons on Youtube.
Skateboard or Roller Skate to Your Next Job
With the rise of nostalgic shows and movies set in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, roller skates and skateboards have received a lot more screen time. Actors with these skills have a significant edge over the competition. Why not raise your chances of getting cast in colorful 80’s dramedy and have fun in the process. You can buy used skates and boards through online resale shops like Ebay for seriously discounted prices.
Enjoy Some Improv
Some would argue that this last suggestion is not just a special skill but a necessity that every actor should have in their toolbox. Improvisation is a skill that when used right can help an actor get out of their head, be spontaneous, and live in the moment. It is also a great life skill to have in that it builds confidence and social skills (which are both great skills in the audition room). There are many schools that are offering online Improv. Classes at a discounted rate.
- Second City Improv is offering online classes either live with real classmates or in a prerecorded format to hone improv skills around your schedule. Second City was the training ground for many Saturday Night Live actors and they have many class offerings for all levels, whether you’re a pro or you’ve never studied Improv in your life.
- Groundlings also has a wide variety of online classes to meet you where you are in your training. Some of their current offerings include Improv for Film/TV Acting, Online Improv Scenes, and Improv for Business.
- Moment Improv is a great find for the money conscious actor. The studio focuses on only improv so they really know what they are doing. They offer free drop-in Improv classes every Monday and Friday 5:30-6:30 (PST) along with weekly online classes if you are looking for a more personal approach.
Even mastering just one of these skills will open up many more casting opportunities than you had before. Plus honing your English accent or exercising on roller skates is a nice change of pace from your daily Netflix binge. However you spend your quarantine is valid, but with these options, you can use this time to your advantage and advance your career all from the safety of your own home.