There is only one skill that matters for those who want to be actors

And it is a secret to your success.

Many of us have read the questions on Quora that begin, “How do I become an actor?” or a variation of sorts. There are tens of thousands of aspiring actors every year, and they are all longing for the secret of success. The first answers from those “in the business” will be things like, “go to a reputable theatre school”, “take classes”, or “get an acting coach”! I, myself, have been guilty of spewing these same words in the past to aspiring young actors who wanted my professional advice. That was then.

Time and experience have shown me many times over that the technical part of acting is not the most important skill or quality. Sure, it is great to work on your voice, expand your flexibility, and become a sleuth detective in your text work. These are all imperative if you want to be taken seriously by your colleagues, of course. But it is still not the crucial component, in my opinion, that will separate you from the rest. The one skill that will make you so versatile and open to any director in any production. “Lee, will you just spit it out for the love of all the theatre Gods!”…

Here you go: the most essential skill you can have as an actor is (drum roll please) to become an exceptional human being. Yup, that’s it. The big daddy of all skills to hone and perfect over your lifetime in the profession.

You must be so open, so non-judgmental, educated about everything under the sun, malleable, humorous, empathetic, sympathetic, generous, passionate, patient, forgiving, etc. Your job as an actor is to be able to step into any shoes. Your job is to be a muse for humanity. All forms of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. You must be able to step into these shoes with a neutral palette and be able to understand every intention and thought. You must breathe life into every character, no matter who or what they are. The only way you can get there is if you understand humanity better than anyone else. You must absolutely adore human beings. Your heart, your mind, and your soul must be so open to understanding every cell of this animal called homo sapiens. It is then, and only then, when you have mastered how human beings work and tick, that you can be of some use to your craft. After all, your job is to reveal all the qualities of the character. Your job is to show their complexities from head to foot. This is the key to an audience’s heart and a sure-fire way to catapult yourself into the top tier of your colleagues. Never mind the charisma, love, and attention you will garner from your peers who will be fighting to work with you.

Want to be a successful, respected, master of your craft actor? Work towards becoming an exceptional human being. Master yourself, flaws and all.



This journal brings together performing artists and their audiences, seeing the life lessons learned in the craft. Self-exploration and creativity are central to our mission, but we also look at theater, television, and film for sources of inspiration.

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Lee Samuel Wilson

Lee holds Canadian, British & Irish citizenship. He is an actor, director, dramaturg, professor, and artistic director.