Member preview

15 Actors Share The Most Important Acting Tips Learned From Their Experience

I had the pleasure to reach out to 15 rising stars to ask them for their most significant acting tips. Their answers are recorded below.

Shantel VanSanten

Nils Erik

Who I Am:

Shantel VanSanten is an actress who radiates charisma. She can currently be seen starring opposite Ryan Phillippe on the popular USA series “Shooter” which will return for a third season this summer.

Born in Minnesota and raised in Houston, Shantel found her passion for acting upon moving to Los Angeles. Shantel first made an impression on an audience in the controversial drama, You and I, directed by legendary filmmaker Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields). The movie movie exposed her passion and power on-screen. Shortly thereafter she lander her first major TV role on “CSI: NY,” which was followed closely by her a series regular role on the hit series “One Tree Hill.” VanSanten’s success has continued to grow with lead and recurring roles on shows such as “Gang Related,” “The Messengers” and “The Flash” on which she played “Patty Spivot.” Some of her other film and TV credits include The Final Destination and Remembrance and the CW series “Beauty and the Beast.”

When not focused on TV and film projects, VanSanten is a devoted philanthropist. She volunteers with several organizations but her real passion is working the The American Lung Association’s “Lung Force” initiative. She got involved after the untimely passing of her grandmother, Doris Dooymea. She has spoken at several events and raised funds for research, education and to help the familiar of this affected.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1. Be honest

2. Be real

3. Do the homework.

Rebecca Field

Who I Am:

Rebecca Field grew up in the Berkshires in Massachusetts studying communications and theater arts in College. Following graduation, she furthered her training at New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre and performed in summer stock in Vermont, before embarking on a career in Hollywood. Remembered for her fan favorite roles of “Lacey” on Lifetime’s “The Client List” and “Janet” on the ABC drama “October Road,” Field has also recurred on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”, TNT’s “Hawthorne” and CW/BET’s “The Game” and racked up numerous guest appearances on television shows such as “Twin Peaks”, “NCIS: LA,” “Castle,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Criminal Minds,” “Mike & Molly,” “The Mentalist,” “Private Practice,” “Breakout Kings,” Drop Dead Diva”, “Alcatraz,” and “Monk.”

Field’s film credits include the upcoming Gus Van Sant film “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot” starring Joaquin Phoenix and “A Star Is Born” with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. “Horrible Bosses 2”, Universal Picture’s “American Reunion” and the independent feature, “About Fifty.” She also appeared in the R. Kelly “Trapped in the Closet” videos.

Field currently resides in Los Angeles.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

I would say a few tops for me are:

1. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN and react! It’s never gonna be real if you aren’t listening to the other person and just waiting to deliver your line.

2. Research — do your research and fill in the world of the character you are playing so you know them and the lines so well, no one can do it better than you and you can just ‘be’ in the scene as opposed to ever ‘trying’ or ‘performing’.

3. Go for it, take risks, be brave!! A good tip for life and for acting…just go for it, that bold choice, that thing that scares you, whatever…..GO BIG, OR GO HOME!

Kyanna Simone Simpsson

Who I Am:

Up and coming actress Kyanna Simone Simpson can next be seen on the highly anticipated CW/DC series “Black Lightning” which premieres on January 16th. She will also be opposite Matthew McConaughey in the upcoming Sony film White Boy Rick. She was most recently seen as the younger version of the lead character played by Oprah Winfrey, “Deborah Lacks,” in the Emmy nominated HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Simpson was born and raised in Decatur, Ga. In 2010, Simpson met Tony Vaughn (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns”) in a grocery store. She approached him and asked how she could get her start in the business. Since that day Vaughn has been assisting Simpson in her career. A few years later Simpson moved to LA to further pursue her career. She booked her first movie at the age of 16, “A Christmas Blessing”, playing the role of a gangster named “Raynesha.” Soon after she booked a recurring role on HBO’s “Show Me a Hero” playing the daughter of the lead character played by LaTanya Richardson Jackson. Some of her other credits include roles on NBC’s “Law and Order: SVU”, BET’s “Being Mary Jane” and several feature films, including The Archer.

When she is not on a film or television set, Simpson spends her time on pursuing her college degree. She is working towards a degree in Entertainment and Media studies, hoping to add “Director” and “Producer” to her resume in the future. :)

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

Tip #1: Always have a mini-stapler in your audition-bag! I don’t know how many times I’ve had to run around from store to store asking to borrow a stapler for my headshot and resume — Not fun, haha!

Tip #2: Do not be discouraged from rejection! I’ve learned that this industry is filled with 99 “No’s” and 1 “yes”. Sometimes a “No” could mean that there is a more fitting role in the script for you. That is how I got the role of Tasha O’Neal on HBO’S SHOW ME A HERO!

Tip #3: Please, follow your heart. Whether it be in character development or making business choices. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s better to not do it.

Benjamin Papac

Who I Am:

Benjamin has been acting since he was 13. He began his professional career as Albert on Season 5 of The Walking Dead. Benjamin has more than 30 episodes of Television under his belt after just three years, most notably Bale in S1 of “Into the Badlands,” on AMC, Max in “Broken Hearted,” from Season 2 of NCIS: New Orleans, on CBS, and the Matt on the CW SEED show “Saving the Human Race.” Currently, you can catch him as Max Miller on “Greenhouse Academy,” streaming on Netflix.

Benjamin also explores his interests in modeling, writing, photography and singing. You can keep up with him on Instagram: @thebenpapac

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1) Don’t Quit. Tenacity, patience, and diligence are the main keys to success in this career. People expect everything to come from a magical “Big Break.” And those happen. But they usually happen after ten years of hard work, heartbreak, and a lot of near misses. When actors don’t book a role, we usually don’t even get the word, “no.” We just get silence. You have to fight your way through thousands of silences until you hit that one day that the world shouts “YES. We want YOU.”

2) Keep learning. You are never done growing as an artist. Find actors and coaches that challenge you. If you’re the best actor in the room, you’re in the wrong place. And if you think you don’t have anything left to learn, you’re wrong. There’s nothing better than watching a scene in a class, and thinking, “I can’t do that yet, but I’m going to do it.”

3) Love. Love yourself. Love other artists. Love the work. There are going to be a lot of days when you feel inadequate, less-than, and completely ignored by the entire industry (including your reps). It’s really important to remind yourself that your value is not found in how your last audition went, or how many auditions you get. It’s in how you treat your loved ones, strangers, and yourself.

Broderick Hunter

Who I Am:

Broderick Hunter, known for HBO’s hit Show “Insecure” Starring Issa Raye and Buzzfeed’s “What Makes A Man Attractive” started his acting career coming off the peak of his modeling career where he faced brands such as Ralph Lauren, Phillipp Plein, Sean John and many more. He’s also been featured in People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, Harpars Bazzar’s “Top 25 people to follow” and GQ’s “Most Stylish Men”. Broderick caught the actors bug after his Italian GQ feature where he channeled his inner Ricardo Tubs for “Miami Vice 2.0” spread shot by Tony Kelly. Shortly after, he landed the lead role in Ciara’s 2012 single “Sorry” music video. He’s currently on the break of new tv shows and films this up coming year.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1.) Get out of your head.

That was the first piece of advice my coach gave me when I started studying. Which was vital for me because I would over think everything.

2.) Dont be afraid to look stupid.

I had to learn to embrace my inner fool all over again. I’d be so comfortable being my weird and funny self around people I was comfortable with but in the audition room or on set, but I’d turn that off and it’d dull me down. I had to learn to embrace myself all over again.

3.) Do the work.

Learn the lines. Do the character work. Stay in class. Invest the time. Do everything that is required.

Beth Hall

Jeremy Lee / jeremy lee

Who I Am:

Beth Hall is currently a series regular as the hilarious Wendy on CBS comedy “Mom” opposite Golden Globe and Emmy-winner Allison Janney. Wendy is one of Bonnie’s (Allison Janney’s) best friends that has a penchant for bursting into tears. Season five of the show is airing now. Previously, Beth was best known as Caroline, Roger Sterling’s eccentric assistant, on AMC’s award-winning show “Mad Men.” Beth has also appeared on “Jane The Virgin” and “Parks and Recreation.”

Originally from New Jersey, she currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their daughter Nina. Beth is also an avid poker player and regularly plays in celebrity tournaments around town.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

I think my most important acting tip would be to love what you do for the sake of performing, not for the glory. When you are acting for the love of it, it shows through. Second, be the person that people want to work with again. If you are a joy on set, the director, the producers and the other actors will all remember that. Don’t be the one who causes problems. Go with the flow. And, lastly, persistence pays off. I have achieved success after more than 20 years of working as an actor on whatever I could. Know that you have the talent and keep trying. It is not always easy to keep auditioning when nothing is happening, but it only takes one decision-maker to think you’re great to make a huge difference in your life. Someone is going to get that part. Why can’t it be you!

Isabella Amara

Who I Am:

Isabella Amara, an actress and vocalist, was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s veteran actress on both screen and stage. She stars in the lead role of Claire in Fox Searchlight’s ‘Wilson’(2017) opposite Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern. She plays Sally in ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017). Isabella played the memorable teen version of Melissa McCarthy’s character in ‘The Boss’ (2016). On television, she can been seen on ‘Nashville’ seasons 5 and 6 and ‘Atlanta’ season 2. Other upcoming feature films due out in 2018 include: ‘The Tale’ competing at Sundance Film Festival 2018, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and Netflix’s ‘Alex Strangelove’.

This will be Isabella’s second year at Sundance Film Festival with Laura Dern also in the same cast for both films.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1) Being Prepared and Flexible is Crucial in being a Professional Actor. I have heard horror stories of actors coming into an audition unprepared or set on one way of doing the scene. Even though you may not feel you’re right for a role, or even like it, you should always strive to leave your best impression. You may audition for a role, and not fit their vision, but, if you leave a good impression, someone may have a role or project they recommend you for in the future. Being prepared allows you to be more flexible and in the moment.

2) Create Your Own Technique. The best acting technique is whatever you create that works for you. I am a huge believer in trying out all techniques, and seeing what works best. During my sophomore year at performing arts high school, I found myself taking a required introductory Meisner class which I had studied since elementary school in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. There was one exercise we did in class, and when I tried it myself it did NOT feel natural. I felt like I was pushing my acting and nothing connected. Since then, I have trusted myself to tailor various techniques that work best for me creating my own technique.

Tip 3) Push Your Comfort Zone. When you are in a class or get an audition for a role you normally don’t do, play around with it vocally, visually and physically too! Chances are, after you take time to be the character you will not only feel confident in those type roles in the future, but more confident with your other auditions too. Usually when one has hit a plateau in their acting, pushing their comfort zone will take their acting to that next level.

Devon Ryan

Carlos Salazar Iii

Who I Am:

Devon grew up in a small town in Texas and currently resides in Austin, TX.

His acting & modeling career started when he started creating commercials for his technology startups. Since then, he has worked with big brand names such as theCHIVE, Ford Motors, TrunkClub, GSD&M and more.

He recently was featured on the television show Murder Made Me Famous.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1. Acting is “Re-acting”: The worst thing an actor can do is to be in their head, not listening and reacting to the other actor. To get out of your head, focus your attention on the other actor and pick out details about them, i.e. their eye color, clothing and tone of voice

2. Be relaxed to be made uncomfortable: As an actor, your job is to build tension with the other actor. This tension is what the audience comes to watch. The best way you can do this is to make yourself vulnerable.

3. Auditioning is a different beast: The audition process is different than acting. You have to book the room, not just the role. Understand that there are so many variables that are out of your control, so the best thing you can do is to show them that you are insanely capable, likable and easy to work with. By doing this, the casting director will find a way to get you that part or find another part for you. Give them your best audition and forget about it when you leave the room.

Paul Cram

Paul Cram

Actor Paul Cram poses for a fun photo in front of a circus-style background

Who I Am:

Paul is the charming underdog you see on screen possessing just enough grit to not be syrupy sweet. He’s been working in indie films for years, and more recently is coming into the light of mainstream films such as Fox Searchlight’s “Wilson.”

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1. Know your lines. If there’s one thing that helps my acting performances become amazing instead of just so-so, it’s knowing the lines. Seems so obvious, yet many actors don’t do this and I find it hard to play with them in a scene, to find nuance, because they aren’t off book. Same goes for myself, I can tell that I am skimming by if I am not off book. And that’s not what I want to do, I want to tell the story and emotional journey- I can’t if I am trying so hard to recall lines.

2. Don’t apologize so fast when you just performed a scene you think went awful. All too often at auditions, and occasionally on set, actors shoot themselves in the foot doing this. Do yourself a favor and shut up. Instead, focus your attention on if there is any feedback and look to the director.

3. Enjoy the entire process. Acting is stressfilled, auditions are grueling things to go through often, so it’s wonderful to be in a state-of-mind where I just know to enjoy myself in the audition rooms and meeting all the people along the way. We are all here to tell stories and hopefully entertain people while we do it. It helps me so much to “chill out” and with this mindset in auditions and on set around “super stars.”

Joe Gulla

Who I Am:

Joe Gulla is a regular performer at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. His new play “GAY.PORN.MAFIA” will headline the 2018 Downtown Urban Arts Festival in New York City. His play, “GARBO” won the 2017 Downtown Urban Arts Festival “Audience Award”. Previously, Joe’s “The Bronx Queen” won the 2016 DUAF “Audience Award”. ”Reel Wood“ written by Joe played the Summer 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival. As an actor, Joe played “Joey” in San Francisco’s “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” for many years and “Frankie” in Off-Broadway’s “My Big Gay Italian Wedding”. He also starred on NBC’s “LOST”, one of television’s first adventure reality series. Joe’s Website: JoeGulla.com

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

This is easy… use these and you are GOOD TO GO !!!! >>> TOP THREE ACTING TIPS: 1. Don’t act… react! 2. Keep breath spray in your back pocket. 3. … and most important… DON’T LOOK AT THE CAMERA!!!

Zondra Wilson

Who I Am:

Actress and Writer Zondra Wilson was born and raised in Cleveland. Zondra was educated in the Cleveland Public School System, where she developed a love for acting. Zondra graduated with a degree in Mass Media Communications/News from The University of Akron. Following graduation, Zondra went on to work as a news/sports reporter in the Midwest.

After several years of broadcast journalism, Zondra decided to follow God’s leading and venture out into Los Angeles. She made her television debut in 2006 with a guest starring role as a newscaster on the CBS hit daytime soap opera “The Young and The Restless”. Zondra went on to star in several independent feature films including the suspense thriller, “The Seer” opposite Bella Thorne. Zondra has landed leading roles in short films such as “Palms” and “My Name is Karma”. “Palms” went on to win the award for best drama in the short film category at the International Family Film Festival in Los Angeles. “My Name is Karma” has been selected for several film festivals including a win as best comedic short in The Atlanta Urban Mediamakers film festival and the prestigious Pan African Film Festival. She has worked with “World War Z” director Marc Forster and award winning director William Branden Blinn (Thirteen or so Minutes).

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1.) Belief in Yourself.

Belief in yourself comes with practice and built in confidence. Self help books on confidence are helpful and role modeling with family and other interested actors and actresses will also help in the critiquing process. Find out what you are lacking and need to work on to convince others you are the character you are portraying.

2.) Understanding the Character.

Not only must the actor understand the role of the character, but he must also be able to understand the script itself. Talking to the director and gaining insight on what the script is really about will help place the person in the right frame of mind when acting out his part of the character.

3.) Teamwork.

Everyone who takes part in a play or movie project have importance. Find a way to get along with others on set and find a way of letting others know that you appreciate their parts in the project.

Joshua Boyes

Who I Am:

Raised in Bay Point CA, Joshua Boyes has been engaged in Taekwondo for over 13 years. He currently holds a 4th degree black belt and is a certified martial arts instructor, a personal trainer, a film fight choreographer, actor and model.

Joshua is well-known and respected in the martial arts community for his exemplified knowledge in the tenet and application of his martial arts skills. He has a decade’s long experience in teaching, and choreography; as well as personal training. Joshua is skilled in Taekwondo, Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, and competitive, combative fighting.

Joshua’s 2017 debut into the big screen is with producer & director, Phil Gorn, with the movie entitled, “Enter the Fire”. He also is in the movie entitled, Notorious Nick with Cody Christian (from Teen Wolf), filmed in October. Both movies are currently in post-production coming out 2018.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

Tip# 1

Put yourself in the shoes of your character. When on set, envision yourself as if you truly are the character you play.

Tip #2

Memorize your script. Study your role. Practice by yourself (in front of a mirror) and in front of others. Passionately rehearse your role.

Tip #3

Have fun! As an actor, performing is in your element. Make it an enjoyable and positive experience for yourself and everyone around you.

Sonja Ann Jones

Innis Casey Photography, Innis C

Who I Am:

Sonja Ann Jones has been actively working in films, television, webisodes and national commercials as an actress and producer. She has had a recurring role as a nurse on “General Hospital”, booked a leading role in the pilot — “Transhuman”, and has appeared on many other television shows, films and commercials. A detailed list of her projects and more information can be found at www.sonjafisher.com and at IMDB.com. Sonja also holds a position on the SAG/AFTRA Women’s Diversity Committee.

On March 7, 2009, Sonja was crowned Mrs. Corporate America. Details can be found at www.mrscorporateamerica.com. She has competed in and judged many other pageants as well. She has appeared on talk and radio shows across the country empowering women everywhere especially in business, technology and entertainment. She was the headline interview in “Exceptional People Magazine” and has been featured in many other magazines and national publications such as “Redbook”, “New York Times”, “Yahoo”, “Pageantry”, “AAA Magazine”, “First” and the “Huntington Post” to name a few.

Sonja recently completed her doctorate at Argosy University in Business focused on entrepreneurship in 2013 and her dissertation was published with her ground breaking studies around Women in Information Technology Leadership. She also has been published in four different books which include “How to Break a Glass Ceiling without a Hammer”, “How to Survive When Your Ship is Sinking”, “Successful Women in Business” and “Corporate Queens, What Business School Won’t Teach You”.

Recently, Dr. Sonja Ann Jones founded a new company called “Nonstop 4 the Top” and she holds the position of CEO. Her company is dedicated to helping women succeed in entertainment, business and technology through public speaking gigs, consulting and coaching to empower women to get the benefits, pay and opportunities they deserve. Everyone has the right to have their dreams come true.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

Being an actress for 15 years, the top three tips I would have for any actor/actress is:

1. Never give up — If acting is your true passion and dream never give up! Remain persistent because most actors don’t make it for at least 10–15 years. It is a lot of hard work and lots of little steps that make someone successful it doesn’t happen overnight very often. So stick to your guns and keep working hard!

2. Be Flexible — It is essential with the times and changes in technology that you are also open as an actor/actress to embrace the changes of the industry. Things don’t seem the same too long so you have to be maleable with change. Embrace it and Identify the opportunities in the change and truly capitalize on opportunity when you can. The entertainment industry is a living moving industry.

3. Think Outside the Box — It is essential for actors/actresses to think outside the box both within their craft and in the business side of acting. To tap into your creativity to truly take advantage of opportunities, create opportunities and to network and create relationships with the right individuals. To be strategic in your career and remember be an actor/actress is being an entrepreneur/actorpreneur and knowing how to hustle for work and also toot your own horn to promote yours and your networks’ projects.

Janora McDuffie

062024014299

Who I Am:

Janora McDuffie is a west coast actor originally from the great state of North Carolina. Her most notable role was as “Social Worker Janet” in seasons 7 & 8 of Grey’s Anatomy. She’s booked episodes on The Fosters, Lie To Me and The Client List. Currently she plays the character “Milan” in the popular BlackAndSexyTV web universe. On this journey of dreams Janora makes sure to stop along the way to enjoy good wine, interesting podcasts and bacon. She is also a newlywed and a proud resident of Long Beach, CA.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1) Act — So many actors want to wait for someone to give them a job before they act. If this is truly your passion, find ways to be creative and keep your craft sharp on your own. If you can’t afford class, find a group of friends and run scenes. Do a play. Be an actor regardless of any paid title or credit.

2) The audition is not about getting the job — The audition is about making a fan out of the people in the room. You have no control over what happens after your audition. Maybe you were too tall, maybe they cut that role, maybe they gave the role to the director’s cousin. Whatever the case, all you have control over is your performance in the room. Commit to your choices and show up. Let the rest go.

3) Get a life — You will drive yourself crazy if you only eat, sleep and breathe this business. Being happy only when you are booking is a dangerous ride. Life is happening all around you. Make friends, get a hobby, read a book that’s not about acting. The more we can be well rounded as people, the less desperate we are the audition room because we are already living a full life.

Sandra Joseph

Who I Am:

Sandra Joseph is a history-making Broadway star turned inspirational keynote speaker and author of the new book, “Unmasking What Matters: 10 Life Lessons from 10 Years on Broadway.” Her legendary run as Christine Daaé in “The Phantom of the Opera” spanned 10 years, more than 1,300 performances and earned her the record as the longest-running leading lady in the longest-running Broadway show of all time. Today, Sandra is on a mission to empower other people’s voices through her work as an author, speaker and workshop facilitator. She is married to her “Phantom” costar Ron Bohmer. They currently reside in Southern California. For more information, visit www.SandraJoseph.com.

Here are the top three acting tips based on my experience:

1. Drop the mask. I once asked a casting director friend, “What is the number one mistake people make in auditions?” She said, “They either walk in apologizing or they go over the top.” Her answer made me squirm because I knew I’d been guilty of both. So many actors suffer from impostor syndrome, secretly fearing that we’re inadequate; there’s a tendency to try to mask our insecurity by either cowering or inflating ourselves. First and foremost, recognize that you are enough. The best actors are the most authentic actors. Your vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. Casting directors and audiences want to see your most open, honest, unmasked heart.

2. Stand in your “Field of Power.” When self-critical thoughts arise, it’s difficult to stay in that flow state we need to inhabit as performers. Be careful not to start looking back at yourself — judging and questioning: “How am I doing? Are they buying this?” In Tibetan, there is a wonderful word — “wangthang” that means “authentic presence.” It literally translates to “field of power.” The Tibetan teacher Chogyum Trungpa Rinpoche wrote, “The cause or the virtue that brings about authentic presence is emptying out and letting go. You have to be without clinging.” Stay with the thread of the scene rather than striving to prove yourself to anyone — including yourself!

3. Shift Your Perspective. After playing Christine in Phantom for almost a decade, I was having trouble keeping my energy up night after night. A dear friend made me what he called a “Perspective Box” — a small container filled with clippings from people who were somehow touched by the show. The stories blew my heart wide open and shifted my view. Remember the opportunity you have every time you play a character: you get to tell a story that has the potential to profoundly impact someone’s life.