To Train or Not to Train – Part II: How Chicago Actors can Compete with Actors in NY and LA

Last week we started exploring the conversation of whether or not an actor needs to continue to train through his or her professional career (read Part I of this series HERE).

This week, I’m taking the conversation a little deeper with my guest contributors from the Chicago acting scene and asking, “How can Chicago actors keep up with actors in New York and Los Angeles?” 

Training is Viewed Differently in Chicago than it is in NY and LA

Jimmy Carrane, Performer, Teacher and Author: “I took an on-camera class years ago, and in that class we had an actor who was in the touring company of Wicked when it was playing in Chicago. The guy had a big part in the show, and he was taking an on-camera class on his night off. He was similar to many actors from New York or LA, where it’s just part of the acting culture that you should always take classes to keep getting better. Chicago actors don’t think like that.” 

Brian King, Actor and Teacher at The Green Room Studio: “I do think the purpose of training changes from city to city. [Sometimes in Los Angeles actors] want to get in front of this or that teacher because that may be a way for them to get seen by this casting director or agent. 

“Because Chicago is a smaller community, the training is more personal, it’s truly about the acting and above all – it’s about creating a badass work ethic. We’re a blue-collar city and I feel like our actors have that mentality." 

“It’s also worth noting that people outside of Chicago are going to take notice of familiar training on your resume like Second City, Steppenwolf, etc. Those things stand out to people outside of the Midwest. And that’s great.” 

So, How can Chicago Actors Compete with Actors in NY or LA?

Sean Bradley, Actor, co-founder of The Green Room Studio and former casting associate: “They already do. How can any actor compete with other actors? Grow in one’s acting. You can ALWAYS grow, and so can your ‘competition.’ I’m not sure that for a full life competition should really be the main focus – but I do understand that people want to make money at the same time. 

“Learn more about the art, more about the areas you want to work in, pursue growth in your art, and a side effect is increased cast-ability.” CLICK TO TWEET!

Brian King: “Work ethic. Put in the work. Do the work. Like I said, never stop learning from everything around you. Don’t worry about getting the part, present your work and leave the room knowing you gave them your best. Don’t think about going up against LA or NY actors, a majority of those people aren’t even from LA or NY, you’re simply just going up against other actors just like you, period.”

Final Thoughts on Chicago Actors and Training

Michael McCracken, actor and founder of the Vagabound School of the Arts and former talent agent: “Continue to explore. I also believe it is important to learn from many different teachers and methods. That is why I encourage students to take classes from not only our school but others in Chicago (Green RoomBlack Box, Acting Studio, etc.).

“The way I teach a subject or technique might not connect with you until you hear it described another way from another teacher or of course vice versa. Not to say you can’t find a teacher/coach with whom you love to work, but as you continue your education, find teachers that are doing what you want to be doing and working where you want to work. There is no ‘one’ way to become a success in this industry.” 

Big thanks to Brian King, Michael McCracken, Sean Bradley and Jimmy Carrane for sharing their thoughts on this topic! 

And now it’s your turn. How do you feel about training and acting classes to continue to grow your skills and abilities as a performance artist? Where are your favorite places in Chicago to take class? 

Leave your ideas in the comments area below, and if you enjoyed this post, please share on social media! 

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy. Check out My BIG Year!