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  • Ryan R. Williams

Actors Beware! This 1 Thing Will Block Your Oscar Level Work



This is straight up advice from me, Ryan R. Williams, acting coach to multiple Academy Award Winners and a guy voted LA’s Favorite on-camera acting teacher by Backstage Magazine

Most of you reading this are too damn lazy and ill informed to hear me. I’m going to say it anyway. And THIS IS GOING TO GET ME IN TROUBLE.

But, I’m going to say it loud and clear for those few actors I can save. If you disagree, please leave an informed comment. That is assuming you are not too lazy to read this short article.

I want to hear from those that would defend the ridiculous form of actor training that I will here denounce.

LET ME CONFESS SOMETHING…

I have been on long phone calls with other top acting teachers. The biggest in the world. You know who they are. They have all tried to get me to join them. To teach at their schools. To go over to the dark side.

On these phone calls, I have heard them openly admit, behind their students backs, that it is all about enrollment. Not about actor training. I had a top acting coach, one of the alleged greats say, and I quote, “who cares what you tell them, nobody will make it anyway.”

Well, I have seen my students make it. So forget her! I am going to say it now:

COLD READING CLASSES ARE THE BIGGEST PILE OF CRAP EVER FOISTED ON YOU! You will never get to the Oscar level work if that is the only way you train. Every second you spend in a cold reading class is a total waste of time.

Let me say that again in another way.

Worthless and sad classes where you sit there and cold read in front of greedy instructors and even more disengaged fellow classmates are going to ruin you.

Think of the number of times you have been called upon to cold read professionally. How many times does this actually happen? I have taught hundreds of students in my private, weekly acting classes at Screen Actors System. Some are Oscar winners, movie stars and series regulars. Some are regular working actors and some are beginners.

NONE of them have ever said that they have performed a professional cold read more than a handful of times.

When will this cold reading happen? At a table read? Great, you already have the part. At an audition? Once in a blue moon.

The worst part is that you will develop a long list of bad habits. They will become anchored in you. You will never discover how top film performances are actually created. And you will fail. Like so many before you.

But don’t worry. You were good for enrollment while it lasted.

So let me ask you a serious question. Why the hell are you constantly training—every damn week in lame classes all over town—to master a skill that you will almost never use? Why are you paying to create bad habits you may never break, and must surely break if you are to make it.

You may say, “my cold reading teacher has a bunch of famous students, they made it.” I am telling you they found a way despite their awful training to succeed. And most of them are young, and yet to prove they can go the distance. It may still catch up to them.

In my classes, we train by filming you in front of 4k production cameras with cinema style lenses. Doing on-camera intensive drills designed to reveal the truth of this process. We shoot on location. And we even let you keep the footage for your reel, why not? We do scene study with cinema in mind. You prepare these scenes with your scene partners all week. You work many times every week. As many times as you can properly prep. You are busy doing the work that must be done to make a real move. It is hard. And intense.

There are no easy answers at Screen Actors System. That is because there are no easy answers in the actors life. Just lies.

Cold reading is pure fluff. If you perform a scene that you got that day in your acting class, you are kidding yourself. You are playing the wrong sort of make believe. That is not the way to learn how to do this.

I have directed four feature films, dozens of music videos, television and countless commercials—so I know that rewrites can happen. And pages can be handed to you on the day. So what?! You will still go into immediate and total preparation. This is NOT a cold read. It is the same work you should always be doing on a shortened timeline. So you must repeat a system of preparation such that even when time is short, you can still make a finished product happen.

Quit that putrid cold reading class immediately!

And for those instructors out there who follow my work on Backstage, stop ripping off young dreamers. In the end, it is your own dreams that will be destroyed. I have the inside scoop on this, from being one of the top acting teachers in Los Angeles. I can say this with 100% certainty. The people who promote cold reading classes are offering easy answers for slackers who will become long shots at making it in this profession. And in the end they have done this to themselves by enrolling.

At Screen Actors System, and as for myself, Ryan R. Williams, we don’t buy it!

For more articles by Ryan R. Williams you can read his blog or his writing at Backstage Magazine. That is if you are interested in the correct approach to film acting, and not triggered. SaveSaveSave

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