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  • Elly Norris

5 Must-Read Books if You're an Actor

It should come as no shock to you that reading about acting is one of my favorite things to do. It's a way to learn from the greats: even if they are no longer with us, their words and lessons are immortalized in their books. I just finished a few books during this last year, thanks to finally having time because of the confinement. Here are some of my favorites:


1. Stella Adler's The Technique of Acting - now, I'm not sure how accessible this book is, but if you're able to get your hands on a copy or a PDF version, read it all the way through. Stella included numerous exercises to help you work your sensory muscles and advice for getting into a character. Some of the advice was a bit dated, but overall I enjoyed the exercises and got a lot out of this book.


2. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way - this book is for anyone in a creative field, not just actors. It's essentially a 12 week course that you work through at your own pace, with lots of homework and exercises to get you to tap into your inner creative.


3. Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic - this book changed my life and the way I see and think about creativity. One of my biggest takeaways from this book was that if you put pressure on yourself to make your creative pursuit your only way of making an income, you risk this pressure actually causing you to lose your creativity. Basically, it's always important to have a backup plan or another way of earning income (and this can be creative - photography, graphic design, etc.). As an actor, you skills can easily transfer to things like corporate coaching and audiobook narration.


4. Uta Hagan's Respect for Acting - this is the best book on acting that I have read so far. Uta included a number of exercises to follow and try out - I've been able to do some of them in my acting class, and they all build off of each other. I have found that her exercises help you really get into the space of where you're acting and placing your focus on what is around you in the scene.


5. Rob Ostlere's The Actor's Career Bible: Auditioning, Networking, Survival and Success - if you are just starting out as an actor, or you think acting might be for you, I suggest you read this book. It is filled with so many tips from making the perfect self tape setup to how to break up with your agent. While it is mostly focused on the UK market, actors from around the world can find useful information in this book!


If you are interested in reading any of these books, you can see if there are copies available at your local library, or at your local bookstore. Try to avoid shopping for books on Amazon, if you can help it! ;)


What are your favorite books on acting? Have you read any of the books I recommended? Let me know in the comments below!

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