Straight-Talk Questions And Answers About Acting School For Kids

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Artistic Director Jeff Alan-Lee, whose students have included Scarlett Johansson and Shia LaBeouf, has taught and developed many of today's top talent. Jeff talks about his perspective and teaching philosophy in response to questions from parents interested in enrolling their children in acting classes in Los Angeles:

Question 1: When a student enrolls in acting school Los Angeles parents often ask, how does it affect his or her self-confidence? One mother asks: My daughter is painfully shy - would acting classes help her come out of her shell?

Jeff: If a child is shy I will have them play a shy character. This immediately teaches them that it's OKAY to be shy and that these emotions are normal, and even interesting, and people will pay money -- and I will pay money -- to see it on stage, or on screen. Because it's interesting to me, not as a Los Angeles acting school instructor per se, but just as a person. And then when the student realizes that being herself is acceptable on stage -- well not just acceptable, but remarkable -- then she'll gain a confidence, which is the first step: FEARLESSNESS. Then in the following semester, if they're feeling light and happy because they conquered that fear, then we'll give her a light and happy character and gradually they start wanting to try different roles and that is what puts them on the road to becoming an actor, a wonderful actor, a good actor with many dimensions, a broad range.

Question 2. My child doesn't want to be an actor necessarily, but I thought he might benefit in his everyday life if he built up his self-confidence and creativity through Los Angeles acting classes. But is the Young Actor's Studio the right place for him?

Jeff: Definitely! You never know how these kids are going to be affected by your class. The first example that comes to mind is a child who was just wonderful, his name was Scott. I taught him in a school in Brooklyn and he was this real spunky Brooklyn kid who had a ton of energy was hyper active, a pain at times, but very talented, and just loaded with energy - and he had done some really wonderful acting and he had studied with me for about a year and a half at this Catholic School in Brooklyn. And I had to take a leave of absence one semester when I was doing a show out of town, so I let the principal -- Sister Dolores -- know that I would be out the following semester, and she said, "I'm sorry, but you can't go, if you go I will break both your legs!" (she was a tough Brooklyn nun!) -- I said "Why?" And she said, "Because, Scott is doing fantastic." I said, "What do you mean, Scott's always been fantastic!" And she said, "No, I'm telling you he was always in detention before you came, his grades were at

C's and D's, I mean he was just wild - and I'm telling you, he has pulled himself around - he is getting B's, a couple of A's - he's rarely in detention anymore, and it's because of you." and I said, "Well that has nothing to do with me." And she said, "I'm telling you, it's because of you - and you don't argue with a nun!" So I said, "Ok, thank you."

But seriously -- I thought about it and I thought perhaps because in acting class he was allowed to be his own spunky, rambunctious self and it was in a constructive channel -- acting -- and be accepted, even applauded there, for being himself -- that he felt better - and so he could go out in his regular life and he felt motivated because he was praised for who he was. You're not praised for who you are in life, but on stage you are! So… if I had to say what we're all about -- it's giving the child a place to explore, and express themselves creatively in a constructive, nurturing environment... and because of that, they will benefit in their everyday life.

Because it's not about walking the "right" way, being proper, getting good grades, going to bed, getting into a good college -- it's about how they feel about the world, how they see the world!!!! That's what makes them special and acting nurtures what's special and unique about them. And life very rarely does that -- more than often it does not. And so it's by having this creative outlet, it allows them to grow in all aspects of their life.

For more information about acting classes in the Los Angeles area, please contact

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