Suggested Reading from an Actor / Acting Coach. Calm down everybody, just start with one.
As an avid reader, I’ve been deeply impacted by many books throughout my career. Some are books about acting, but many are books that have nurtured the artist in me and have opened my eyes to some wonderful tools for living my best creative life.
Of course I have to first suggest the book that I co-wrote with casting director, Catrine McGregor CSA. I find that the most common questions actors ask me are answered in this fun little nugget that is equal parts information and inspiration. I learned so much from Catrine in the process of the writing this book and I know you’ll learn a lot from our conversations about the biz.
The Actor’s Art and Craft by William Esper and Damon DiMarco
This is the most valuable tool in my toolbox. I believe this is a book every actor should read. This clear and inspirational breakdown of the work continues to teach me. I go back to it over and over again. Get it!
Audition by Michael Shurtleff
At this point, it’s a classic for the aspiring actor. The twelve guideposts should be printed and posted in the home or office of every working actor.
ACTING: The First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky
If the reading list is overwhelming, start with this fun read that should be in every actor’s book collection. It’s a lighthearted way to fall deeper in love with the craft and will make you want to commit to your own growth as an artist.
Audition for Your Career, Not the Job by Tim Phillips
My favorite thing about this book is the way that Tim Phillips talks about Sherlock Holmesing the text. Not only will this book help you craft a nuanced and emotionally alive performance, it’s filled with practical advice for getting the job done in the audition room.
Screenplay by Syd Field
I believe all actors should understand the basic elements of story, even if they don’t intend to become writers. Having this background will enlighten your process of creating a character, understanding arc, and knowing your role in the storytelling process. There are many books on the fundamentals for storytelling but this is a great place to start.
The ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron
The work of the actor is the work of the self, and I can think of no greater tool to self-discovery for an artists than this book. Buy this book and make a commitment to yourself to to discover and recover your creative self. I’m a daily practicer of Morning Pages and encourage my students to do them as well. I find that, at the very least, they help get the noise out of my head – and I have an extremely noise head.
The WAR of ART by Steven Pressfield
One of the most profound milestones of my own personal growth was my acceptance that resistance is part of the creative process. Knowing that it was universal took away a lot of excuses I was making to not give myself permission to create. This book is incredibly painful and nurturing at the same time. Read it and enjoy the ride.
The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
Actors should meditate! If you are struggling with a commitment to a regular meditation practice, read this book. It’s not necessarily about meditation, but reading it made me think about meditation in a different way and allowed me to commit to a practice that has been a game-changer for me. This book is soul food.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this book when I was in a very dark place and it helped bring me back to life by giving me a profound shift in perspective. I was able to let go of what I wanted creativity to give me and learn how to live a creative life just for the sheer pleasure of living a creative life. This book is delicious. Get it!
The book you don’t read
After reading one of the books from this list, please give me a full report on how it helped you by starting a discussion on the LosAngelesActingCoach forum. Is there a book that has impacted your acting journey that isn’t on here? Please share it with me. I’m addicted to books!