There are a few books that I return to over and over, year after year, that always inspire and help my acting career. Either helping with my technique and portrayal of a character, or my approach to the business itself, these books never let me down. These are my acting bibles. It always amazes me that I can read a book two years later and can learn something completely different from the first time around.
So, if you are an actor person or are just starting out on your acting journey, put these on your reading list:
This is a recent acquisition but instrumental in the construction of a solid career. Dallas is such an inspirational person and can make every hurdle into an opportunity. Some of the best, most helpful, and USEFUL career advice, all in a tiny book!
This was a lucky find at the Goodwill of all places. Best dollar I ever spent. This breaks down camera acting better than any other book I’ve read (except maybe for #6 or 7). Brestoff takes you on a fictional narrative that guides you through how to be professional on set, and make the best technical choices for your performance. This is a great investment.
Another great one for navigating the business of acting. She takes you through the techniques of auditioning from the perspective of a casting director. If you are in the trenches of the business, this book will help you through them.
Anne Bogart is an amazing voice in the theater and I always put down her books feeling utterly inspired. This book and her Director Prepares should be read by any performing artist.
This is a great book to explore character through physicality. It can be pretty dense, but yields pretty great rewards. Let go of any traditional concepts of character and dig in (pun intended)!
This is like a beginner’s guide to camera acting. All the nuts and bolts broken out so you can see and understand them. The second half focuses on the actual life of an actor, which ain’t always pretty. I have read this book at least three times and can’t wait to read it again.
Who doesn’t love Michael Cain? This is this acting legend’s advice from his long career. Humorous, frank, and full of anecdotes and tips. A must read.
Cold reading is scary. This book breaks cold reading down and makes it manageable. It’s a short book, so take and hour or two and study up on your cold reading skills.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Jory and he practices what he preaches. The book consists of short, single page tips on process, and practical advice in rehearsal and performance. All theater actors, especially students, should own this book.
Not everybody likes Mr. Mamet. And not everyone likes this book. I love it and love how bold he is in talking about theater and craft. If you want to shake things up, give this one a go.
How do you book gigs? You audition. It may be the hardest thing actors ever have to do (besides their taxes), so you should be well educated on how to make the most of them. These simple steps have helped generations of actors and is another necessity for every actors library
This has become the unofficial bible for managing yourself. It definietely merits several reads though as it is dense with info, yet Bonnie’s writing style is fun and engaging. This is a must for your acting library.
I have read this over and over and over again. The book is essential for anyone in a creative profession. This gets to the heart of the mindset battle we all face as artists. I also recommend his books, Turning Pro, and The Warrior Ethos.
Whew, got all that? Take them one at a time and let yourself be open to any ideas or advice that strikes you as you read. Those are the things you need to hear in this moment, and will inform your work right now.