The world of professional acting can be very difficult to negotiate, so many beginning actors seek out the advice and training of an experienced actor and mentor known as an acting coach. This person may offer group and individual training classes out of a professional studio or work independently as a freelance teacher or advisor. Many famous film, television, and stage actors have benefited from the advice and acting techniques offered by a talented coach.
Nearly all acting coaches start out as fledgling actors themselves, receiving the same training in the same schools as their future students. Many of the best also received additional training and experience by working with some of the world's most demanding professional acting companies, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Julliard School of the Arts. He or she has generally mastered many of the technical and emotional elements of the craft of acting before becoming an advisor to others.
For an actor, this individual can become the eyes and ears of a critical audience or casting director. The student may perform an audition piece for the coach, who in turn pays very close attention to all elements of the performance. If an actor's body language or energy level does not match the dialogue, for example, he or she may demonstrate a better way for the actor to move around the stage. A student actor may not enunciate certain words clearly, or else he or she may speak too quickly or too slowly. These are all technical issues a trained coach can help to correct.
An acting coach may also be hired by a production company to train non-professional actors, or to work on specific acting challenges, such as foreign accents or physical disabilities. Even an experienced actor may find himself or herself struggling with the motivations of a complex character, or unable to reach the depth of emotion required by the director. A coach can often act as a motivator or counselor for professional actors who need advice from someone familiar with the demands of acting.
Because the job requires a significant amount of background training and experience, an established acting coach can earn a substantial annual salary. Many professional coaches set up their studios in New York City or Los Angeles in order to be closer to their current and potential clients. People in this job often work in relatively obscurity, preferring to play a supporting role in the professional lives of their most promising students. It is not unusual for these individuals to accept smaller roles in film, television, or stage productions, however, in order to maintain their acting skills and to learn more about each style of acting.