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Arts & Entertainment

Growing Your Acting Career

Samuel L. Jackson

Lesson time 20:28 min

Sam walks you through the most important business relationships you’ll form as an actor, and offers wisdom on how to best work with them.

Samuel L. Jackson
Teaches Acting
One of the most successful actors of our generation teaches you how to elevate your acting.
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When people ask me why I work so much, I go, it's because it's what I do. It's like any acting opportunity is a great opportunity for me. You know, if I could get up every day and go somewhere and act, I'd be the happiest person in the world. You know, writers get up and write. Painters get up and paint. Why can't I get up and go act? - You've been quoted as saying that there is-- along your path, that there's no small role. - Right. - How has that evolved throughout your career, like, from start to where you are now? - Any day that I have an opportunity to go act for somebody, I take it. I go do it. And it's a corny, little statement. You know, there are no small roles, only small actors. But, you know, it's true. Every role is important. If somebody's got something to say or something to do, then it moves the story along. Um, but saying all that, I never worked as an extra. But that was because I was a stand-in for Robert Hooks when I was in college. They actually came to Atlanta and shot a movie, and I was his stand-in. I stood there while they set the lights and did the whole stand-in thing. And, you know, I ate when the actors ate. And, you know, people knew my name, and they treated me well. But I saw how they treated the extras. And I said, oh, shit. I ain't never gonna do that. I'm not gonna do that. I'm not going to eat last and stand in the rain and not have nowhere to go pee, you know, all that. You know, so I never did that. But, no, there are no small roles. You take every chance you can to act, and you never know who's going to see you doing whatever it is you do. Breaks come from nowhere. That's the one thing. Nobody can teach you how to get your break. Your break always comes from being in the right place at the right time. And nobody can teach you that. You know, and that whole luck is the perfect meeting of preparation and opportunity. If you ain't prepared when opportunity knocks, who knows when he be coming back that way. You know, so do it. Yeah, step up every time you can. - So you think even as far as, like, a business decision, you still shouldn't say no to a job? For instance, like TV is concerned, I feel like a lot of times in television as an actor you can get stuck in what they call a costar actor, somebody who comes in, says a couple of things, and that's it. So I feel like you kind of get pigeonholed in that, rather than being thought of for a top-of-show guest or a, you know, one-day guest star. So do you feel like it's still good to say yes to all of that, regardless of, like, being pigeonholed in a sense? Because in TV, you kind of get stuck. You know, if you let yourself, I feel like you can get stuck there, rather than saying, you know what? No, I'm not going to do cop number one. Thank you so much. I have plenty of cop one. I'm not gonna do it anymore. Thank you. - You can do that, if you feel like that's where it is. You know...

Get into Character

As a kid, Samuel L. Jackson stuttered so badly that he stopped talking for almost a year. Today he’s one of the world’s most successful actors, with roles in over 100 films, including Pulp Fiction and The Avengers. In his online acting class, the Oscar-nominated star shares how he creates memorable characters, powerful performances, and a long-lasting career. Learn to master auditions, analyze scripts, and find the truth in every role you play.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Just wanted to say I appreciate all the wisdom that Mr. Jackson shared throughout the course. I feel more confident than ever to go out here, and become a great actor.

It was both enlightening and practically oriented . . . Great insights

I feel so relieved to see an actor who makes his own technique, maybe combining more into one, that's what I liked the most about this class!

Everything i need to know to be the person i want to become.


R.G. R.

The idea of redefining the character, even if it's internally for how you want to play it, is on point. It helps!


Get 'Creative in Stereotypical Role' section is very useful, insightful and helps actors and filmmakers redefine the characters.

Shane H.

We don't know when or how our bread will come... "Your break always comes from... being in the right place at the right time, and nobody can teach you that!" - Samuel L. Jackson That is the absolute truth- so we keep going, looking for every opportunity we can.

Chris M.

Honestly, I think, acting comes down to talent. You could have no fundamental knowledge in the acting/film world and be an amazing actor. You just have to have the "gift" to make it into the menacing world of arts and entertainment. But what Sam teaches is so much more than fundamentals, it's life experience in an actors point of view.

A fellow student

All of what he said is so valuable. The journey becomes more and more of persistence

Sam B.

Acting is being...Surround all that with TENACITY!! Samuel Jackson gives his personal insights to the business of SHOW. The more life you have; the more you have to draw from... and share. Great profile of preparedness and opportunity meeting at the intersection. Thank you SJ

Frederick I.

Great advice. That’s been my approach too. Plus hearing the same advice from my actors workshop TSAW in LA


I loved this lesson. When it comes to a job...take it. We are given an opportunity that we cant afford to turn down. Lets just get employed! Keep the ball rolling and say YESSS.

Raub F.

Very similar to how I teach people to comprehend in reading. He naturally questions using the Socratic method. Any person would benefit from this class who want to be well rounded and get a deeper level of thinking and questioning. He’s well studied with purposeful intention and shares his strategies well all while being compassionate, positive and reflective. I appreciate Samuel for sharing.

John G.

These lessons are amazing. How lucky we are to learn about the art and craft of acting from one of the greatest of all time. More than sharing technique, he's sharing the spirit of what he does. Invaluable. These are also great life lessons, as well as acting lessons. I'm grateful for what he's shared with us.