Chapter 18 of 21 from Samuel L. Jackson

Growing Your Acting Career

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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.

Topics include: Student Q&A: Take Every Chance to Act • Student Q&A: Getting Un-Stuck • Choose Your Roles Thoughtfully • Get Creative in Stereotypical Roles • Set Rules for Your Agent • Prioritize Getting a Manager • Stick-to-it-iveness • Your Responsibility As an Actor • Everything Leads to Something Else

Samuel L. Jackson

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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Lessons

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 [SIGH] 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. [LAUGHTER] 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. For the first time, the Oscar nominated star teaches 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.

Watch, listen, and learn as Sam teaches his first-ever acting class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Sam will also answer select student questions.

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Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson Teaches Acting