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Four Questions Every Actor Needs to Ask: Video Acting Lesson

In your actor’s toolbox, you’ll develop and learn to keep many fundamental techniques that help you get into character and bring scripts to life.  In this video acting lesson excerpted from an advanced scene study class at 3-2-1- Acting school for kids, teens and young adults in Los Angeles, top acting coach Frances Welter discusses four questions every actor needs to know, ask and answer.


Hi there.  I’m Ms. Mae Ross from 3-2-1- Acting Studios, which I own, right here in Los Angeles.  Welcome.   

You may be on our teaching site, which is www.tophollywoodactingcoach.com.  We have an acting lesson for you today. 

Actors, you need to know what you are doing in the scene, who you are, what the obstacle is.  There’s a lot of great information that’s coming up next, and it’s being taught by my twin sister, Frances Welter, who is one of our top acting coaches right here at 3-2-1-.  And this is the type of things you need.  So, let’s take a look.


[CAPTION: 3-2-1- Acting Studios Advanced Scene Study, Acting Coach Frances Welter]

Here’s the four questions. 

What do you want in this scene?  What is my character fighting for?  I want to get that $5 from you or I want to convince you to, you know, leave the house.  I want to convince you to do my homework.  I want to convince you to, you know, lay down and go to sleep because I want to go steal something from you. 

And then, “how am I going to get that?”  I want that.  How am I going to get it?  I am going to get it by using a verb.  I’m going to tell you, I’m going to demand from you, I’m going to make you do something, I’m going to yell, I’m going to scream, I’m going to–  All verbs.  What are verbs?  What kind of words are they? 

Students:  Action.

Thank you!  Action words.  Action words.  Verb, verb, verb.  Come on in, honey.  So, that’s what your second question is, “How am I going to get it?”

And then the third question is, “What’s in my way?”  That’s an obstacle.  What would be in your way?  If I really wanted you to lay down and go to sleep, what would be in my way would be that you don’t want to go to sleep.  That’s the obstacle, and that tells me that I have to go through that obstacle, and I have to go up and over it.

Then I have to figure out, “Why do I need this?”  Why do I need her to go to sleep and lay down?  I need her to go to sleep and lay down because I need to borrow her senior prom dress to wear for my daughter.  I can’t afford it, I’m a waitress and I’m just in this small town and I know this girl’s rich, and I come in there like, you know, Aunt Fran…  “Hi, hi, hi.”  Oh God, you know, “go to sleep.”  And then I go ahead and steal the dress.  So, why, why, why did I need her to sleep?  It’s because I needed that dress because I didn’t want my daughter to cry.  Okay? 

So, let me do it one more time.  What is the character fighting for?  What do they want?  Two, how are they going to get that?  You know, to tell, to convince, to yell, to scream, to demand…  What’s in my way?  She’s in my way because she doesn’t want to do it.  And why?  Why is so important.  You know, I was asking somebody the other day:  “Well, you know, she wanted to do that.”  Why?  “Well, you know, she wanted to, just, you know, hide behind the gym.”  Why?  “Well, she wanted to meet her boyfriend.”  Why?  “Her boyfriend…  Oh, the boyfriend’s decided to go and call this other girl.”  Oh.  Why do you think–?  Everything is like, what’s going on?

So, thank you so much.  I’m Frances Welter.  That’s your lesson for today.


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