HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
One day, my hubby and I were watching the TV show The Blacklist. In case you aren't familiar, the show features FBI agents that use handguns. I have that special skill listed on my acting resume.
One of the agents sometimes engages in hand-to-hand combat. I started to wonder about the actor's special skills. Did he already have these special skills on his acting resume, and did they help him get cast in the show? Did they train him after he was cast?
I'd like to play a federal agent or detective at some point. I asked myself, "What special skills should I work on to be more marketable to casting?"
Then I thought:
"Which acting special skills do casting directors love to see so I can work on one of those?"
I know that you're always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, Actor Boss, and special skills are a great way to do that.
What special skills do you have listed on your resume? Comment below and share. I'd love to hear!
Mine are currently fitness instruction (kickboxing/weightlifting), handguns, Southern dialect, and karaoke queen. No, I cannot sing, but I can perform the crap out of a song.
It's ok to have one fun thing, such as karaoke queen, as long as you can actually follow through on it. However, do not list anything that you can't perform in front of a camera such as fashion or travel.
In this post, I'll discuss the one special skill that you should be working on this year. I found it mentioned over-and-over again by casting directors when I researched the most in-demand skills.
I'll also share my favorite free tool to help you learn how to do it.
MOST POPULAR ACTING SPECIAL SKILL
Don't dismiss the rest of this post if you already have this skill.
The one special skill that you should learn this year is a foreign language. This is the acting special skill that casting directors consistently listed in interviews when asked which acting special skills they love to see. Don't forget to include sign language in this category, which has been used in multiple hit films.
Do you already know a foreign language? Comment to let me know what languages you speak. Why not learn another one, especially one that's similar?
How do you know which foreign language is best for you? I'm personally learning French right now because I took two years of classes in both high school and college. You'll be surprised at how much you remember! I could easily be cast as European, so most languages from that region suit my look.
Consider these criteria when choosing a foreign language:
You can also use your newfound foreign language skills to make freelance income as a translator or tutor. The average salary is $20 an hour. Translators are often hired by hospitals or government officials to help with cases, and there are a number of online tutoring services that allow you to work from home.
FREE FOREIGN LANGUAGE APP
Learning a foreign language is easier than ever.
I highly recommend the free version of Dulingo. The smartphone app is very user-friendly, and the desktop version has grammar lessons attached to each module. You can pay to eliminate ads, or you can watch the ads to earn gems and make "purchases."
I decided in 2021 to upgrade to eliminate ads. Why? I can always make more money, but I cannot create more time. The ads were a time suck in my day!
Duolingo has made learning a foreign language feel like a game. In the free version, you can only miss five answers before you lose all of your health. However, you can use your earned gems to purchase more. Trying to keep all of your health is a fun challenge, though.
They also offer cool badges that encourage you to learn. My next goal, for example, is to earn 100XP in one day, which requires me to complete ten lessons in a day versus my typical three. You decide how many lessons you want to do each day, and Duolingo sends you reminders if you want. It's stupid easy.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY METHODS
Here are a few effective study methods to help you quickly learn your language. These include:
The trick to using Duolingo is to finish multiple lessons each day from various categories. For example, I currently take one lesson per day in Food, Animals, and Weather as opposed to three lessons in just Food. That forces my brain to actually learn the words as opposed to just memorizing. I'm always surprised at how much I've retained.
I highly recommend that you read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. It's the best way to quickly add any special skill to your resume in my opinion.
Essentially, you'll need to block out a chunk of time, say four hours, and lock yourself in a room with zero distractions. That means no technology, which means no Duolingo, so you'll need to go old school and buy an actual foreign language workbook. The only other option is to use Duolingo in conjunction with an app that shuts down the other functions on your phone or desktop.
The best and only way to know if you're accurately speaking a language is to talk with a native speaker.
There are a number of internationally recognized groups that promote particular foreign languages. Better yet, try all three! You do not want to show up to an audition and be embarrassed if there's a native speaker in the room to test your skills.
FOREIGN LANGUAGES BY STATISTICS
EASIEST FOR ENGLISH SPEAKERS
According to Babbel:
BEST LANGUAGES TO LEARN RIGHT NOW
According to Busuu:
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE MOVIES
According to IMDb:
These have been sorted by user ratings. See the entire list of 50 Best Foreign Language films here.
You can also type "Top (insert foreign language) films IMDb" into your search browser to watch movies in the foreign language you're learning. Additionally, why not watch your favorite shows or movies again with foreign language subtitles for the language you're learning?
OVERLOOKED LANGUAGE POPULAR IN FILM
American Sign Language has been used in a number of popular films, so don't discount this language for your special skills. While there is no universal sign language, ASL is your best option for acting in the United States and Canada.
According to IMDb:
These have been sorted by popularity. See all 143 (!) movie titles that use American Sign Language here.
FICTIONAL LANGUAGES ARE AN OPTION
A number of popular TV shows and movies have fictional languages that you can now learn. Duolingo teaches both High Valyrian and Klingon!
Be sure to read Screen Rant's post with 13 fictional languages, plus links on where to learn some of them.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGES TO LEARN FOR JOBS
Want to make some extra moola with a foreign language in between shoots? There are ten languages you should consider.
According to FlexJobs:
Read more on FlexJobs here. They also list companies hiring for bilingual jobs on their site, plus a list of bilingual job titles that may help you decide which foreign language is best for your acting special skills.
MOST IN-DEMAND FOREIGN LANGUAGES FOR VOICEOVER
According to Voices.com:
Not sure which voice over languages are getting requested or searched for the most? See the top searches on Voice123 (different site than the one featuring the list above) here.
ACTORS SHOULD BECOME FLUENT
Should you learn only your lines in a foreign language? If you want to be in the ranks of actors like Meryl Streep, you'll become fluent. My acting coach told me this interesting fact about her performance in Sophie's Choice. Here it is on IMDb trivia:
"Meryl Streep not only learned a Polish accent but also learned how to speak German and Polish in order to have the proper accent of a Polish refugee." - IMDb
That's dedication. Are you willing to go beyond what's required of you?
What if your big break happens because of this newfound special skill? Comment and let me know which foreign language you want to learn.
Download the free Duolingo app today and browse through the language options. Pick a language and try the very first lesson.
You'll be hooked! You can also find friends to follow or compete with.
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Not sure what you should focus on in your screen acting adventures? I'm not only a screen actor, I'm a legit certified goals coach, so I've created three possible paths for you. Go here.
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.