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Drama 101: Top 8 Acting Schools in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a haven for those desiring to embark on a journey into the acting scene. The city provides a multitude of opportunities and connections. LA is one of the best places to make some real moves in your acting career.

Nonetheless, we cannot ignore how close to impossible taking on LA on your own actually is. Because the industry is saturated, trying to learn the ropes of the LA acting scene will take more than just your own efforts.

Drama and acting schools can function as a wondrous stepping stone. This is why finding a worthy school is crucial to your success as an aspiring actor. Enrolling in an acting or drama school is the second step. You need to know what goes into a good acting school, and there are several factors to consider.

What acting techniques do you want to learn? What is your niche or specialty? Do you want to study for the stage or solely TV and film?

These factors will influence your decisions, so we decided to help out and do some of the heavy lifting for you.

Here’s our complete list of the top eight drama and acting schools in Los Angeles.

1. Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre

Overview: The Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre has the most notable alumni on this list.

Miss Adler trained some of the world’s more celebrated and notable actors of all time. Starting with Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert DeNiro, and Benicio Del Toro, just to name a few. These actors credited Miss Adler for their talent and successes.

Furthermore, Adler personally trained under Konstantin Stanislavski, later popularizing his method for generations. 

Flagship Program: The Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre offers a variety of different programs. Each program is unique to your goals as an actor.

However, we believe the school’s Two-Year Program to be one of the most valuable. It is ideal for an actor looking for something both intensive and immersive. Students apply to this program just as they would for a university, with tuition paid per term if needed. 

Cost of Tuition: $35,900 total for the two years, six terms 

Duration of Program: Two-year program, 24 months total

Instructors: Instructors vary per chosen program

Famous Alumni: Marlon Brando, James Dean, Robert DeNiro, and Benicio Del Toro

COVID-19 Considerations: Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, The Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre is currently holding their programs online. For more information, please visit the “current schedule” page

2. Andrew Wood Acting Studio

Overview: Andrew Wood is an MFA graduate from the Yale School of Drama and has his Ph.D. from Stanford University. Wood founded his acting studio in 2004. His intention was to expose students to the acting methods he encountered as the MFA Director of the Yale Drama School.

Students at the Andrew Wood Acting Studio train with an emphasis on dedication, excellence, and intensity. Character development is their primary focus. 

Flagship Program: Wood offers two programs, the Essentials Workshop and Advanced Workshop—the Essentials being the keystone for actors looking to step into the scene. Students train in the Stanislavski approach, concreting their skill in the framework of the script and development as the character and the actor. 

Cost of Tuition: $640

Duration of Program: 10-week course 

Instructors: Andrew Wood, with guest teaching associates Leah Zhang, Beth Gudenrath, and Chris Lang

Famous Alumni: Cris D’Annunzio, Evan Bittencourt 

COVID-19 Considerations: The Essentials Workshop is currently being held online

3. Berg Studios  

Overview: Gregory Berger-Sobeck is a graduate and former acting faculty member at the Yale School of Drama. Berger teaches bi-coastally in both Los Angeles and New York, as well as teaching workshops internationally in London, Paris, Sydney, and Tahiti.

Students at Berg Studios learn a variety of techniques, concentrating on the unleashing of the imagination and cultivation of behavioral work. 

Flagship Program: Berger specializes in a twofold approach by “first providing the actor with tools to make choices from the text, and then leading them to find their own spontaneous behavior.” The studio offers two programs, on-going classes, as well as curated workshops. 

Cost of Tuition: Both Berg’s classes and workshops vary in cost. Workshops go from around $280-$325 while classes range from $280-$2,500

Duration of Program: Workshops are four-weeks long. Classes are from 1-12 month durations, leaving the option open to the student

Instructors: Instructors vary depending on the given chosen workshop and/or class

Famous Alumni: Lupita Nyong’o, Riz Ahmed

COVID-19 Considerations: Currently offering online classes and workshops

4. American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles 

Overview: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles is a university program, so it does require a completed application ($50 application fee), a high school or college transcript, a personal reference letter, a dramatic reference letter, and an audition. This program is full-time, perfect for individuals seeking an immersive two-year performance-based experience.   

Flagship Program: The AADA Conservatory Program is a full-time education program that prepares students for a long-term, lifelong career both on stage and on the screen. Admission is competitive, but the payoff is an “educational journey of discipline, exploration, and self-awareness, upholding time-tested and innovative techniques of expressing and harnessing truth in all performances.”   

Cost of Tuition: $36,000+ 

Duration of Program: Two years

Instructors: Matt Neves, Judith Bohannon, Betty Karlen 

Famous Alumni: Jessica Chastain, Paul Rudd, Adam Scott, Anne Hathaway, Robert Redford, Danny DeVito, Gail Fisher, Adrien Brody, and more. 

COVID-19 Considerations: AADA offers virtual campus tours and an online summer program. Details regarding the university’s health and safety regulations can be found here.

5. USC School of Dramatic Arts

Overview: Offering programs for undergrads, graduates, and for professional development, the USC School of Dramatic Arts is another university program perfect for students seeking university-level training. Students of all levels train in their chosen area of interest, providing you both range and specificity. 

Flagship Program: Undergraduate, Graduate, and Summer programs are all unique programs that are dependent on your prerequisites. Due to this program fees vary, but each entails a traditional university admission process. 

Cost of Tuition: Varies—refer to the individual program pages to determine tuition and fees

Duration of Program: Varies—refer to the individual program pages to determine tuition and fees

Instructors: Varies—It depends on the chosen courses of the student

Famous Alumni: Patrick Adams, McKinley Belcher III, Troian Bellisario, Todd Black, and more. 

COVID-19 Considerations: Classes are currently held online. For more details for COVID updates, visit this page

6. Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio

Overview: The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio offers sessions in Scene Study, Meisner Program, and Beginning Acting Program, and more, providing you specific disciplines to hone your talent.

The studio is dynamic in nature, training professionals in the art of drama. This studio is for those who are naturally disciplined, spontaneous, and encouraged by a challenge. 

Flagship Program: “The truth of ourselves is the root of our acting.” – Sanford Meisner

Recognized as one of the most effective acting techniques of the modern age, the Meisner Technique is the foundation of the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio’s discipline. Admission into the studio is through a personal interview. To request more information, access this page here.    

Cost of Tuition: $650 

Duration of Program: The Meisner program is six weeks. The studio offers sessions in the summer, fall, and winter.  

Instructors: Chris Bensinger, Diana Jllinek, Jordana Oberman, Caitlin Rigney, Alex Egan, Jordana Oberman, Thom Rivera, Ken Weiler, Michael Yurchak, and Elizabeth Mestnik. 

Famous Alumni: Sharif Atkins, Jessica Bishop, Jeannie Bolet, and more. 

COVID-19 Considerations: The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio is currently hosting two acting programs online in consideration of COVID-19. They’ve dedicated this page to information regarding the programs. They are continuing to add to their online offerings. 

7. Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio 

Overview: Among several acting studios on this list, the Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio has a wildly acclaimed alumni. Aaron Speiser and Shanna Sturges have been operating as one of the best acting studios in Los Angeles for over 30 years. Their focus is training their students specifically for television and film, and they waste no time in getting their students prepared for the screen and headed into Hollywood. 

Flagship Program: The Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio offers courses in Technique, Scene Study, Private Coaching, and Improv. They do so both in-person and online via Zoom. Their flagship program is their Beginning to Intermediate course in Technique.  

Cost of Tuition: $800 for Technique Program

Duration of Program: The Technique Program is six weeks, proceeding the course in Scene Study. Most students are to first commit to Technique prior to continuing over to the Scene Study series. 

Instructors: Aaron Speiser, Shannon Sturges, Indrani DeSouza, Deena Freeman, and more

Famous Alumni: Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Gerald Butler

COVID-19 Considerations: The Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio is currently offering an online course for the Technique Program via Zoom in consideration of COVID-19. To reserve your spot or for more details, contact the studio at info@speisersturges.com.

8. Lifebook Acting Academy 

Overview: Allen Levin’s celebrated Lifebook Acting Academy is more than just a school—it’s a community of supportive and dedicated artists with a common goal of learning their craft and collaborating for the spirit of acting and drama.

Allen Levin founded his studio with the goal of providing a “launchpad for artistic communication and a place for real inspiration.” Many of his students create long-lasting relationships both in the studio and in the industry, ensuring the success of their peers. 

Flagship Program: Lifebook Acting Academy offers three different programs for three varying students: All Levels, Advanced Class, and Non-Actors & First Timers.

The standout program for you would be dependent on your level and desires. However, we believe the Advanced Class to be the standout due to its focus on leadership as an actor and on providing the tools you need to pursue a long-term career as an actor.    

Cost of Tuition: Lifebook Acting Academy cost of tuition varies depending on the number of weeks desired to take. They range from $225 to $575. 

Duration of Program: Programs start at one or two classes per week for four weeks to one class per week for 12 weeks. 

Instructors: Allen Levin

Famous Alumni: Chrystee Pharris, Fern Field

COVID-19 Considerations:  Lifebook Academy hosts a Zoom class on Tuesday evening and have limited in-person attendance (RSVP needed) each Saturday

Choosing the Best Acting Schools in Los Angeles 

Choosing the best acting school in Los Angeles requires research and consideration. Each of these programs offers plenty of opportunities, however, each of them serves specific needs and desires catered to different individuals. We recommend following up with whichever acting and drama studios caught your eye.

Regardless of which school you decide to pursue, enrolling in an acting studio is an investment into your future success as an actor. Acting and drama studios provide you with the tools and skills needed to stand out and succeed. Acting schools provide you with opportunities, connections, and support systems of like-minded individuals who are willing to take a chance on their dreams. 

Are you interested in diving into your career as an actor today? There are endless opportunities available online. One career path a lot of actors are keen on pursuing nowadays happens to be voice acting.

Get Started in Your Career

No matter what career path you take or which acting schools you choose, we at Voices want to give you a platform to shine. We are the world’s top marketplace for voice over talent and would love to help you get started by showcasing your voice today.

Voices is the perfect vehicle to gain traction in this industry.

What programs caught your eye? We’d love to know in the comments.

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