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The Industry
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Books about acting and the industry recommended by Spotlight staff.

Time spent sitting with a book is never wasted. It’s a chance to relax, contemplate, and absorb information entirely at your own pace. When we have time on our hands it’s also an opportunity to branch out and learn more about any number of topics.

There is a vast array of fantastic stories to learn from, be they from fellow performers, teachers, theatre-makers or people who can shine a light on what happens behind the scenes. We’ve read quite a few of them so we thought we’d share some of our book recommendations with you! Not only are these titles a great read, but you may also learn something that could help your career too.

Books by Performers

1. Character Breakdown by Zawe Ashton

Beginning her career aged six, Zawe has become a successful actor, playwright and director. Raw, honest and witty.

2. Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life by Michael Caine

A funny, touching and very personal account of Caine’s life and career, from the lows to the highs. Success and failure are deftly treated with humour.

3. Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

Inspirational and practical advice from Cranston, the Emmy award-winning lead actor in Breaking Bad.

4. Behind the Scenes by Judi Dench

A humorous and warm-hearted account of Dench’s long and hugely successful career.

5. What’s My Motivation? by Michael Simkins

RADA trained actor, Michael Simkins’ account of his stage and screen career. Lovely anecdotes and very accessible.

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey

Writer, actor and all-round funny woman, Fey shows how being a strong-minded person can get you results if you also put in the work.

Behind the Scenes Books

1. Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner

Running a theatre is not an easy task even when you have seemingly got all the requisite skills and adequate funding. A frank and inspiring story of how Nicholas Hytner and his team tried to broaden the appeal of theatre to new generations and audiences.

2.  Quentin Tarantino: Interviews

A fascinating collection of interviews with the colourful and provocative director of Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill.

3. The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman: My Life as Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman and Other Movies by Vic Armstrong

Legendary stuntman and second unit director Vic Armstrong reveals fascinating stories of how he started out and his time on top film sets. His stories show that stunt work is as much of a craft as acting.

Books about Acting Techniques and Tips

1. Stella Adler: The Art of Acting by Howard Kissel

The queen of acting coaches experience and teaching in an easy to read digestible 22 lessons.

2. Presence: How to Use Positive Energy for Success in Every Situation by Patsy Rodenburg

Renowned acting teacher Patsy Rodenburg shows how to engage with others, listen, think, learn and do business.

3. Secrets of Performing Confidence: For Musicians, Singers, Actors and Dancers by Andrew Evans

A professional musician and psychologist with extensive experience of coaching performers and creative artists provides insight into an inner confidence to help you with your performing career.

4. A Life-coaching Approach to Screen Acting by Daniel Dresner

Life coach and acting tutor Daniel Dresner combines life-coaching techniques with screen acting tools in this vital handbook, enabling actors to approach their characters and work with self-confidence.

5. Surviving Hollywood: How to Ensure the Acting Industry Doesn’t Chew You Up and Spit You Out by Julia Farino

A personal story by performer Julia Farino about her professional life in Hollywood with tips and practical advice for actors considering a move to LA for work.

Let us know what books have inspired you by getting in touch with us on Twitter @SpotlightUK.