Johnny is currently on faculty at
David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University
where he teaches the final year MFA actors
The Art of the Self-Tape
A common obstacle for beginner actors is not knowing what you're responding to every moment you're in circumstance. Acting is reacting. You've heard that forever. But what are you reacting to? Inputs. Whenever you’re not responding to something that you can believe, you lie to us. If you don't receive an input that you can believe, neither you nor we will believe your reaction—be it a line, a movement, or a thought. Sometimes, truthful inputs are clear as day. Other times, you have to search for them or build them for yourself. When we expand our imagination to receive and respond truthfully to all the inputs available to us, you will never again have that desperate feeling of only having your lines to say when they were written for you to say.
Review circumstance, objectives, actions
Learn the three categories of inputs
Input building exercises
Strength in stillness
CD-Changer Exercise (short contentless scenes performed in different genres)
Pre-req: College or studio level Acting I
To get a job, you first have to know what the job is. Series regular, guest star, co-star, procedural, multi-cam, single-cam, serialized, film. What exactly is the job? Your current relationship to truth must match that of your viewers. Your performance that feels truthful to you in a musical or a farce will not feel truthful in a subtler medium. If you approach an emotional procedural guest-star like you would in a play with a 5-week rehearsal period, you're not going to get there. If you don't hit the sharpness or brightness or amount of distortion required for a multi-cam, nobody laughs. If you can only react truthfully to a strong actor acting with you, you'll be in trouble when paired with a zombie reader or a blank spot on a wall. Here, we'll continue to bolster your imagination, maximize specificity, and learn to give ourselves a great starting point. You have hours to prep actual self-tape auditions—efficiency counts. We need good fundamentals to begin with complete truth. Then, we'll learn what camera-ready means to casting and producers and create a dynamic ride for them with choices we can justify. If we re-train our existing talents and skills towards the specific job at hand, we will book more work.
Memory Exercise for vulnerability in drama
Levity, distortion, precision for comedy
Audition vs. Production
Think like a Producer
Script analysis is Puzzle-making
Two contrasting scenes per student
Three taping rounds per scene
Pre-req: My Fundamental Skills Course or existing TV credits or by audition
One-on-one format for max flexibility
I got full rides to MFA Acting at Yale, NYU, and UCSD. I taught Acting I to undergrads in La Jolla. Coached privately for ten years. Have also taught at NYU, SUNY Binghamton, University of Minnesota, and Pace University. As an actor, I've been on Broadway, led films, and guest-starred or recurred on over 25 TV shows. My students have gotten into elite MFAs, booked series regulars. I’m passionate about helping actors build a career. It comes down to having the tools.
"Johnny is astute, rigorous, and caring in his work with students. His approach is highly learnable, and applicable to both auditioning and acting in general. 10/10 would recommend studying with him! He will make you a better auditioner and a better actor overall!"
— Laura Kai-Chen, Madame Secretary, Evil, NCIS: Los Angeles
"Johnny Wu is an excellent coach with a clear record of helping actors be their best—he helped me mine the text to find micro moments. I appreciated his clarity, insight, discipline and humor. In just two sessions, I was looking at my work differently."
— Mahira Kakkar, New Amsterdam, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods
"Johnny is an excellent coach! His approach is efficient, direct, and clear. I found working with him immensely helpful and informative. He really helped me get the best possible takes and pushed me in a way I couldn't have done on my own!"
— Lee Hubilla, Law & Order: SVU
"My futures looking a lot brighter thanks to Johnny! I wouldn’t be attending one of the top MFA programs this fall without him. Working with Johnny brought my pieces and my process to a higher level. His honesty, integrity, and passion for the craft are among the highest caliber that I’ve had the privilege to encounter. Whatever my career has in store, I’ll always have an appreciation for Johnny’s openness and willingness to teach and impart so much skill and wisdom in the short amount of time we had together. 10/10. I would recommend working with Johnny for whatever your acting goals are."
— Dan Ajak, Florida State University M.F.A. Class of 2022
"Working with Johnny Wu was one of the more pleasant experiences I’ve had. He has a confidence that makes any student trust whatever he says. Whenever he gave instructions, he found the right balance between keeping his students in the outline of the exercise, while simultaneously creating an environment they felt they could explore in. When I worked with Johnny, I felt respected as a fellow artist, and the feedback he gave to me was specific and encouraged growth. I think that any student would be lucky to have him as an instructor, and I hope I get to work with him again someday.”
— Nathan Noel, Guthrie/University of Minnesota B.F.A. Acting Program Class of 2022
"Whether it be in a classroom setting or one-on-one coaching, Johnny is extremely engaging and passionate about helping actors dig deeper into their full potential. He works with a laser-like focus, meeting you at the level of work you bring to the table and challenges you to continuously get more and more specific. Johnny values the duality of seeing the big picture and overall flow, as well as hitting and building upon micro moments within a scene. I appreciate how clearly and purposefully he communicates, and how willing he is to converse, work, and support to help make a breakthrough."
— Marie Preske, Pace University FTVC B.F.A. Class of 2020
"I met Johnny by chance but what a Godsend he was! My sessions with him were illuminating in helping me zero in on my objective and also to discover and retain the specificity of intent that great performances require. His notes helped me stay grounded in the multiple rounds of auditions I underwent despite my rattling nerves. His coaching style is what every actor needs: no bullshit (which means he can see through yours), direct, precise, and most importantly - I found his zest and genuine passion for the craft incredibly encouraging and uplifting for my spirit."
— Young Kim, Final Callbacks at Yale School of Drama M.F.A. 2019
Roughly 1000 actors audition every January for BFA and MFA programs. The top schools have an acceptance rate of 3%. Back in 2005, I worked on my four monologues every single day for six months because I wanted it more than anything. IT PAID OFF.