These days when actors are largely restricted to their homes due to the novel coronavirus and the entertainment industry has been put on hold, it’s easy for performers to feel frustrated with the circumstances. After all, actors want to act. But being a thespian is very much a social job—classes involve groups of actors, auditions require lobbies full of talent for each role, productions hire robust cast and crews. The current social-distancing requirements have turned the industry upside-down, and it’s unclear exactly what the future will hold at this point. But there’s one thing for sure: there’s zero shortage of demand for entertainment. People will always want to watch good movies and TV shows—and commercials certainly will never be a thing of the past. So, actors, keep the faith and use this valuable time to your advantage. 

Here are four ways to strengthen your acting chops while you’re quarantined.

Turn off the news and tune into your work.

To become good at anything requires time plus effort. Watching the news will likely leave you feeling upset, maybe even zap your energy, and binging on a Netflix series is sure to eat up much of your precious time. Remember to view this quarantine time as a gift and vow to use it wisely. Consider the number of hours a violin virtuoso puts into refining his or her musical abilities each day or how long an Olympic swimmer trains in the pool. Those are standards of excellence, and certainly your goal is to be an exceptional actor. So whatever it is you need to work on in your career, really invest your time. That way, when the entertainment industry gets back rolling, you’ll be in the groove and ready to go.

Work on your special skills. 

Have you been meaning to learn to play guitar, pick up a new dialect, or brush up on some dance moves? Have you developed intermediate-level skills in martial arts and you’d like to advance? This is the perfect time to do so. Every new special skill you acquire translates to future audition opportunities—if not jobs. 

Refine your craft.

“Train! Train, train, train!” insists Wendy Alane Wright, former talent agent and manager. “The more you train, the better at acting you’re going to be.” But with classrooms being dark these days, the training has moved online. So take advantage of the various courses offered over the Internet. Wright offers several suggestions: private, one-on-one coaching with Atlanta-based Rodney Rowland Coaching via Skype whether you’re a beginner or advanced, interactive classes with Los Angeles-based Margie Haber Studios via Zoom, delve into comedy with Shari Shaw Studios, or join a coaching program with Amy Lyndon of The Actors Tool Kit to master auditioning techniques. (If you know of another great online course of actors, please feel free to share it in the comments section below.)

Improve your “Package.”

All of the tools you use to market yourself, including your headshots, acting clips, and resume, make up your package. According to Wright, actors often neglect to pull together a fantastic package. She insists, “The package is usually where most actors fail because they don’t understand how to take headshots. All they take are pretty pictures. And they don’t represent your type. And you have to know your type. And they don’t have great acting clips because they don’t know what goes in an acting clip to make it great.” This business end of acting is Wright’s specialty. In turn, she offers an online course called The Hollywood Winners Circle

What ways have you been sharpening your skills as an actor during this unprecedented time off? Please share!