I started writing this blog because a) I wanted to shout about all the great things going on in Leeds so that other people could find out about them and b) because I really enjoy writing. This blog is a labour of love, but I do often get some fun invites through it and get to try out new and often unusual things. I’ve been invited to bars and restaurants (no big surprise there), but also to paint some pottery, listen to a stone being played, and swing through the trees. Recently, I was invited to join an acting class at the Yorkshire Academy of Film and Television Acting (YAFTA) on Kirkstall Road.

I did my fair share of am dram as a child/teenager. I was an Italian dwarf in The Hobbit (why Italian? I don’t know. And yes, I am 5′ 10″) and also Sweet Sue, the bossy band leader (that wasn’t a stretch…) in Some Like It Hot. I’ve not acted on stage since I was 18 however, and it’s not something I’ve given much thought to, so I was interested to see what this acting session was about.

Unfortunately I’m not free for the class, but I thought I’d share the details in case anyone else fancies giving lessons a go. It might be a good one for anyone who’s decided they want to try something different as their New Year’s resolution.

I’d just assumed that you only did acting classes if you wanted to be an actor, but Charlotte Armitage, Managing Director of YAFTA, has listed some reasons as to why attending acting classes can help improve your wellbeing and/or career. (Please excuse the lazy copy and pasting, but why reinvent the wheel?)


As we start the New Year and many of us are look forward to setting ourselves a new challenge to improve our mental health and wellbeing, as an alternative option to the traditional diets, new job or gym membership why not try….an acting class!

With regular classes running in nearly every town and city, you could learn more than just lines at these weekly power hour sessions.

1) Develop your confidence
Performing in front of a group of strangers takes confidence. Although this can appear daunting for some, the positive environment created in each class enables even the shyest of people to come out of their shell. From young people to established career professionals, the classes have helped people become more confident in every way including conversing with strangers, public speaking or in new social situations.

“I feel a lot more comfortable and confident when starting a new job or in a new social environment.” Morven, 25

2) A cathartic emotional outlet
Each class is different, with different characters and scenarios being worked on each week. Channelling feelings of anger, frustration, jealousy, love or hate, lets you tap into emotions you might be suppressing in everyday life, in a safe and controlled environment. This can be really cathartic for some and allows a range of emotions to be expressed in a positive and healthy way.

“It helps me to express emotion in a healthy way by allowing me to release negative energy through performing.” Elliott, 27

3) Improve your articulation
When you’re given a character and scene to perform in an acting class, the audience need to be able to hear what you are saying clearly. It doesn’t matter what accent you have but it is important that people can understand what you are saying, this encourages them to stay engaged with what you are communicating. Speaking clearly is a useful skill that can be transferred to the work place and even when communicating with others socially.

“I am able to notice if I am tensing up when I’m nervous and can try to relax with techniques I’ve learnt from my course using my voice and breath control.” Charlotte, 26

4) Show the value of team work
Although you attend classes as an individual, you will quickly get to know the people within your class. Working in different groups or couples each week as you navigate a script or scene really fosters a sense of companionship and highlights the importance of others. You quickly become champions of your class mates and seeing them grow as individuals
alongside yourself. You develop the ability to function in a team environment and to understand the importance of listening to others.

“Meeting other people whilst attending classes has also been a highlight.” Chelsea, 12

5) Enhance your emotional intelligence
When you attend a class you will be acting out new scenarios with different people each week. Working on the emotions for your characters involves understanding your own emotions in depth as well as recognising the emotions of others. Considering what makes a character tick, how they respond and portray themselves enables you to develop emotional intelligence that many employers look for in those in managerial roles and is a skill that can help in many aspects of life.

“It has helped me empathise with others and understanding how other people perceive things.” Savannah, 13

YAFTA offer acting classes from beginner to advanced, for young people and adults throughout Yorkshire. For further details head to www.yafta.co.uk

Alongside being the MD at YAFTA and YAFTA Talent Agency, Charlotte is currently studying for a doctorate in Counselling Psychology and is also on the board of two NHS mental health charities.