California Acting Schools

Looking for California acting schools? Browse these listings of acting schools in California, acting for film schools in CA and acting classes in San Diego.

For more acting schools in California, also check out our listings of Los Angeles acting schools and San Francisco acting schools.

If you want to be acting in California, acting school is a good place to start, so read on and see what works for you!

Pomona College

Among California acting schools, this top rated college has an impressive number of famous alumni (such as Richard Chamberlain and Kris Kristofferson) that include actors, directors, screenwriters and musicians.

Aspiring actors can take theater courses with an emphasis on performance. Courses include acting, scene study, character analysis, screen acting, musical theater, Stanislavski, Meisner, improv techniques, classical theater (Shakespeare, Moliere, etc.), realistic theater, “acting for social change”, chidren’s theater, world theater, Chicano Theatre, voice training, movement (Feldenkrais, Bodyweather, qigong), modern dance, ballet, Alexander technique, mime and mask. Beyond performance classes, acting students can also learn about make-up, theatre design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, theater history, dramatic lit, theater management and theatre crafts such as costuming, props, lighting, computer graphics, etc.

The college also offers a 5-year youth program where young actors take acting classes, learn about building sets using the scene shop, and perform at the school’s black box theater.

Performance opportunities:

The college’s theater complex has a 335-seat theater, a black box theater and 2 performance studios.

In addition to student productions, the college produces 4 mainstage shows each year. Acting students are encouraged to perform the lead role in one of these performances at least once during the course of their studies.

Career preparation:

Theater students take seminars with a renowned guest artist every year. They also study with invited professionals in specialized areas of study and attend Q&A’s with actors, directors, agents and other industry professionals.

Students have to work as crew members on 4 productions.

Degree: BA in Theatre with Performance Emphasis (you can also minor in Theater).

Financial Aid:

Need-based financial aid is available and determined on a case by case basis.

The curtain raisers scholarship helps support students who want to perform in summer theater.

The theatre department offers plenty of stage related work-study jobs for students.

What you’ll need to apply: Application and fee, transcripts, test scores, school report, 3 recommendations, an art supplement application accompanied by your acting resume, a taped audition and a portfolio of previous theater work if you have it. Coming in for an interview is also highly recommended and not optional for southern California students).

Contact Info:

The International School of Physical Theatre

Of all California acting schools, this one is unique in more than one way. Students from all over study physical theater here by exploring movement, mime and mask and creating ensemble work.

The emphasis is on being not only an interpreter, but a creator. The school is deeply grounded in nature and the community. The training is inspired by the work of masters such as Jacques Lecoq, Marcel Marceau, and Jean-Louis Barrault.

Alumni have gone on to work in Cirque du Soleil productions, created successful theater companies, become artistic directors and more…

This California acting schools offers a 3-year MFA program and a one year certificate program in Physical Theatre, in addition to summer workshops on specific topics related to physical theater.

Actors study physical acting, mime, commedia, melodrama, clown, mask, circus, vaudeville, voice, Feldenkrais, warm up techniques, improv, Alexander Technique, yoga, tai chi, dance, acrobatics, theater dynamics, composition, ensemble creation and more.

3rd year students train for a month in Bali, Indonesia, where they learn rythmic chanting, mask carving, shadow puppetry and Balinese dance and music. There is also a summer acting program in the countryside in Denmark.

Performance opportunities:

Students take part in performance labs and perform at the Carlo Theater.

The acting school produces a theater festival every year.

Career preparation:

Of all the acting schools in California and the US, this is the only one with an in-house professional theater company.

Students are assisted in finding a dell’arte internship and an intership in international professional companies.


MFA in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre.

Certificate in Physical Theatre.

Financial Aid: Available through FAFSA application for US citizens. International students should see if they are eligible for a Fulbright Scholarship for Foreign Students. This California acting school also offers one full scholarship and 2 other Dell’Arte scholarships.

What you’ll need to apply: Application and fee, transcripts, written statement, 3 recommendations, headshot and resume, interview and audition (may be taped). Applicants who don’t get in the MFA program may still be invited into the Certificate program, with the possible option to transfer straight into MFA 2nd year at the end.

Acceptance rate: 10 students enter the MFA program.


Acting Professionally

If you’re looking into acting for film schools in CA, this studio offers film, TV and commercial acting classes in San Diego for both kids and adult actors.

The training focuses on screen acting versus theater acting using Stanislavski’s acting techniques, camera improvisation techniques, relaxation and sense memory exercises.

New students learn how to effectively act for the camera while keeping their acting fresh. More advanced actors work with real scripts, delving into text analysis and character development.

Acting classes in San Diego are ongoing and 2-3 hours long. The studio also offers summer camp classes on specific topics.

Performance opportunities: The industry showcase takes place in a 300 plus seat theater.

Career preparation:

Students get information about headshots, resumes, and other aspects of the business of acting. Actors train in cold reading techniques and do practice auditions. More advanced students have the opportunity to work with filmmakers and invited industry guests.

This California acting school produces a live showcase to be seen by industry professionals from around San Diego and Los Angeles. Among California acting schools, this studio is one of the only ones to have an online showcase too, where scenes are professionally shot and edited and available for actors’ websites.

What you’ll need to apply: Fill out the application and pay for classes online. You can audit a class first if you want.


Orange County Screen Actor’s Academy

Orange County Screen Actor’s Academy offers fun, hands-on kids acting classes for boys and girls ages 7-17.

The objective of these acting classes in Orange County is to train young actors to be able to be ready for work in the film and television industry.

This OC school focuses on sound audition technique and comedy improv to prepare students for auditioning in a competitive environment, and incorporates a wide array of acting methods, including: Method, Meisner, Character building, Voiceover, Commercial Acting, Etc.

Performance Opportunities:

Currently casting for short films and web pilots.

Auditions in front of Casting Directors, agents, managers, and filmmakers happen periodically.

Career Preparation:

This school’s instructors take pride in being hands-on with young actors by applying classroom learning in reading for casting directors, agents, and managers, and acting in our own shorts and web pilots!

Staff is available for career consultation, including: Headshots, resume creation, networking, web networking, union info, etc. at no extra charge.

Financial Aid: Scholarships available in special situations at the discretion of the Artistic Director.

What Students Need to Apply:Free audit for the class. Prospective students audition at the free audit.

Acceptance Rate: 2-3 students per month.


Limelight Acting Studio

Limelight Acting Studio is a creative studio with small classes so acting teachers can concentrate on each student. Actors learn Cold reading, Scene study, Improv and Commercial Technique.

There is also a modeling department where students can learn everything from how to walk the runway to print modeling.

The studio handles children from ages 4-17 and Adults from 18 and up. Private classes are also available.

Career Preparation:

When joining the program, each student gets 2 headshots, a resume and an agent submission free of charge.

Tuition Fee:

One year acting & Modeling Program $250 down payment and $236 per month for a year.
Monthly classes are $195 for Adults
Monthly classes are $95-$185 for Kids and Teens.
Private Lessons are $65 dollars for one hour

What Students Need to Apply: Students need to be very serious about their acting and modeling career. Each Student must come in and read for the studio before joining!

Website: Limelight Acting Studio

Still looking for California acting schools? 
Read about Los Angeles acting schools and San Francisco acting schools.

There’s plenty of film acting in California, so start making a list of film schools in CA too, so you can drop off your picture and resume for student film roles that come up!

Good luck!