Petition created in response to cancellation of ELA Acting class

by Ross Cristantiello / Beacon Staff • April 14, 2016

Students and alumni in the college’s performing arts community have created a petition to voice their displeasure with Emerson Los Angeles’s choice to stop offering The Business of Acting class for the fall semester.

The course, taught by talent manager and entertainment publicist Brad Lemack, will not be offered to ELA students during the upcoming summer and fall semesters.  This decision resulted from declining enrollment in the course and a desire to expand the skills of Emerson’s performing arts students, according to Kevin Bright, the founding director of ELA.  

A Facebook page entitled “SAVE THE BUSINESS OF ACTING CLASS” currently has 93 members, and an online petition has been signed 66 times as of Wednesday. Amy Bullock, a senior performing arts major, spearheaded this effort and is currently enrolled in the class at Emerson Los Angeles.  

The students were told about the course cancellation about three weeks ago, Bullock said. She proceeded to post in various Facebook groups to spread awareness, which was met with widespread support. This led her to create the petition and the Facebook group dedicated to the effort.  

“This is the best class I have ever taken here at Emerson,” Bullock said in a phone interview. “I wouldn’t know the skills of how to survive professionally as an actor without this class.” 

The class is designed to teach students how to thrive as an actor outside the confines of Emerson. It aims to instruct young actors about how to navigate the business side of the industry, specifically in Los Angeles, according to the course catalog. 

“I thought the students needed not more acting training, but they needed to know about the business itself,” Lemack said in a phone interview. “I can’t teach the talent, but I can teach you how to survive and thrive in the industry.” 

Lemack has taught the class since 1998, initially designing it as “something a little different” than the regular acting coursework offered at the time. Since then, Lemack and the Business of Acting class itself have become beloved in ELA’s community, despite consistently having low class sizes. There are currently nine students enrolled, but many semesters have seen as few as three pupils, according to Lemack. 

As a result, Bright has assigned Lemack to teach a different, broader class with elements of the older one. This will be called The Business of the Business and will be offered at ELA during the upcoming fall semester. It will incorporate elements of Lemack’s previous course, but will expand its scope to cover the wider range of topics that make up the entertainment industry as a whole.  

“Everything that students come out to LA for will be covered in this class,” Bright said.  

Bullock said that the new course was too broad for performing arts students. 

“Acting students are not getting these core survival skills,” Bullock said.

While Bright has said that the Business of Acting class will be offered again, he could not give a definitive timetable.