An Actor’s Craft: Doing the Work

Through my experience auditioning and working as an actor in New York, Los Angeles and North Carolina, I have learned four cardinal rules governing the entertainment industry:

  • Having talent does not necessarily mean you will work.  Ever.
  • Hard work may pay off.  Or maybe not.
  • Sometimes there is loyalty in the business.  Most of the time there is not.
  • There is no such thing as fair.

Being an actor involves dealing with a lot of forces which are out of your control.  What can you do?  Be realistic about yourself.  There are a lot of people out there who want to be actors, but only ONE of you.  Know who you are.  Know what your type is.  Corner the market you fit into and do not try to be something you are not.  What makes you different and unique?  It is the uniqueness that is you which will set you apart from the hundreds of other actors auditioning for the same role. 

Once you determine where you fit in the industry, engage in the work. 

It is our goal as actors to be able to insert ourselves into the given circumstances of any script, listen to our partners and respond from our truthful point of view.  The inner objects and dialogue we give to the words of a script provide our brain with pictures and words that make our character’s thinking truly human. 

We are always thinking.  The thoughts we voice are only a part of our thought process.   We often do not say what is really in our minds because that is contrary to achieving our goal.  Think about the physical actions and facial expressions you might instinctively make if you are thinking, “I am so not qualified for this job.  In fact, you would be making a mistake if you hired me.”  While, at the same time, you are actually saying, “I really think I am the best person for this job and would be an asset to your company.”

Subtext, or the character’s thoughts, is an unspoken communication between two people.  As such, it should always be phrased as “you” when addressing your thoughts to another person.  A character’s subtext is what they are thinking when not speaking, and what they are thinking that they cannot say because it will make them seem wrong, vulgar, insecure, mean, crazy, stupid, etc.  The “you” helps to make the inner monologue, subtext, interactive and produce behavior.  Behavior is especially important on film.

When you personalize your inner monologue, make sure it makes sense with your scene’s objective, substitution, personalized obstacles and inner objects.  The inner monologue should be so private and personal it creates a sense of a secret.  This adds to the audience’s experience by making them feel somehow in on the emotions and thoughts beyond the written word.

Heather Snow Clark is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio, currently working and teaching the art of acting to beginning and professional actors in North Carolina.  Ms. Clark teaches classes in Meisner and Strasberg techniques, audition technique, cold reading, acting in commercials, dialects, and more.  See her website at www.heathersnowclark.com for detailed class information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/director-david-gordon-greene-nar.jpg
Director David Gordon Green Narrates a Scene From ‘Joe’
Director David Gordon Green narrates a sequence from his new film, Joe, featuring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. In the video, he mentions his reasons why he likes to hire non-traditional actors. He likes people who have real skill-sets and not actors who have the skills on their resume. He also talked about this in […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/david-gordon-green-joe.jpg
Director David Gordon Green: “I find actors in unusual places”
I keep missing screenings of director David Gordon Greene‘s new film, Joe. I hear it’s really good so I’m looking forward to catching it at some point. Joe stars Nicholas Cage as ex-con Joe Ransom, who isn’t the greatest of role models until he meets a 15-year-old boy (Mud‘s Tye Sheridan). In this featurette, Green […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/judy-greer-i-dont-know-why-you-know-me-from.jpg
Please Don’t Say These Things To Judy Greer (video)
Judy Greer - who we love here at Daily Actor – has a new book called, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From (Confessions of a Co-Star), a series of essays about her life as an actress, friend and someone who everyone thinks they might know. Here’s a blurb about the book: “Want to […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Captain-America-SamuelNick-Fury.jpg
How Samuel L. Jackson Learns His Lines for the Marvel Movies (video)
Samuel L. Jackson stopped by Good Morning America earlier this week to talk about Captain America: The Winter Soldier – which is terrific, by the way – and he told Robin Roberts that for the first Cap film, he had trouble learning his lines. “I sat at home and I did all my studying, and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/andy-karl-margot-seibert-rocky.jpg
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert Talk ‘Rocky: The Musical’ on ‘Today’
Andy Karl and Margo Seibert, the stars of Rocky: The Musical, talked to Today‘s Matt Lauer about the new Broadway musical. Karl talks about the final fight and taking on the iconic role. This is Seibert’s Broadway debut and she’s asked about her callbacks (9 in all!) and more. Check it out!