I can remember when I first began my acting career about 13 years ago, the top priorities on my list were a headshot, resume, and a monologue. The first two were relatively easy to attain, the last one, the monologue, turned out to be a greater challenge than I could have ever expected. I searched hundreds of monologues in an attempt to find the right one for me.
Whenever I figured I found one that worked the best for me, the performance aspect didn’t go so well. Needless to say, I was frustrated to a very high degree. All I could think to myself was, “It shouldn’t be this hard. Why doesn’t this stuff resonate with me as an actor? Maybe I’m just not cut out for this.
Once I released all of the proverbial obstacles in my path, I discovered a treasure that I was able to use then, and as recently as two weeks ago for an audition. I came up with the idea to create my own monologue.
Now, I’m not saying you have to write off all monologues, but in order for it to be effective, it has to resonate on a soulful level. The whole point of a monologue is to put on display the very best of your acting instrument. To aid you in this process, I’m going to give you three powerful reasons why you should create your own monologue. Let’s dive in!
- No One Knows Your Truth As An Actor Better Than You.I can remember looking through Shakespeare and other timeless literary works, and although all of it was truly brilliant, it just didn’t click with me. The problem was that I couldn’t see myself as the character reciting the words. I can be completely honest with you and say that this was the worst acting of my life. But, it’s often these frustrations that lead us to our greatest creative discoveries.
As I was sitting there on the floor with all of these monologues, seemingly written in another language, a thought popped up in my head.”Create your own monologue, from your own truth.” I wasn’t as confident at the time, so I doubted at first if I could really do this. But something felt truly authentic about this hunch. So I followed it by asking what is my truth as an actor? I came to the conclusion that up until that point, my life was about resiliency and strength. I immediately grabbed a pen and paper and began to write.
- The Emotion Behind It Feels Real. I once had a director tell me, “Shaun what feels real to you? Whatever it is, use that!” This was likely the best advice I could have ever received as an actor. Every time before I go into a scene or an audition, I ask myself what feels real to me? I began to take that same approach when I started to write my own monologues.
I wanted to convey convincing emotion within my performance of the monologue so I began to look through my experiences and came up with different scenarios that have occurred in my life. What I began to understand is that acting is just life recreating itself. What could I use in my own life as a gift to my art of acting? The result was so compelling that I began to share with other performers what I was doing. It just made so much sense to me to move from a place that felt familiar yet authentic to my own core being. My issue was solved. I could finally be confident, powerful, and dynamic performing a monologue.
- The Focus Goes From Memorizing Words To Maximizing Creative Expression.I mention in my book, The Vibrational Actor: A Heart-Centered Approach To Acting, how to much focus put into the memorization of lines can use up valuable energy that can be better directed towards creative expression. Here’s a significant insight that every actor should be aware of: It’s not always the words you say that an audience remembers, but how you made them feel.
As a professional, you do your best to have them down but you understand your emotion, creative expression, and non-verbal cues are what make the difference in any performance, especially a monologue. In creating your own monologue, you get the upper hand in memorization because the words actually came from your own consciousness. Subconsciously, you already know them entirely which means less time, focus, and energy spent on trying to make the lines second nature, and more time used to be as free and authentic as a performer as you possibly can.
Although each three of these concepts are important aspects in creating your own monologue, maximum creative expression is the most significant. There have been many times when I have completely gone blank on my lines but I was able to recover because my entire acting instrument (mind, body, spirit) was dialed into my performance, not just my words. It’s a game-changer that enhances the opportunity for you to book a role, get an agent or manager, or simply be the best actor you can be.
In conclusion, if we had to ask ourselves, why should we create our own monologues? Well, the answer is easy. When we bring ourselves entirely to our work, it enables us to embody acting in it’s fullest sense. It empowers us to know that, with the right material, the right emotion, and the proper expression, anyone can be an amazing actor! There’s a monologue in you right now waiting to be birthed. The time is now.
Shaun Grant is a dynamic creative artist who is divinely passionate about acting, personal performance, and transformation. He is the creator of the books, The Vibrational Actor, Become A Powerhouse In Auditioning: An Actor’s Guide To Top Level Auditioning, and a YouTube series called “The Audition Chronicles.” Shaun has been acting, writing, and coaching for the past 13 years. He teaches the concept of vibrational acting and vibrational consciousness to performers around the world and shares his insights of the industry on his podcast, The Actor’s Area.