Way too often as actors, we are pushed to represent an image or embody an idea that doesn’t belong to us in order to achieve some promise land. Everywhere experts in the field tell you what’s your type, who you are supposed to look like when you walk in the room, and so on. And we get lost in an attempt to manufacture the idea that has been passed on to us of “who you are supposed to be”. It happens in the audition room AND it happens when we are working, where the concern to give to the director what he or she is expecting of us, eats up our lunch blocking our creativity from moving freely, getting stuck in some ideas that leave space only to a stale, predictable, artificial rendition of the story.
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BRINGING TO THE TABLE. The main and most important thing that you have to offer is yourself.
Some of the major plays and film projects I’ve booked was thank to my accent (I’m foreign, I have one ), despite everyone of my teachers and fellow actors were telling me how it would have make it harder for me to book work. For this reason, in the beginning, I subconsciously rejected the idea of going out for foreign roles, trying to fit in an ‘all American girl’ type that I just don’t belong to. After few successful experiences I realized that people were really interested in watching me at the audition and not some altered version that I thought was more fit for the role. In fact there have been several cases in which they’ve modified the role to make it foreign, as they liked the work I was doing even though it didn’t call for a foreign accent in the beginning. This doesn’t go just for accents, which in itself it’s also something you can and should work on as an actor of course, but applies to every single trait of your personality that makes you uniquely you. You’ll always be able to morph into a character that is different than you, but the way to start, the canvas that you paint on is all of you, your quirks, your sensitivity, your peculiarities, don’t leave anything out.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN INSTRUMENT. As as a musician has its own instrument, you have your own and you’re responsible for tuning it. Your instrument is Yourself. There are thousands of acting manuals that you can read and draw phenomenal exercises from and brilliant acting teachers that can give you the best tools, but ultimately it’s all about finding out what really works for you. One really good habit that I got into after leaving school, is practicing a daily acting routine. One of the most valuable things I’ve learnt through this routine was to ‘customize’ the exercises I learnt in class. In acting, you are your own teacher and it’s really important to be finely tuned to what works for you, letting go of the attachment to ‘the proper version of the exercise’ because that’s what you’ve been taught to and listen to what your sensitivity and your nervous system responds to. This comes a long way in preparation settings, during a shoot or before an audition.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Your imagination is the most powerful thing you have as an actor, along with your instincts and they are both brilliant! Getting out of your own way is one of the most precious things you can learn and it’s constant battle against self consciousness, doubt, need of approval, judgement, social conditioning. But it’s a worthy one and profoundly important for an actor. Allow yourself to experience the freedom of following your instincts and let them guide you in the interpretation of a role rather than acting it from an intellectual understanding. It’s a letting go of the control we operate with our minds and it takes effort, but it opens up to very inspirational dimensions of this work tat we are all capable of experience just because we are human being.
THERE IS NO CHARACTER, THERE IS ONLY YOU! Even seasoned character actors that have mastered transformation skills above and beyond others in the same field talk about how the characters that they embody is always you, turned.
And that’s where the idea of a type gets tricky. Because beside your appearance and your attitude, which are mostly element on the surface, there are things that you immediately connect to and that make it effortlessly easy for you to connect to a certain type and they might have nothing to do with your appearance. My suggestion is to embrace it . The more you get familiar with those sides and walk into an audition room knowing what are the strengths and characteristics that you bring to the table, the more their are going to be visible to who is there to give you the job and you’re going to force them to go beyond your look and appearance.
The work that I enjoy the most, both doing and watching is the one that is not representational, but fully experienced and truthful is the one that comes from you a hundred percent.
That doesn’t mean you are only going to play characters that are the exactly the same as you, but it definitely means that the best way to bring a character to life is to find your own truth in it .
You have many more people in you than what you think and they are eager to live through the characters you’ll play, so go ahead and embrace your unique talent to create something only you can.