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It’s easy to get swept away as an actor in the film industry. For many, the promise of money or fame becomes the driving factor behind why they do what they do. And, while there’s nothing wrong with the many perks that come with the job, they can often robs us from the joy and passion we get from just telling stories.
On the back-end of a long and arduous pandemic, the World needs passionate storytellers more than ever. And if it’s anything actors and artists alike have learned from this past year, it’s how important it is to be connected to what we truly love to do and the people we do it for. For all those needing a loving nudge, here are a few ways to create performances from passion.
Remember why you love acting
We don’t “do” a character or “work” a character. We play a character. The word “play” is key here because that’s exactly what we do when we act; we pretend. It’s something so simple, yet so easy to forget as we grow older. Whether you’re starring in a theatrical play, filming a commercial, or performing sketch comedy, you’re helping to create a convincing story to your audience by tapping into your child-like sense of play. No child who joined the drama club in school or put on a show for their loved ones ever asked how much it paid, so why would you? Tapping into your love of acting will fuel your passion and bring your performances to life, no matter the role. Get interested in who you’re playing, not what the job is paying.
Avoid being the “desperate actor”
“I need this job.” These are four words to always avoid, if you can help it. As an actor, you are part of the entertainment industry. Your personal desperation to book a gig so you can make ends meet, or gain the recognition you think you deserve, isn’t entertaining to watch. Whether your audience is a casting director auditioning you for a potential role, or an everyday movie-goer paying to watch your movie, your job is to make the audience forget they’re sitting in a chair watching you for however many hours and minutes. How do you achieve that? Act from a passionate and emotionally engaged place, not a desperate one. Often, this can be a tall order for the actor whose emotional, physical, and/or fiscal needs aren’t being met; something that LA talent manager Brad Lemack describes in his book, The Business of Acting, as an actor’s “fitness.” The fitter you are, the farther you’ll go, and the less drained or desperate you’ll be when the time comes to perform.
Consider the business of acting
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Being pleasant to work with is just good business. Depending on the project you’re working on, you will spend, on average, 10-12 hours on set with the same people for days, weeks, and (if you’re lucky enough) sometimes months. If you’re going to spend all that time working on the same project with the same cast and crew (some of whom you may not even get along with), you better love what you’re doing! No one wants to spend a 12-hour day with an actor who doesn’t actually care about the project, or is invested for the wrong reasons. Granted, as an actor, you may have to take roles you aren’t 100% in love with when starting out. Though, if can find the joy even in jobs like these, you’re on the right track to becoming the professional, prepared, and pleasant-to-work-with type actor that casting directors will remember.
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