I’ve stood on set observing other actors wondering why they were cast. At one point, I even tried to figure out what qualities a CD or director looks for when they want to hire an actor.
The main thing I’ve noticed is that many actors feel the need to either over- or underact. Though this can result from nerves, it often seems that the overacting and underacting actually stems from a lack of understanding what true acting is, a major part of which is being able to relax into a role and embody its essence. In order to embody its essence, there is one quality all actors need to have which is t he ability to be yourself. The ability to be relatable while still being the character in which you are portraying.
Titanic director, James Cameron once said, “Casting is critical. There were 92 speaking roles in Titanic and it’s through the casting that they all seem so unique and have a past. What I wound up selecting out of all of the various possibilities of actors, were people who had something inherently interesting about them which gives you an illusion of back-story.” What’s Cameron saying here? That it’s important to bring parts of yourself to your acting. Your past, present, and future are integral components of every character you’ll ever portray. Tap into that as much as possible because if the people in power can see that, they can see you in a role that much easier.
When you look at the top actors of all time, they are and were paid top dollar to be themselves. Sure, there’s talent involved, but talent can only take you so far if you’re unable to make people feel something toward and about you. As an actor (and also a person), you need to find the best qualities about yourself, the ones that help you jump off the screen.
Whether you’re playing the damaged-yet-lovable bad boy, the villain, the girl-next-door...you have to make the audience feel strongly about you (either love or hate is fine, as long as it’s strongly felt) if you’re going to succeed at a high level, it's about energy. If you put half your energy into something, you're only going to get that back at the end of the day. By putting the energy into being the best version of yourself, a lot of success come from that.
As actors, the question you should always be asking of yourselves is what you can do to always be true to yourselves. What brings out the very best in you? In your performances? How can you continue to allow this to grow on and off camera? Figuring out the answers to these questions is an absolute game changer for any performer because this is what will keep you working for a long time. You can be any shape, size or look as an actor. It’s what comes off from inside of you. It’s how connected you are to your humanity and your craft. Not being right for this or that part has nothing to do with talent. It’s your essence that makes you so interesting and that’s what makes you stand out.
This wisdom is timeless and is something you can use to your advantage. There are qualities about you that are so lovable, so relatable, and so needed in the numerous productions taking place right now. When you walk into your next audition, be yourself and before long you will become an irreplaceable asset to every project you are fortunate to be a part of.
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