How To Break Free From Typecasting

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Important questions actors should ask themselves are:

What is my type? What are the parts that I would readily be cast for? Am I the girl next door, am I an Action hero, am I a sensual leading lady, am I a law enforcement officer, can I play a villain?

In the studio days there was a list of actors that would always play the same parts: the doctors, the inspectors, the bad guys, the lawyers, and the workers. To understand how it works and to get a little bit of history, a great documentary to watch is “Casting By.”

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Does typecasting exist today? Yes, it still does that is reality. An actor that portrays an FBI agent in a popular TV show plays a variation of another CIA agent in a movie. You will see an actor play a prostitute in another guest role only to see her play another prostitute of a different nationality in another show. There is always a perception of what you can play.

What can you do to break free from typecasting?

It is crucial that an actor knows the roles they would be cast in and excel at, and should know the parts that they would not readily get cast in, but that they know deep down they can play because today actors can break through the glass ceiling. We see it all the time. I for one am more interested in seeing casting that is off kilter than right on the nose. I like casting against type. Professional actors want to ask themselves: What part have I not played that I would be passionate about playing? And also be realistic about what those parts can be.

Find what you have not played and audition for indie films, web series, shorts, and stage plays. Take chances! Challenge yourself!

Actors can break free from being boxed in from playing a certain type and size of role. You’re not necessarily destined to play the sidekick forever. You would have never thought that Brie Larson, only having played supporting parts like the sister in “Trainwreck” would win an Oscar as a leading lady in Room. You would’ve never known that she had those dramatic chops. She showed us her range.

To be an actor by definition is to be a chameleon and be challenged to play all kinds of characters. Recently an actress sent me a picture resume and described herself as a good actress that can only play drama with no mention of comedy.

An actor wants to be able to do both comedy and drama. It’s true, some people are born to be funny (they have that comedic timing) and even if they are blessed with that gene, it doesn’t mean that they would not or could not want to play something else. Like Sarah Silverman who is well known for comedy getting great reviews for a dramatic turn in the movie “I Smile Back.”

You have materials that support the parts you know you get called in for. To not be typecast, change people’s perception of you. Start with shooting a different kind of headshot: an edgier one, a friendlier one, or a sexier one. Create a scene in your show reel that shows you playing a character you’ve never done before. Steve Carell did it with “Foxcatcher” so did Charlize Theron in “Monster.” They showed a different side of their talent and it wasn’t just prosthetics.

Pretend no one has an imagination, and that you need to educate him or her as to what all the types are you can play. The number one way to not be typecast is to be known as a really good actor that has range (ex. Bryan Cranston and Melissa Leo). If you stay stuck playing the same thing over and over again as many actors do, you also stop growing as an artist.

Stella Adler said actors can play at least 200 characters. Find them!


MicMICHELLE_DANNER.jpg.300x450_q100helle Danner is a renowned acting coach who works with A-List Actors privately as well as on set. Michelle trained with Stella Adler and Uta Hagen and was voted favorite acting coach by Backstage readers and featured coaching Andy Richter on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.  Michelle has two books coming out in 2016, The Daily Ritual and The Golden Box.  Please find more about Michelle and her acting programs and classes at michelledanner.com.

17 tips for Actors in 2017

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I thought we would bring in 2017 in appropriate fashion. In no particular order, here are 17 tips for actors to help you navigate an acting career in film and television!

  1. Be early to everything. Make being early your new habit. Be early to classes, jobs, dates and absolutely everything. People who are late are late habitually. If I see you arrive late for anything, I assume you will be late for everything.
  2. Stay positive or stay home. Negativity never created anything but more negativity.
  3. Train every week of 2017 to become a better actor. Mix it up. Be in multiple classes whenever possible. Do not just sit in the same scene study class for the next twelve months.
  4. Try it. Never taken a commercial class? Try it. Never done a workshop? Try it. Student film, print work, Movement class, stand-up? Try it. Make 2017 your year for trying new things.
  5. Try it again. Don’t write off things like student films because you had a bad experience once a long time ago. Booking a student film is a lot better than booking nothing. Did a bunch of seminars but didn’t get called in? Try it again a few years later. Hopefully, you are a better actor now than you were five years ago. Show people that.
  6. Work for free. Only under the right circumstances, of course. Student films, shorts and indie web series are all acceptable freebies. The idea that no one should ever work for free is ridiculous. Most successful people have worked for free at some point. There’s a huge difference between working for free and being exploited. Is anyone else being paid? And is the project being made for money or exposure?
  7. Only do minimal extra work. You are not getting closer to that first series regular job by being on sets as an extra. Do it a few times and then move on. You can only learn so much by doing it a hundred times. Look up the term “diminishing returns.”
  8. Shoot great headshots. Every actor should have great headshots. Any less and you are not being competitive. Meet with fifty photographers if you have to, but wait to shoot until you feel confident that you have found a great one.
  9. Read a minimum of one book related to acting each month. Read more if you like, but commit to at least one per month. It’s harder than it sounds.
  10. Submit every single day of 2017. Make a commitment right now not to miss a single day. There is at least one project on this site that you can submit for every day.
  11. Add to your special skills. Learn a few things this year that you can add to your resume. Work on accents, learn to surf, ski or ride a horse. Pick a martial art. Learn to tango. Learn yoga.
  12. Network at least once a week all year long. Plan it out right now for the next couple of months. If you commit to being seen by industry members, industry members will see you. Don’t wait to casually bump into us.
  13. Do for others. Expect nothing back. Just do. Refer people to your agent or manager. Help your actor friends on social media when they post about their projects. Share their news. Drive somebody to his or her audition. Expect nothing back and watch what happens.
  14. Post your acting news on social media on a regular basis. It isn’t enough to post things once. I have 900 FB friends. Post it once and I will probably never see it.
  15. Find things to post about on social media. Not just bookings. Go to screenings, panels and networking events and take some pictures. Post about your love of acting, not just those times when you work.
  16. Give 100% to anything you commit to all year. Hold yourself accountable. Keep a journal if need be. Make sure you follow through on plans and commitments.
  17. R-E-L-A-X. Stress is a career-killer in this town. Another great reason to take that yoga class. Whatever works for you, find ways to regularly decompress. You don’t have to leave town to do it. Just relax.

If you can follow these 17 guidelines, 2017 is going to be a great year for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Healing Power of Acting

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Sometimes the process of acting goes beyond being more than an exploration, passion, or career goal. And it, in fact, has the power to transform its participants’ lives in a healing manner.

Take Michael Shannon, for example. Shannon is known for his versatility on screen in films like Revolutionary Road which earned him an Oscar nomination, Take Shelter, 99 Homes for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, and Nocturnal Animals. In this Off Camera interview, Shannon describes his difficult childhood. His parents divorced early on, and he describes his high school years as “a disaster”–and he eventually dropped out of school.

Painting a picture of his high school social difficulties, he says, “I was in a different city with a bunch of kids I didn’t know at a very large school. So my freshman and sophomore year I couldn’t make friends to save my life.” On top of it, his father with whom he was living at the time, was going through his own hard times, which ultimately lead Michael Shannon to move. In turn, he immersed himself in community theater.

Indeed, the more he performed, the more he realized acting “might be more than just something I’m doing to kill time and ease the pain.” Instead, the theater allowed him to change how he and others perceived him. Shannon revealed:

“I guess I had a lot of inappropriate behavior, or I didn’t really fit into like normal societal situations. I struggled with those, but the great thing about the acting is that I could go on stage and act insane, where in real life if I acted that way, I’d get chastised and punished or told to shut up. But when you do that on stage, people applaud  and say, ‘Wow, you’re a genius.’ So it was a pretty easy bridge to cross.”

Sally Field is another example of an actor who found acting to be a healing force. In an emotional interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors, Field opened up about a deep depression she experienced in her late teen years. She told Hailee Steinfeld, “It took me a long time to get to anybody to really learn a craft, and that wasn’t until I was in my second television series, and unfortunately it was something called ‘The Flying Nun.’ I was suffering so badly, I was so depressed and I was 19 and I didn’t want to be playing something called the Flying Nun. I did not want to be dressed as a nun all day long.”

But fortunately she found a support that helped her emerge from the depression. For Field, that support was The Actor’s Studio. Field admitted:

“[The Actor’s Studio] really began to form who I was not only as an actor, but helped me be who I became as a person. Because it gave me tools…so that I never lose my own voice…acting tools, that I can go into myself and if I can call on those pieces of myself as an actor, then I can call on them as a human, and I couldn’t do that before.”

To hear Field’s entire comments on the topic, you can view the interview on Variety’s Actors on Actors which debuts on PBS SoCal on January 3rd.

Do you attribute acting with being a healing force in your life as well? Please share.

Commercials – A Slice Of Life

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Hundreds of years ago (well maybe it just seems that long ago) I moved to Los Angeles to be an actress and a singer. Like most people, I was told the way to become an actress and get a TV/film career was to start out in commercials. Well, in those years I did fit the qualifications for a young mom, a girl who loved pizza and someone who loved to be traveling on an airline. So I immediately went out and found a commercial agent who agreed that I had the perfect look. They even gave me a commercial copy to read – I don’t think I was very good at it but they traded my lack of knowledge for my bubbly personality.

I was a speech therapist during my early 20’s so after I taught I would go on these auditions where I would get to know all of the commercial actress’s in my category. In the beginning, it was intimidating as I recognized many of them from actual television commercials. The process was the same. I would get a call from my agent telling me to show up at a certain casting office. I would sign in and then be given the copy of the commercial. I was very nervous because all I did was read it over a few times and hope that I wouldn’t bomb in the audition! That did happen a lot but eventually I began to understand what they were looking for and started to book them. I did so well that I bought a house with the money that I had earned. It was a fun game. Run home to open the mailbox and guess how much money I made that month on a national commercial.

Looking back, the only thing I liked about commercials was the money. I didn’t have “Margie Haber” to teach me that a commercial is a small slice of life. The creation of one line, 2 lines, 2 paragraphs or 2 pages is the same for a commercial, a co-star or guest star, a series regular or a film. It is all about creating the life. All of the commercials I did would have been so much more awarding if I understood that premise. Pizza Hut, American Airlines, Formula 409 and Tang were opportunities to experience the life – to use my imagination and live it.   One commercial was Tang with Florence Henderson. In that commercial I had a child and went to visit my neighbor (Florence Henderson) and we sat on her patio drinking her Tang loving the taste of it. I didn’t know that I could actually create a life for my “character” rather than worry about my lines. I could have said,” I am this person living this life” – what was it like to have a child?  Did I watch her play sports or listen to her playing the piano? What was our ritual before I tucked her in bed? Create my relationship with my neighbor. How often did we come over on a hot summer and sit on the porch drinking Tang and sharing stories of our day – not trying to sell the drink Tang. If you want to see my commercials in the 70s and 80s they are on my “Stop acting” app that you can find on your iphone/ipad or vimeo on demand.

My advice – don’t be technical – create any life and enjoy the process!

 


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With 40 years of experience, Margie Haber is known as Hollywood’s top audition coach. What is it that Margie teaches? The answer to that question is within title of her book:  Margie teaches actorsHow to Get the Part Without Falling Apart.  Margie takes away the “three p’s”- Pain, Panic, and Performance Anxiety- from the cold-reading & audition process and gives back the “Big P” – POWER- to the actor.  She teaches actors her philosophy, “Stop Acting and Start Living the Life”, using her unique 10-step approach to breakdown the slice of life physically and emotionally, rather than intellectually.  Her revolutionary Haber Phrase Technique has helped thousands of actors use to use the page without losing the life, while supporting relationship and purpose. MargieHaber.com (310) 854-0870

Tips to Analyze Scripts

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The skill set of script analysis is a powerful, if not vital, tool for actors. This applies to small parts, starring roles, and anything in between. To understand, move, breathe, and speak for another person, actors must dig into the internal life of the character. And how much time and effort an actor invests in their character shows. Indeed, preparation can be the key to unlocking a truly moving performance.

New York acting coach, John Windsor-Cunningham tells a story of Anthony Hopkins who once answered questions before a reading, saying sometimes there are actors who read a play 20 times to prepare. Continuing, he’s quoted to say, “I don’t understand that…everyone’s welcome to work in their own way, but it wouldn’t enter my head…To read a script in advance 20 times. Because it wouldn’t enter my head to turn up at a first rehearsal of a play or a film without having read it at least a hundred and twenty times.”

While that might sound extreme, properly analyzing a script can indeed take several reads. The journey of exploring the material starts with getting acquainted with the storyline and characters, but soon moves on to interpretation. Actors can notice similarities with their own experiences, or what they’ve observed in others. Interpreting the material also requires a curious mind to ask questions like “Why?” and “How?”

Kimberly Jentzen, the author of Acting with Impact urges actors to, “Remember that history justifies behavior. So if you don’t understand why a character does what they do, the best thing to do is to read the whole script or the whole play, and you’ll really get some clues. A script is laden with clues and dynamic, interesting thoughts and ideas and metaphors that give us the meaning and the understanding and lead us to our interpretation.” Jentzen strongly believes that any time actors sense they are being general about something, then that is not good. When it comes to matters like a character’s history, intentions, or personality, she insists, “Everything must be specific.” 

Also in pursuit of interpreting a script, many performers make a point to experiment with which word to emphasize in each sentence. Robin Wright, for example, chooses a word that she loves in each sentence, and one she hates–as well as the reasons why her character feels this way. For practical purposes, once actors have decided on which word to emphasize, they can pencil mark their decision onto the page before continuing with the script. Also, many actors find it advantageous to pencil mark their script where changes in emotion occur. For example, if a portion of a particular sentence starts off tearful, an actor can mark precisely where those tears shift to outright anger. For this reason, a script can get messy with markings and notations. Pencils are always handy because they allow for changes later on.

Script interpretation comes in many shapes and forms though. Christopher Walken, for example, has described breaking down his scripts in a unique way. He describes his process saying, “I cross out all the stage directions, I cross out all the places where it says, you know, ‘He says this angrily;’ I cross out all the punctuation. And I just speak without punctuation. I mean, except the way it happens…No periods, no commas, no nothing. Really. A period comes when it comes. But it’s a good thing really. If you, next time you take a script, take all of that out and read it. Because the other actors are going to tell you what their talking about anyway. And it’s better to hear it from them.”

Regardless of your personal approach, it’s vital to come to understand your character without passing judgement on him or her. Uncovering the character’s true nature along with his or her vulnerabilities and flaws is much more important than if you personally like the person he or she is. And really getting to know your character frees you up to be spontaneous when new approaches to the material are thrown at you. After all, many people on set might be involved with the details of your character including wardrobe specialists or, of course, the project’s director. Directors likely have their own vision, and have a say about creative decisions for your character. Whether the director gives suggestions or specific directions, actors need to be ready to adapt, while maintaining a firm understanding of their character. Often times, the collaboration between a well-prepared actor and the director takes the depth of a character to the next level.

Mark Duplass Shares How He Made Films with Limited Resources

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“If you really want to be in the business of being an actor, the days of thinking only as an actor are probably over. The most frustrated actors I know are the ones that are waiting for someone to give them the gig. You must make the gig….And the tools to make stuff now are available to everybody. You could make a movie on your phone. And people do.” —Jason Alexander

Duplass Brothers Productions is an independent film and television company founded by Mark Duplass and his brother Jay. Together they write, direct, produce and act in their projects. Known for creating movies on limited budgets, their work comes to life with a strong emphasis on improvisation and collaboration. And it especially digs deeply into what people attempt to hide from others, namely their vulnerabilities, insecurities, fears as well as moments of joy associated with what’s often considered to be small events. As a team, they don’t allow skimpy resources to stop them from creating projects that they’re passionate about.

Originally inspired to be like the Coen brothers, they followed the “rules” that seemed to be laid clearly before them; that is, work hard, go to film school, and learn all the required and practical production skills. “And we got so obsessed with the propriety of everything,” Mark recalls, that they neglected to tend to the most important part of filmmaking: “the meat.”

Years passed, and although the brothers felt the conviction that they indeed had “something to offer,” they weren’t really yet achieving their creative goals. In this Off Camera interview, Mark describes how one day he spontaneously told his brother, “Forget all the **** we learned in film school–forget it all. Like Mom and Dad’s video camera, I’m going to get a tape, and I’m coming back.” By the time Mark returned, Jay had given some thought as to what subject matter might work. Jay described a time when he nearly had an identity crisis while struggling to record an outgoing greeting on his answering machine. The brothers went with the idea–just the two of them–right then, and improvised as they worked. Mark describes the process of making the seven-minute short film This Is John by saying:

“This felt like us when we were little following our instincts. All communication was nonverbal–very Neanderthal-like. And we edited it down, and it was our first movie that got into Sundance. And that has set the tone for everything we’re doing today, which is–as much as possible–to trust that weird little voice that’s inside of us…And the more I do that, the better off I am generally.”

Their subsequent work includes The Puffy Chair which also screened in Sundance and attracted the attention of major studios; the comedy-drama film Jeff, Who Lives at Home; they co-created HBO’s series Togetherness; and the duo recently finished the comedy romance about two ex-high school sweethearts who cross paths 20 years later in the film Blue Jay which will be released on Netflix this coming December.

Mark firmly believes in allowing actors to go off script in the quest of capturing an authentic emotional moment. “If you’re locked to the words on the script, as good as those scripted words are, if you didn’t have the time to rehearse them correctly or if the perceived dynamic between the actors is different from what the writer imagined, and you’re not allowed to stray from that, you’re going to have a stilted scene,” he insists.

Here is the short This Is John–the film that had such an impact on their careers. Mark and John’s work serves as both a reminder and an inspiration that it’s indeed possible to produce quality work with limited resources.

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Seven Signs You Have A Professional Acting Career

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I’ll never forget the eye-opening moment when I was asked by an agent whether or not I wanted to be an actor. I was crushed. After all, this was years in to my ‘career’ (or what I thought was my career). As difficult as it was to have that question asked, it changed my perspective. It made me realize that there is an industry standard and that – maybe – I wasn’t playing my cards right.

Now, I look at things differently. I learned to judge my work from the viewpoint of someone who would want to hire me.

Becoming a professional actor is all about a series of step-by-step accomplishments, much like in a college program. It will take hundreds or thousands of hours of studying, preparation, application, and practice to get to a professional level. The actor hobbyist and the professional are vastly different. Curious which category you fall under? In this blog post, I’m going to provide some qualities that all professionals share in order to move themselves forward and ultimately… to make money.

  1. Getting paid for your work

I would say that the first time you get booked for a paid project through an agent is a pretty good indication that you are on your way to being, or already are, a professional actor! Having said that, don’t’ skip out on your acting training just because you are booking work. Continuing your education feeds your momentum. If you’ve been working but haven’t taken a class in a while, consider taking something that is new to you or something that will strengthen a big weakness of yours.

  1. You have a professional headshot

A portrait session with a reputable photographer (recommended by your agent or manager, most likely) that produces at least one theatrical headshot and one commercial headshot is essential. A simple black border with your name at the bottom (legibly- i.e. not in cursive!) will suffice. A snap shot or Instagram photo will instantly make you less of a professional. It could be seriously damaging your getting a booking.

  1. You have an Agent and/or ‘Team’

A top requirement to become a professional working actor, right after your training, is having a quality agent. Although the majority of your work should come through them, you may also find

work yourself, and most actors are constantly looking. Try a range of agents until you meet one that really jives with you and understands your goals. Not all agents are created equal! One agent may not be enough, however and you may require a manager, publicist, lawyer, PR agent or more in order to be adequately represented. You may also choose to have different agents representing you in different areas (one for voice, one for theatrical, one for commercial, one for print, one for stunts, etc). The more helping hands you have, the greater the chance for success.

  1. You invest in yourself

Acting is an investment. Headshots, acting web sites (such as CastingFrontier.com or IMDB.com), classes, etc. all take a significant chunk of change to maintain. However, those who take their careers seriously do not skimp on ways to further their careers. Of course some things you can do on your own, such as social media updates, and maybe even writing and producing your own productions (Ben Affleck or Matt Damon often do this). Use your own voice to create what you want to see in the industry.

  1. You put acting first

This comes off as a simple one, however it is far from it. Auditions happen fast, with little notice and often with high expectations. An actor who is constantly missing auditions, requesting a change of time slots or is available with limitations such as: only on weekends, only on nights or only during the day, may not be cut out for a position in the film industry. Give yourself the best shot possible, and that means putting acting first.

  1. You’ve found your ‘sweet spot’

Many people struggle for years with good acting talent, or having a ‘look’ that is not in demand. You may find that your hair color or length is not catching the attention of professionals. For example, commercial spots love a good hair cut, shoulder length and above. If you are not getting in the door, something may be off with your look or may not be on trend. Actors do not always get the perk of looking exactly how they want, and I’ll never forget hearing Jennifer Garner mention how she just wanted to gain some weight without the scrutiny of everyone in the world. Professionals learn to find their best ‘looks’ and stick to it.

  1. You know how to fake it ’til you make it

That’s your golden ticket and your secret weapon. When you walk into the audition room, every casting director expects a professional regardless of experience level. A professional actor knows the rules of the casting room, is courteous and polite. He or she keeps their nerves in check, studies the scene before arriving and is familiar with the script. If you’re a pro, you know how to slate well and have possibly seen the director’s previous work. These little things will make big impacts on the individuals you need to impress.

Whether or not you are a professional, aspiring, or acting as a hobby – remember to keep pushing forward, keep studying and keep showing up. Work on your positivity, support your industry peers, embrace your competition… and always, always be fearless!

 


 

taylortunesTaylor Tunes (too-ness) is an actor located in Portland, Oregon. Look for her in an upcoming Netflix original film (still to be titled), starring Elijah Wood and Melanie Lynskey.

Top Actors Describe What They Believe Makes a Good Actor

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Being an exceptional actor takes a whole lot of skill level, dedication, experience, and sacrifice. Add to that, the mysterious “it” quality that great actors always seem to possess. But what do actors, from their unique perspective, say is important to cultivate what it takes to become a truly great actor? Although the required personal qualities or habits could fill countless books, here are a few examples of what actors have mentioned among their various interviews over the years.

Set a clear goal to become a great actor

Gary Oldman: “Wanting to be a good actor is not good enough. You must want to be a great actor. You just have to have that.”

Pierce Brosnan: “The word ‘star’ doesn’t mean an awful lot to me. ‘Good actor’ and having the respect of one’s peers means more.”

Tom Sizemore: “I didn’t come to Hollywood to drink or get high, and I don’t want to be considered a cool actor–I want to be a great actor.”

 

Take Risks

Lena Olin: “To be a good actor, you have to be very smart. But to be a great actor, you also have to have a streak of, ‘I’m an idiot, a complete lunatic.'”

Nicolas Cage: “To be a good actor you have to be something like a criminal, to be willing to break the rules to strive for something new.”

 

Stay Open to Life

Lane Garrison: “To be a good actor you have to feel life and observe life.”

Sarah Bernhardt: “He who is incapable of feeling strong passions, of being shaken by anger, of living in every sense of the word, will never be a good actor.”

Peter Berg: “You know to me, being a good actor, the most important quality is you’ve got to love to play, and to just be open to anything.”

 

Be on the outlook for opportunity

Denzel Washington: “Black or white good parts are hard to come by. A good actor with a good opportunity has a shot; without the opportunity it doesn’t matter how good you are.”

Bryan Cranston: “When you’re an actor in grade school, high school, college, whatever, you start to realize what you’re really good at, what you’re kinda good at, what you’re okay at, and you start to compartmentalize. But if you know yourself and what you’re capable of, it’s just a matter of opportunity.”

Kristin Stewart: “I really, specifically, love acting, and I think it’s a really cool thing to be really indulgent and follow that. I have a lot of ambitions in life, but for the next few years, I just want to be an actor. That’s a lucky opportunity, and that drives me to want to be good at that.”

 

Keep acting in perspective

Gary Busey: “There has got to be more to life than being a really, really, ridiculously good actor.”

Katherine Heigl: “If I spread myself too thin, I’m not a good actor, I’m not a good mother, and I’m just really high-strung–and everybody hates me.”

Shia LaBeouf: “If people perceive you as a good actor then they’ll wish for you to be a good actor and they’ll root for you when they watch you. But if you come out and you’re going to clubs every night, people don’t root for you anymore.”

James Dean: “Being a good actor isn’t easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I’m done.”

Daniel Radcliffe: “There’s no blueprint for where I should be. I see myself as a young, good actor who still has a lot to learn. There’s nobody at any point in their career who is the finished article.”

Anna Faris: “Blythe Danner is somebody whose career I admire. She’s a great actress and does good work, but also has a life of her own. I love my job but, at the end of the day, I want to come home and watch a movie and drink a bottle of wine with my husband.”

 

A Dose of Ego

Robert Redford: “I had just arrived in New York from California. I was nineteen years old and excited beyond belief. I was an art student and an acting student and behaved as most young actors did–meaning that there was no such thing as a good actor, ’cause you yourself hadn’t shown up yet.”

Jean Anouilh: “A good actor must never be in love with anyone but himself.”

Sibel Kekilli: “Acting for me is like a ping-pong game. That’s the secret of acting. When you have a really good actor, I always want to be as good as he is or she is.”

What personal qualities or habits do you feel are critical for actors to have in order to become great actors?

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We all need affirmation! (part 3)

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In parts one and two of ‘We All Need Affirmation!’ we discussed the power of positive affirmations and a number of exercises of changing negative thoughts to positive ones combating those lingering, counter-productive thoughts.  In this final installment, are two exercises on building self-confidence and belief in oneself.

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Exercise: I believe in myself.

This next Affirmation will help you believe that you are good enough to be great.

Once again, write this down in your Actor’s Journal.

I believe in myself.

Then take a breath and say it out loud:

I believe in myself.

Say it again, quietly to yourself.

I believe in myself.

Feel it, own it and live by it. This should become your mantra, part of your morning ritual. Before you brush your teeth, drink your coffee, or pick up your cell phone, you need to look in the mirror and say “I believe in myself” three times.

You will immediately see a difference in yourself. You will gain a stronger desire to achieve your Want and you will be more positive about your prospects. Incorporate your mantra into your daily life. Say it to yourself three times before you go to class. Say it before you go into a meeting with an agent. Say it after a rough day before you go to sleep.

I believe in myself.

This Affirmation is especially effective before auditions. It will counteract any prior self-doubt and negative thoughts and statements about failing such as “I’m going to screw up this audition.” It’s equally as valuable after auditions to block any negative thoughts from re-entering your subconscious like “I just screwed up that audition.”

Also, to complement this Affirmation, try the following visualization exercise at home or sitting in your car before any audition:

Once again, relax, take a deep breath and imagine the inside of the casting room. Picture yourself standing in the middle of the room performing your scene with focus, energy, passion and the Confidence that comes with being fully prepared. Picture a casting director, writer, producer and director all sitting across from you, smiling, interested, taking notes and circling your name on their call sheet. As you finish your audition, visualize them smiling, thanking you for your work and telling you with a wink that they’ll be in touch. See yourself walking out of the audition with your shoulders back and your head held high, proud and satisfied with your audition, confident that you did your best.

Visualizing a positive outcome will fuel you with Confidence.

Exercise: I am a confident actor.

In this final Affirmation, I’m going to help you build upon the Confidence you already have. I’m going to help you find something you’re confident about and translate that into your acting. I’m going to help you accept that you can be a confident actor.

First, let’s find out where else in your life you feel the most confident. Steer it away from acting. Think of something you know you are good at, something that you believe you can do and do well. We all feel confident about something. Do you feel most confident about your relationships, at your job, playing a sport, schoolwork, giving advice, in sex?

Where are you most confident? Write it down in your Actor’s Journal.

I am very confident when I …

Let’s say you wrote down, “I am very confident when I am driving.” That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert or a professional racecar driver. It just means that driving is something you feel sure of doing.

In other words, when you drive, you are not fearful of the road or other motorists. You feel relaxed, yet in control. When driving, you are cautious even when you’re talking to your passenger, singing to the radio, or talking on your headset. You feel free, at ease, your thoughts are flowing. You feel confident and the Confidence surges through your body.

Well, that’s how you should ultimately feel about your acting, whether it’s in classes, auditions or on the set. You should feel comfortable with the material. You should feel at ease in the room. You should feel strong about your intentions. You should feel confident. You should feel like you’re a good actor.

I want you to think about that activity, the one that makes you feel confident. Picture yourself doing it in your mind and feel the Confidence rise in you. Attach that powerful feeling to the following words. Write it down and say it out loud three times:

I am a confident person!

Carry that feeling and that positive thought into the classroom, meeting or your next audition. Experience the difference it makes.

Translate those feelings of Confidence into your acting. Say it out loud:

I am a confident actor!

As you work on your Confidence in and out of acting class, this mantra will ultimately become your personal truth.

Now you have four personal Affirmations to work with in gaining Confidence and sustaining it on a daily basis. Take these Affirmations and write them on a Post It. Hang the Post It on your computer, your bathroom mirror, your dashboard or put it in your wallet to always carry with you as a reminder.

I am good enough to be great. I believe in myself. I am a confident actor.

 


SeditaImgWhether you’re auditioning for a co-star or a series regular on a half hour comedy, sitcom guru and acting coach Scott Sedita will teach you The Sedita Method of sitcom acting, which comes with it’s own terminology, coined phrases and unique glossary.

Scott’s internationally best-selling book, “The Eight Characters of Comedy. A Guide to Sitcom Acting & Writing, 2nd Edition” has sold over 100,000 copies and has become a “bible” to Hollywood comedy writers, directors, producers, and actors and is used as a textbook in over 100 colleges and universities. Find Scott and his staff of professional actors, teachers and coaches at ScottSeditaActing.com.

Battling Cancer, Shannen Doherty Inspires Others to Have Courage

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Shannen Doherty, of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2015, and has been battling the disease with chemo, radiation, and alternative therapies to this very day. Shannen has been documenting her battle through a series of raw, heartfelt, and heart-wrenching photos and unflinchingly honest journaling posted on Instagram for the past year. Her struggle has raised awareness of the deadly disease, and garnered an enormous amount of love and support from the general public as well as her castmates. Indeed, just this week the celebrated actress shared a doleful photo of her post-chemo condition in which she lies inert on her hospital bed with the journal entry:

#fbf to a very short bit ago. Day after #chemoday isn’t always so great. Sometimes one isn’t able to dance, or eat or even to think about the next day. Sometimes it just feels like you aren’t going to make it. That passes. Sometimes the next day or 2 days later or 6 but it passes and movement is possible. Hope is possible. Possibility is possible. To my cancer family and everyone suffering…. stay courageous. Stay strong. Stay positive. #wegotthis. #fightlikeagirl.

Back in the day, Shannen was rumored to be a bit of a party girl, and the tabloids accused the young lady of being “difficult” to work with. Like any and all gossip, some of it is likely true, and much of it probably fabricated. But if Shannen did indeed go through a phase when she took her fame for granted or partied too hard, it does seem clear that she’s become a thoughtful, caring, and insightful woman. And, who knows? Maybe it was even the craft of acting itself, and dealing with an onslaught of subsequent fame, that in some ways taught Shannen humility, determination, forgiveness, and grit.

Ironically, 25 years ago when Shannen was 19 years old, her 90210 character, Brenda Walsh, found a lump in her breast. “I remember that episode because it really meant a lot to me,” Shannon now reflects. “Back then, I was a kid, and I thought I was invincible, you know. I was going to live forever.”

But all these years later, Shannen writes on her Instagram page concerning her battle with breast cancer: “I hope people take away the fact that you have to be strong and put yourself out there and have courage and be a warrior.”

With this in mind, aren’t actors, by their very nature, courageous warriors? They are used to adversity and are comfortable with taking on grueling challenges. From the time they choose their profession, actors will likely experience a barrage of “advice” from naysayers designed to upend their theatrical aspirations. However, the true actor forges on, knowing that the odds are against him or her, and with a sense of purpose plows the rocky and unforgiving soil of the actor’s trade. Actors and actresses understand the world is not fair, because they are constantly studying and portraying brutal drama and ludicrous comedy, which scorns and laughs at the folly of the human condition.

Warrior on, actors! And you too, Shannen! Wishing you the best!