“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.” –Bruce Lee

That personal flaw that you’re convinced is interfering with your ability to succeed as an actor…is not necessarily a problem! The problem just may be that you’re interfering with something that makes you stand out as unique and compelling. Here are a couple of actor stories that might help you open up and see more clearly your angle into the entertainment business.

use-your-flaws-in-auditions.jpgMichael K. Williams disappointed his family when he decided to drop out of school and quit his job. But he was determined to pursue dancing, and eventually he indeed started working as a background dancer in music videos for artists such as Madonna and George Michael. But on his 25th birthday, he and his friends got involved in a drunken brawl with another group of men while partying in Queens. When Williams eventually tried to exit the fight, one guy followed him, spit a razor between his fingers, and slashed him, “from the top of my head to my neck.” After narrowly surviving the night, Williams was left with a formidable facial scar. How would this impact his career? Well, his life did change immediately: suddenly directors were not satisfied with him just dancing in the videos but started offering him roles playing thugs within the music videos. “Mike, roll these–roll these dice in this video. Have a fight in this video. I was like, ‘all right,'” Williams stated. Then, while making the movie Bullet with Mickey Rourke, Tupac Shakur came across an audition Polaroid of Williams; Tupac wanted him cast as High Top, the brother of Shakur’s role as Tank in the film. From there on out, Williams played various roles, eventually being cast as Omar Little in the HBO drama series The Wire and Albert “Chalky” White on Boardwalk Empire. Through the course of his career, Williams has come to embrace his scar–a scar that indeed has become his signature.

use-your-flaws-auditions.jpgJoel McHale recently picked up his sixth season of the NBC series The Community playing Jeff Winger, the successful defense attorney whose fraudulent academic credentials lead to him being disbarred. McHale is a talented, well-loved comedian, actor, voice actor, TV personality as well as producer who made his way into the business first through earning a history major and then completing the master’s program in acting at University of Washington–but admits to cheating throughout both high school and college. Due to having “full-on dyslexia,” McHale says he found it hard to read at the level of his peers, so he resorted to cheating regularly, and even considered it (at the time) a valuable skill to work around the system. McHale also writes, produces, and hosts the satirical weekly TV show, The Soup on which he recounts absurd, bizarre, hilarious and disturbing clips from reality TV and celebrity news. This work requires him to read a teleprompter throughout the show, which demands his full concentration. He admits to making a lot of mistakes, and tries to cover them up by making up different words from those written down and with ad-libbed humor. “It’s smoke and mirrors,” he says. “I think it really brings a sense of danger.” His razor-sharp wit and comedic timing have not only made The Soup into a pop-culture phenomenon, but have helped McHale pave his own unique path into the industry. Clearly, he found an avenue to work around his weakness and build upon his strengths. He recently hosted the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, and he is receiving praise for his role as knife-wielding Butler in Deliver Us from Evil in theaters now. His advice? “If you have a dream, just lie about it. Lie your way unto your dreams,” he says.

Now, admittedly, that’s probably not the most ethical advice you’ve ever received, but it was most likely said with Joel’s tongue planted firmly in his cheek. The key here is to eschew seeing anything in your personal style or appearance as a detriment to your career. Whatever it is you think may be holding you back may be the very thing that will help you succeed. We all have flaws, vulnerabilities, and those parts of our person that we’re not so happy about. But embracing these so-called flaws can help make sure they work to our advantage. Hey, Napoleon was short; you think that would have stopped him from being a successful actor? The guy practically conquered the known world. Surely, with your flaws, you can conquer Hollywood!

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