JanInsiderHeader_2016

The following is an excerpt from my book Scott Sedita’s Guide to Making it in Hollywood: 3 Steps to Success, 3 Steps to Failure. 

MAKING IT LARGE COVER-1

I had a student in my 10-week Acting class who was a very good actor. He had the talent, the confidence and the perseverance. I’ll call him Tom. At the end of the ninth class, I handed everyone a short monologue to work on for the final night. Throughout the course, Tom and the other actors learned specific acting tools and techniques to help them bring scenes and monologues to life. At the last class, I was excited to see everybody’s final work, especially Tom’s. He had “arced” several times over the 10 weeks, making significant strides in his acting as well as his ability to bring his own essence and personality to the material. With his strong build, intense look and deep emotion, I gave Tom a monologue that was perfect for him. I looked forward to seeing what he would bring to the role of a young soldier back from Iraq telling his story of what “really happened” over there. When Tom performed his scene in class, his natural instincts, acting training and intellectual understanding of the material were clearly showcased. He understood the text, the character’s Want and Obstacle, as well as the tone of the piece.

Unfortunately, Tom’s monologue never came to life. He brought no subtext, depth or real emotional connection to the work. It was clear that he hadn’t done enough preparation. When I asked Tom specific questions about his character, he came back with vague answers. Tom finally confessed that even though he had the piece for a week, he “hadn’t really worked on it.” Tom said that after he read the monologue, he loved it and instantly related to the character. He wrote down notes of what he wanted to do with the material and was excited about performing. He had even hoped that he could use this piece for an upcoming agent meeting.When it came time for Tom to work on the monologue over the week, something would inevitably come up (girlfriend problems, roommate problems, job problems). He found himself constantly putting it off until the next day. In fact, he waited until just two hours before class to really prepare.

SUDDEN-FEAR_MAIN1520

I said to him, “But I thought you loved the piece, that you identified with it, and were excited about performing it.” Tom replied sheepishly, “I know, I know.” Then he shrugged and said, “I guess I’m just lazy.” I said, “No, you’re not lazy. You’re fearful.” As you can imagine, Tom was caught off guard by my response. As a proud young man, he didn’t take it well when I told him he was afraid. I explained to him and the class that there really aren’t lazy actors, just fearful actors. I told them that laziness is just an excuse used to hide what’s really going on which is fear.

As artists, we have chosen a vocation where Fear runs rampant. Fear can control everything from our day-to-day activities to our destinies. Because of the inherent instability of this business, actors have no clear path, no certain future…and that can breed fear. Because of that fear, we all have the ability and the potential to sabotage our careers. I’ve seen many actors do just that. I’ve seen actors consciously put off studying and honing their craft. I’ve seen actors talk themselves out of career opportunities. I’ve seen actors make excuses for not doing what they came out to Hollywood to do. I’ve seen actors let various distractions get in their way, leading them to take wrong actions. I’ve seen actors let their beautiful, innate acting talent wither and die. I’ve seen actors quit, never fulfilling their destiny. This all comes from fear. It is fear that will stand in the way of achieving your want of becoming a successful actor.

Fear is a broad topic. There have been hundreds of books, dissertations, articles, seminars and a plethora of TED Talks tackling the complexities of fear. Through many years of working in this industry as an agent, casting director and acting coach, I can attest to how fear plays an active role in the lives and careers of actors. What is fear? Fear is the anticipation of something terrible. Fear is anxiety and a lack of courage that causes trepidation about everything we do.

Fear is the enemy of ambition. Fear paralyzes us and drives us to inaction. Even worse, fear drives us to actions that will be destructive to our lives and our careers. For you actors, fear permeates throughout both your craft and your career. Fear is a lingering feeling that all actors share in some way, shape or form. Actors fear that they’re not good enough, that pursuing a career will be too much of a struggle, that they won’t be able to accept the changes an acting career will bring to their lives. Those are just a few examples. Unfortunately, you have to experience fear in order to overcome it and achieve success. Only when you face your fears can you experience positive outcomes. You need to push yourself to take risks, to overcome obstacles, to confront those things that are holding you back and get past them. If you don’t face your fears, they will consume you and you will fail.

Think of someone skydiving for the first time. Regardless of how much that person wants to experience the thrill and how much they have prepared for this moment, there will be some Fear leading up to the actual jump. In fact, there can be so much Fear that they may even second-guess whether they actually want to jump. At that point, they have a big decision to make. If they back out, they won’t experience that thrill of jumping or that satisfying feeling of accomplishment. If they muster up their strength and courage and take the leap, they will have a life experience they can be proud of.

Now, apply it to an acting career. There will be times when you will have a meeting with an agent or an audition for the perfect role. You will inevitably experience some nerves and fear before these career opportunities. You might fear that you won’t impress the agent or that you’ll forget your lines in the audition. Once again, you will be faced with a choice. For some actors, that fear can overwhelm them and they’ll sabotage themselves. They’ll be late to the agent meeting or they won’t properly prepare for the audition. They won’t face their fear and the result will be a negative effect on their career.

The right choice is to acknowledge that you have fear and decide that you’re not going to let it get in your way. You need to make the choice to work past it, envision a positive outcome, and then…make the jump. I promise you that when you do, you will be satisfied with the result. When you face, experience and overcome your fear, only good things will happen. You have to always remember that fear is just a feeling…not a fact. As you learn to embrace and integrate your fear, it will lose its power to dictate your actions. You need to change your definition of fear to “anticipatory excitement.” If you did not feel fear in this business, then it would not be your heart’s desire. Fear is never going anywhere, so you have to decide how you relate to Fear.


To learn more about the different types of fear, and how to overcome it, check out Scott Sedita’s Guide to Making it in Hollywood: 3 Steps to Success, 3 Steps to Failure.

Whether 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.

© Ron Rinaldi Photography www.ronrinaldi.com

 

Scot_Sedita_logo

Comments

comments