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Lady Gaga: From Fear of Auditioning to Award-Winning Acting Career

January 15, 2019

At the 24th annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday night, Lady Gaga and Glenn Close tied in the best lead actress category for their performances in A Star Is Born and The Wife respectively. As the Edge of Glory singer is relatively new to acting, this prestigious award reflects the tremendous momentum she has as an actress in recent years. Just weeks ago, she received two Golden Globe nominations–one for Best Actress in a Drama, and she took home the statue for Best Original Song for A Star Is Born’s “Shallow.” And in 2016, her performances as hotel owner Elizabeth Johnson in FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel earned her a Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film award at the Golden Globes.

In A Star Is Born, Gaga moved audiences with her raw and vulnerable performance as the rising musical star Ally Maine opposite Bradley Cooper’s character, the established singer-songwriter Jack Maine. Cooper also directed the film, and Gaga says the support she received from him made her feel the set was a creative sanctuary.

“I went to places in my mind and in my heart that I did not know existed or that I could,” she said while accepting her Critics’ Choice award. Gaga and Cooper shot scenes many times and no two takes were the same. The two co-wrote and produced the bulk of the songs on the soundtrack and performed them live in the film.

Backstage, Gaga said, “Look, since I was a young girl in New York trying to make it, I had so many people tell me, ‘No.’ I’ve been dealing with that my whole life. And to tell you the truth, when they said they wanted a screen test, I was like, ‘Bring it on.’ And I think I grew a lot as a person being able to feel that way because I’m truly terrible at auditioning. Really. I’m not good. That’s why I gave up trying to be an actress. But this was extra special, and I wanted to give it everything I had.”

Lady Gaga is most famous for her singing, songwriting, wildly eccentric fashion and provocative performances. With chart-topping singles like “Just Dance” and “Born This Way,” adding acting to her creative repertoire might seem like a new interest for the pop star. Truth be told, she originally set her dreams on becoming an actress over pursuing a musical career. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, the aspiring young talent studied theater for years. She joined in with her high school’s theater program, taking the lead in a number of productions, and she attended acting school.

“I went to acting school for almost ten years growing up. I went to [The Lee] Strasberg Theatre [& Film Institute] downtown. I studied Method acting. And I just was really terrible at auditioning, and extremely awkward, and couldn’t get a job, so I decided to become a singer instead,” she told Jimmy Fallon. She acknowledges that auditioning is a separate skill than acting, and she demonstrated how she’d freeze up during auditions, admitting she felt “pure shock” in front of the camera.

Although Stefani Germanotta appeared in some small roles including extra work on the “The Telltale Moozadell” episode of The Sopranos, she came to believe she’d never be able to succeed as an actress due to her audition fears. So instead, she opted to pursue her music career as she considered herself a natural musician.“That is the thing that I believe I am the greatest at,” she said.

Cooper saw Lady Gaga perform a jazz set at a cancer research fundraiser and approached her about the film. She told Stephen Colbert, “There can be a hundred people in the room and ninety-nine don’t believe in you and just one does, and Bradley Cooper believed in me. And I would not be here without him today.”

The Mystery of Acting

March 1, 2013

Christian Bale in The Fighter

There are a million ways that actors describe the mystery of the actor’s journey. When the audience sees quality acting, it’s instantly recognized, creating a visceral response and genuine emotional impact. But how does an actor tap into this abstract ability? As complicated as it is to perform brilliantly, it’s another challenge entirely to describe the process. Here are a few examples of actors attempting to deconstruct the mechanisms of an unforgettable performance:

“I’ve always remembered something Sanford Meisner, my acting teacher, told us. When you create a character, it’s like making a chair, except instead of making someting out of wood, you make it out of yourself. That’s the actor’s craft–using yourself to create a character.” –Robert Duvall

“All an actor has is their blind faith that they are who they say they are today, in any scene.” –Meryl Streep

“You’re creating a different world and the actor’s job is to be able to convince the audience to enter into that world, whether it be actually something that you recognize from your own life or not.” –Christian Bale

“Never relax, and mean what you say.” –James Cagney

“Speak clearly and be human.” –Victorian actor, Henry Irving

“Part of being an actor is letting things come about organically as opposed to forcing them.” –David Duchovny

“Part of the reason of being an actor is you like playing other people’s lives and exploring all the psychologies in that and the emotions.” –Nicole Kidman

“Acting deals with very delicate emotions. It is not putting up a mask. Each time an actor acts he does not hide; he exposes himself.” –Rodney Dangerfield

“Being an actor means being an instrument for someone else. I want to give myself completely.” –Catherine Deneuve

“Well, I think any actor can probably identify with being a professional liar. You don’t always look at yourself that way, but I know a lot of days I do.” –John Cusack

“As an actor you become that lighting rod between the person who made the play and the audience.” –Christopher Walken

“Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn’t hiss or boo me.” –James Dean

“In the beginning was the Word. Man acts it out. He is the act, not the actor.” –Henry Miller

“Well, in order for me to be successful … In order to be a great artist–musician, actor, painter, whatever – you must be able to be private in public at all times.” –Lady Gaga

“That’s what sets apart one actor from another, and that you can’t teach. You can’t give someone that. When you’re working, putting a character together, or in a scene, that’s where things will happen that you have to have the intuition to notice them, and to register them.” –Gary Oldman

“There’s a fine line between the Method actor and the schizophrenic.” –Nicolas Cage

“Oh yes. I’m an actor, so I just learn my lines, and show up and do it. I gave it a little bit of thought.” –Anthony Hopkins

What great actor did I miss? Please share your favorites. And more importantly, how about sharing your own personal philosophy on the mysteries of this intriguing craft?