This week on Casting Frontier’s new industry-insider series The Curve, Burgandi and Govind interview Bernard Hiller, an internationally renowned acting coach, author, actor, and director. Hiller has a unique way of viewing the actor’s journey; in fact, while much of what he advises falls squarely on the life of performers, it’s likewise useful to people of other professions. For actors, Hiller’s techniques are based on a combination of Lee Strasberg’s “The Method,” Stella Adler, and over three decades of experience as a performer, writer, and life coach. His motivational speaking has garnered quite a following. Among the celebrity actors who praise Hiller’s work are Samuel L. Jackson, Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, and David Oyelowo.

Hiller believes that, right off the bat, many aspiring talents arrive in Hollywood with an unhelpful mindset. That is, they come with ideas about success that may apply elsewhere—but not in the unique land of Hollywood. He explains:

“I think the most important thing is you have to realize that Hollywood is like a game. And if you don’t know the rules, you fail. Think of any sport. The most important thing about any sport is knowing the rules … Hollywood is different. It’s different from any other city. And it’s [an actor’s] job to learn how to do that.”

In addition, Hiller is adamant that actors must focus on being true to themselves. He says, “I think the authenticity is the very most important thing. And you will know if you’re authentic if you’re happy and powerful. So if you’re not happy and powerful, you’re not authentic.”

If at this very moment, you’re not feeling happy or powerful, Hiller has insights and techniques to help you get there. For example, he insists performers sometimes need to be willing to be unpopular to follow their dream. By following their heart and taking risks, actors are likely to stand out and that takes courage. When difficult things happen to you, instead of asking, “Why me?” he suggests performers go forth boldly into the world saying, “Try me!” I teach my actors a way to deal with their blocks and fears.

Hiller authored the book Stop Acting, Start Living: A revolutionary guide to achieving success in show business and life. It combines acting tips with advice on how to be a successful person. He coached Cameron Diaz for a role in The Mask—the role that ended up launching her career. Other talents Hiller has worked with include Jeff Goldblum, LL Cool J, Lindsay Lohan, Billy Crystal, Chace Crawford, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Emilio Rivera. The book is for anyone with a dream and who wishes to reach his or her full potential.

To assist people in finding their authenticity, Hiller digs deep into personal past experiences. After all, he believes children are often encouraged to minimize their innate personalities in order to feel loved and accepted. In turn, they learn to play the part of a rule-following, get-in-line person. “The day you stop acting is the day we’ll see the real you. And most people are acting all the time. They don’t have the courage to be themselves because themselves have not been that appreciated.”

Referring to unwelcome past experiences that seem to linger in your mind and ultimately stop you from moving forward in life, Hiller asks, “What is the meaning you are giving to your past stories?” He challenges people to come up with a new meaning to those personal narratives, so they can change their lives. The goal is to reconnect with what is truly in your heart—the heart being the resource for trust and faith. If you can do that, your thoughts, words, and actions will all match. And it’s at that point, he insists, you start getting what you want.

Hiller assembled a list that he calls The 10 Commandments of Success. One commandment is: “Don’t let your past define you.” Another is to “redefine your story.” You can hear more of his commandments here.

To learn more about Hiller, check out his website BernardHiller.com, his Instagram account @BernieHiller, follow him on Twitter @BernieHiller, and read his book Stop Acting, Start Living.

And be sure to subscribe to Casting Frontier’s weekly YouTube series The Curve for more tips, tools, and interviews with industry professionals.

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