So you know that you want to be an actor. But where do you start? What are the most important things to know? How do you learn to find your voice and tell stories? Every new actor has a million questions. Here are some tips to help you find your way in this crazy industry.
Have a desire to communicate and tell stories
As Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book, “Big Magic,” learn to live your life curiously. But what does this mean? As an actor you have to be willing to tell stories and change what you view as success. It’s imperative that you want to learn about human nature in order to become an actor. Experimenting and being curious will bring a sense of joy to your work and to you. I find that confidence in your acting comes with a willingness to look inside of yourself and want to grow and learn more about human nature. I find that people who are curious about that find success and an enjoyment in the craft. Dare to look inside of yourself and see where you can grow. It’s not about getting it right, this is an old idea that you must get out of your head. Take up hobbies, fill your mind with art and music. Find time to travel, read a book, anything. The characters that you are playing are human beings who have multiple layers to them. Don’t forget it’s what you bring to the part that makes you interesting. So get INTERESTED.
What do I do with my body?
You may be surprised at how many actors ask this question. My question back is often something like this: when is the last time, outside of acting, that you were in a situation and worried about what your body is doing? Personally I can’t think of one. What I try to get the actor to understand is the body-mind connection and how they work together to bring a character to life. So how do we develop this connection? How do we stop worrying about what we are doing with our body’s? In your own life circumstances, your wants, your likes, your dislikes are never in question, so your body follows. What about the character you are playing? Therein lies the work of an actor. Get clear and become vulnerable to those things in the character you play and the body will follow.
Do your research and study
In order to convey your character to the best of your ability, you truly need to know not only your character but the world of the entire script. Talk to the director to gain insight into the script and the other characters. Learning about the world that your character is in will truly help you gain insight into who they are. You must fully understand exactly what type of person your character is and what they believe in as a person. It’s about learning the differences between their behavior and your own- what does this mean about the character, what do they want and can you relate? You must understand your character’s likes, dislikes, wants and desires. What drives them? Why do they get out of bed in the morning? Learn to justify their behavior by putting yourself in their circumstances. In order to do so it’s important to do research about the character and the time they come from. Read books, look on the internet, learn about the politics and religion of that time. Find out every little bit of information that you can in order to become them.
Find ways to act
The best way for you to grow as an actor is by acting. Acting is doing- TO ACT. You can’t just want to be an actor. Failure is the gateway to success, so failing to act will bring you success… in a different field. You can’t just want to be an actor without finding a way to do it. In today’s point and shoot world there is no excuse not to be acting. Find ways to do it! How can you be an actor and not act?
Always be prepared
Don’t make excuses when it comes to preparing for an audition, class, or life. Be curious about your own process. Great actors do the work. More importantly, though, they know what that means for them. Every actor, like every person, is different and will have to learn what doing the work means for them. There isn’t one right method, rather, it’s about discovering what works for you. Not everyone prepares in the same way and you can learn the best way for you by taking an acting class and acting.
Enjoy what you do
Acting involves hard work and perseverance and you may find that acting isn’t for you. You must care for acting but if you’re going to pursue the craft then I think you should follow Judi Dench’s advice, “I think you should take your job seriously but not yourself. That is the best combination.” So be curious and learn how to play; how to fail; how to experiment. That is where you will find the joy, and success, in acting.