Have you seen Jack Aiello’s 8th grade graduation speech for Thomas Middle School online yet? On June 8, a video of this political enthusiast’s school address was uploaded to YouTube and has since been viewed millions of times! Dozens of news outlets have written stories about Aiello’s clever portrayals of several presidential candidates and President Obama—and now the television outlets are calling.
How did this happen? Aiello did what he loves to do—political impersonations—then posted a video of himself in action. All young performers can post videos of themselves doing what they love to do, and there are several reasons why they should.
One basic truth is that actors need to act. In this profession, you can study forever yet never be guaranteed work. This is a tough business that can leave you on the sidelines, but to stay competitive, you have to keep active. Staying engaged is essential to maintaining your drive and ambition. If my students aren’t finding enough work out there, I often tell them to shift from “watcher” to “doer” by creating their own work. Creating your own work could mean a lot of things, but the Internet is a powerful and accessible tool that is full of possibilities. By filming yourself acting—or doing anything else that you love to do—and posting it online, you can showcase your personality and talent for the world to see. The rewards could be surprising, so get to work!
Ask yourself, “What do I love to do?” Yes, you love to act, sing, dance, and maybe do comedy, too. Feel free to self-tape and post your monologues or scenes. It is good practice and it can satisfy your need to perform regularly. However, there is more to you than performing other people’s work. The best performers are interesting people first, and casting directors pick up on that right away. A person with diverse interests who is curious and who invests his time to learn new subjects or acquire new skills comes across as vital, intriguing, and attractive. Develop your own distinct combination of interests outside of the performing arts and it will help you as a performer.
A few of my students have started sharing their passions with the public by posting YouTube videos of themselves presenting other skills. They improvise or perform a scene of their own design. Here are some examples that might also appeal to you:
- Movie critic. If you love to watch movies and have lots to say about them afterwards, you may want to become a film critic! There are hundreds of comments you could make to demonstrate your keen eye, artistic insights, and understanding of the craft.
- Cooking show. Film yourself and a friend in the kitchen, making your favorite recipes. This can show the world your personality.
- Fashion advice. Have you seen every episode of TLC’s “What Not to Wear” and long for more? Start your own show with your friends and family as makeover subjects!
- Make-up techniques. Are you able to help other kids learn to work with makeup for the first time? Have you gathered a lot of tips on how to pull off certain looks? Teach others your secrets!
You love to perform and you love to <fill in your interest here>. Do both at the same time by turning the camera on and including the audience in your project. Come up with a theme for each show, or for a whole series, and keep producing content. This is an opportunity to be creative and show your personality. Be charming, funny, or smart! Whatever level your skills are now, you can film yourself doing something you love and get better at it in the process. Let people see who you really are. Share your enthusiasm with others and they will respond. You may even win the publicity lottery, like Aiello, and become a viral sensation!
The more popular your videos become, the more industry exposure you are likely to garner. If you have a web page to promote yourself as a performer, you can drive traffic to that page from your videos. Alternately, casting directors or other show business insiders will gain greater insight into who you are go by going to your YouTube channel after looking at your web page. Driving traffic from one page to the other is one of your goals to increase your visibility and promote your talents.
Posting videos on YouTube is free and easy. You can gain exposure while having fun at the same time. Create your own work and keep developing yourself every day. This will help you become a better performer as much as any class or workshop on acting!
Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey.