The most successful actors in the world are the fearless ones. And they develop the ability to be fearless by taking risks. When you get out of your comfort zone and try new things, your acting becomes more alive, more exciting, and more passionate. Safe acting is dull for you and your audience.
Now, I’m not talking about walking through fire, jumping off a building, or driving a race car (unless of course, you’re a stuntman or woman). Risk-taking comes in many forms and the choices you make in the audition room and on stage will demonstrate just how daring, brave, and courageous you can be.
Why? Because directors and casting directors respond to the actors who aren’t afraid to get out of their comfort zones and be willing to try new things. It’s real, it’s honest, and it’s irresistible.
When I ask my students to do their first scene in class, no hands go up to volunteer. They’re afraid of not being ready, of failing, of being judged, of not being perfect. But I tell them that it’s these precise moments when they’re scared that they should volunteer to go first. Jump in and see what happens. If mistakes are made, no big deal. Class is the perfect place to take risks, try new things, and learn to recover when you fall.
Ready to give fearless acting a try?
Get out of your comfort zone.
If you’ve primarily been performing dramatic work and want to focus on comedic skills, try doing stand-up at an open mic. It might sound scary but all the more reason to do it. I recently tried stand-up and to my surprise, found I could make people laugh. It helped me gain new confidence and learn that when a joke didn’t land, the world didn’t end.
Practice risk-taking in your daily life.
Talk to a stranger on the subway, in line for coffee, on a plane. Ask someone who you’ve been admiring out on a date. Share that thing that’s been on your mind for awhile. Pay attention to what happens afterward. Did you fall flat on your face or did you learn something new about yourself? Practicing in life is an excellent rehearsal for your next audition or performance.
Shed perfection and embrace imperfection.
Though you’re probably your own harshest critic, know that it’s the crack in the vase that’s often most interesting to the person looking at the whole picture. Don’t be afraid of letting your flaws show through. If you’re not totally off book for an audition, hold the pages. Better to have an incredible audition with them in your hand than stumble through half-memorized lines.
Maybe you took a risk that didn’t pan out or you got a bad review. That can hurt and be hard to forget, but embrace humanness and all the mistakes that come with it. It’s those mistakes that may be the game-changers.
Act like nobody’s watching.
Don’t care what someone else thinks of you and your performance. Trust that you have done the work, that you are embodying your character, that you are genuinely showing up present in the moment and getting your needs met. You don’t always know what the auditor wants. They don’t always know what they want either until they see a stellar audition. But when you can show up authentically, have fun and feel good about what you’re doing, they will too.