Good actors make acting look effortless. That’s why everyone wants to be an actor. But the truth is, we all know it’s difficult. Yes, you need to train, hone your skills and craft, network, and have what the casting directors need. But being a good actor takes much more than that. Begin following these simple tips and you just might find yourself working more.
Say please and thank you.
It’s what your parents taught you. Saying please is just good manners and makes the other person feel comfortable. People want to be appreciated, plain and simple. And practicing gratitude will make you happy. Say thank you to your agent, manager, casting director, director, assistant director, fellow actors, craft services, the stage manager...anyone and everyone. You never know where your next job is coming from.
Tell the truth.
Telling the truth will bring you peace of mind and allow you to have integrity. Everyone wants to work with someone with integrity. In an industry where people lie to get what they want, telling the truth will earn respect. Be truthful with your words, in your picture, and on your résumé. It must all represent who you are really are, not who you want to be or think someone else wants you to be.
As an actor working on a character, we uncover the lies to get to the truth. We must get to our own truth as well. Watching a truthful actor is an extraordinary experience. The audience can spot a liar—they’re not stupid.
Sure, we all practice listening. Do you ever see an actor scrunch up his face to show he is really listening? As my friend and colleague Larry Silverberg says, “listen with the ear of your heart.” That is what real listening means. It’s hard and takes practice, but when you achieve it, you can be fully present with another actor and with anyone you’re interacting with. It’s a great gift to be heard and one that may land you another job.
Go on more auditions.
I encourage all my students to go on as many auditions as possible. The more you audition, the more comfortable you’ll be with the process. You’ll also hone your skills at interpreting material and putting your unique spin on characters. Acting can often be a numbers game. The more auditions you attend, the better your chances are at landing a part.
While you’re waiting, observe others. What do the other actors do that impresses you? What about the casting director and other staff members? Can you learn anything about them by their mannerisms and communication as they watch auditions? This isn’t an opportunity to judge others so you can feel better about yourself. Instead, it’s an opportunity to shift your focus from your own performance and learn from other actors. Everyone contributes something special to an audition, even if it didn’t go well. Watch and learn.
Have quiet confidence.
I was recently on set with a few of my students shooting a film. I marveled at how the director connected with one young actor in particular. She possessed a quiet confidence the other young actors lacked. She was prepared for the challenging scene, but each time the camera stopped rolling and things shifted on set, she remained quiet, professional, and always with a confidence that said, “I’ve got this and am ready for anything.” She listened and offered an opinion or point of view when asked. Actors that possess a quiet confidence in the audition room are apt to get a director, producer, or casting director’s full attention.