I have been out of drama school since 2006. And I’ve learned a lot. Unfortunately, I learned a lot too late, which has cost me my time, money, and roles. These are 23 acting truths that I wish I knew from day one. You will have the best chance of success if you can let go of expectations and any sense of entitlement and approach the industry with an open mind.
These lessons are both career and acting lessons that you should learn from the beginning. This will give you a better chance of being a successful actor.
#1 It is not about creating characters.
Characters are not as important as you think.
Actors love the idea of playing characters. But, roles are not limited to high schools or drama schools. Most roles involve self-transferring to a role. Actors often focus on transforming into new characters, but in reality, 9/10 of the time, it is about bringing yourself into the role. Are you able to understand the characters in the scene? Are you clear about your intentions? Are you clear about your goals? Action is the best way to create great characters.
#2 Keep casting profiles simple
I’ve seen hundreds of casting profiles in which actors have 6-7 different headshots and showreels that are as long as the Titanic. Actors who are successful in their careers keep it simple. A couple of headshots and a solid showreel in under three minutes.
#3 Typecast isn’t a bad thing
Typecast is a term often used in industry but does not contain the important word cast. It is a good idea to find work you like and let your agent know that you are interested in working in that area. This is especially important early in your career. Your showreel, headshot and other media should reflect your status as a physical comedian. This is not about placing yourself in a particular bracket. It’s about being clear about where you want to be cast. People will listen if you communicate your message.
#4 Voice work is the most important aspect of acting
Your voice is the key to being a great actor. It is essential to have the strength and flexible vocals. This is particularly true in theatre, but it applies to all media. This is one skill that you can practice every day. So could you do it? Waiting until you get cast in a major theatre role will only make you play catch-up, and you’ll soon find yourself out of your depth.
#5 Don’t imitate other actors
People get into acting because of their childhood idols or because certain performances inspire them. It is easy to fall into the trap of copying, even more subtly. While it is great to steal ideas (and part and parcel of being an artist), you must find your unique offering. You will never be authentic if you try to imitate another actor. The person you are trying to imitate is probably already doing it very well.
#6 Perfectionism is debilitating
Don’t let perfection stop you from doing the right thing. There is no perfect audition or performance. It is fine to have high standards and push yourself to achieve more, but it can lead to not sending in work or failing classes.
#7 Get involved in projects that excite you, such as writing.
Follow the well-written word. Bryan Cranston gave me some career advice ( Breaking Bad). This simple advice has helped him build a remarkable career. You don’t have to be a snob. Bryan appeared on the children’s TV show Malcolm in the Middle before going to Breaking Bad. But Bryan excelled in Malcolm in the Middle because he connected with the author. If you’re asked to audition for a role or participate in a production, make sure you read it! You’re safe if you love the script. It might not be worth the effort if it doesn’t speak to you or excites you.