Fish Outta School

Acting is very much like playing poker. If you intend to play, if you hope to win, you need to play your hand well, and, frankly, you need to risk.

Yet, far too many talent kill a perfectly wonderful opportunities to create by second-guessing what little direction they are given. It’s an odd, but all too common, conundrum. There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to risk, even from talent who aren’t necessarily all that risk-averse. Still this reaction happens far too frequently with perfectly remarkable talent. Perfectly capable, creative talent completely shutting down at the very moment when they need to act!

So, what gives?

Assuming the copy (the script) is broken simply because you don’t understand it yet is a common ploy. If you don’t get it, neither will your audience, so either read it out loud until you do. That requires you read the script MULTIPLE times, rather than ‘just one and done’. And if you still don’t understand what you’re reading, here’s a novel idea, ASK! If there’s anything to get, I’m certain they’d be happy to inform you.

Go ahead and work through the first few cold reads in the lobby, bathroom, or greenroom, but whatever you do, play with the copy! Get it on its feet. Challenge your comfort zone! Don’t sit and wait for someone to hold your hand and lead you through their interpretation of the script, as if there were only one way to deliver this performance.

Besides, assuming the client knows what they want, and further knows how to articulate precisely what they want is a pipe dream. It’ll never happen. The truth is we typically get precious little direction. In fact, consistently over the years when surveyed whether they know what they are looking for, better than 90% of those likely to hire you as an actor claim, “I’ll know it when I see it.” Which means you better get busy and create something dynamic—and modify your approach from there as needed.

Quit worrying about whether you might “go too far”. I’d be willing to bet everything that’s not even remotely a threat. In fact, it’s far more likely you won’t go far enough!

Consider all the times you’ve landed the job. Any job, not just voiceover! Think about it. You challenged your comfort zone. In fact you blasted passed it and surprised even yourself, right? Exactly. You allowed yourself to create something exceptional. Your training and experience allowed you trust yourself enough room to trust yourself to take a leap of faith. You took a risk and allowed yourself the indulgence of playing well past that narrow margin you had previously been attempting to shoehorn yourself into.

If you hope to accomplish anything in life, let alone in this industry, you owe it to yourself to open yourself up to calculated risk. Take an 8,000-foot dive into a Dixie cup! You may just discover the water’s warm and you’re free enough to do the backstroke. But first, you must take a great leap of faith. This doesn’t come about by playing it safe.

The more you challenge your comfort zone, the more your confidence will grow. The more your confidence grows, the more you discover. The more you discover, the more valuable you become! This is how you become a consummate professional: by making agility the cornerstone of your comfort zone.

Easier said than done. This requires training and practice to focus what you’re attempting to accomplish with each take: expanding your comfort zone and trusting your creative impulses. It’s the most rewarding thing in the world!

Mastering a handful of remarkable techniques prepares you to continually challenge your comfort zone, develop greater dexterity, versatility, and agility that will set you apart from the masses by being the most valuable thing you can be: your self!

Know that you’re capable of a limitless number of exceptional deliveries. Make it your mission at the onset of every audition and every session to discover just a few of them on the spot. It’s your job.

Because if you are interested, you are interesting… not the other way around.

Funny how that works.

Copyright © 2020 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.