I’m one hundred percent convinced that most actors believe there is some special magic formula that can help them stand out in an audition and book the job. But what you may be surprised to hear is that that “formula” isn’t so far from beyond your reach and understanding. In effect it’s actually quite simple- be yourself!
There is a lot of work that goes into being an actor but it takes very little to stand out. The best thing about seeing the same scene done over and over again all day long, is that every person who walks through the door has something unique to bring, something unique in themselves. The way you walk into a room, hold your body, speak, think, feel is one hundred percent unique to you. That’s what makes casting so exciting; seeing actors who are brave enough to let down their guard, turn off their inner critic and simply reveal themselves and connect with the piece.
Now I bet you’re thinking to yourself- if it’s that simple, why is it so hard? Often actors work themselves up before coming into an audition. They worry that they haven’t chosen the right outfit or that they’ll forget their lines, who else is auditioning for the job or how much their life will change if they book this gig and what they could do with the extra income. They may hear another audition going on while in the waiting room and instead of doing what they had originally prepared, they try and do something like what the last person just did and not risk making a fool of themselves. Wow- that sounds awfully stressful and not very creative at all!
When I was studying at The Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City, the three key principles to doing great work were: relaxation, concentration and inspiration. If you lacked relaxation or concentration the ever-elusive inspiration would never arrive. And to be honest, these principles also apply to being yourself. If you are relaxed and confident in your own skin and professional and centered, you’ll do a great job. And finally if you don’t happen book the job this time, you’ll have made a positive impression and definitely be on the top of our list to call back in for the next casting.
Alan Cummings once said:
“ Remember who you are, because that is the most attractive thing about you. Try to allow as much of yourself as possible into what you do. That doesn’t mean you play the same part or person all the time; I mean allow your spirit to come through. I used to think acting was all about putting lots of layers on top of yourself; but the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that the reason we’ve all become actors is because we have recognized that people are attracted to us by what we do on stage or on film. And it’s not about the lines you say or the costumes you wear. It’s about you- something inside of you- so never forget who you are.”
- Alan Cummings: exert from “At Left Brain Turn Right” by Anthony Meindl