Yeah. That’s me. In a wig. Doing the funky chicken dance while cooking. lol Why? because i wrote a tumblr post that seemed sooo darn serious, I thought I would lighten the mood a bit by sharing this video from my YouTube channel first :D
During Vicious Victoria week, lots of folks asked how I “first got into acting.”
Well…once upon a time, in a land far, fa—
lol…That’s just my way of saying that, in hindsight, my recollection of my acting career/journey does seem a bit like a fairytale, but if you will indulge me, I’ll tell you how it unfolded and what I believe to be the crucial element of being a professional actor today. (I don’t say “actress” usually, btw. I think it’s a non-gender specific profession. We don’t say “Doctor-ess” or “Lawyer-ess,” but I digress.)
From the time I was old enough to understand that television and film were making an emotional impact on me, I KNEW I wanted to be part of the process of creating film and television projects. I didn’t know how or in what capacity, but I knew i HAD TO do something. I was about 11 years old.
Around that time, I saw a poster at my school (this was on Long Island in New York) of a casting notice for a town production of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.” I asked my mom if I could audition, and she let me. I booked the lead, little Gerda. I remember it vividly and it was one of the great moments of light and joy in my life. I was hooked.
After that, I did a lot of reading of the different styles/methods of acting (Meisner, Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Strasberg, etc); I took classes, workshops, and seminars; I performed in community theatre; and I worked on-air in radio and television.
Looking back, I can see that I was all over the place, exerting a lot of energy and not gaining enough substance to contribute in the way I wanted - felt compelled - to contribute.
Here’s what I now believe: Acting is the act of bringing to LIFE the person imagined by a writer.
However! This has not always been the case. Acting has morphed over thousands of years. We no longer have a Greek chorus; all the roles are not cast with men in both genders; we don’t have to emote dramatically with our eyes and bodies (as in the days of silent films); we don’t have to actually be homeless for three months to be homeless in a movie (method acting); and it isn’t enough to just convincingly speak the lines accurately while the camera is rolling. These things used to be acceptable. It’s not where the business is today. At least, that’s what I believe.
Today, for many, many reasons (on which we could write a dissertation) the audience needs something more from the actor so that it may become involved and emotionally invested in the world on the screen. That something more, I believe, is the actor’s willingness to delve into imagination and become the person on the page - living, existing, feeling, smelling, seeing, thinking, remembering, wanting, needing, hearing, and LISTENING, truly being present - actually THERE in the writer’s AU in real-time, moment to moment, unplanned just as we humans are IRL (well, most of us anyway…lol.)
When this happens, each viewer is drawn into the Alternate World in a way in which they could never do IRL. The viewer/audience (or “witness,” as I like to say) sees BOTH sides of an argument, for example, and while we often relate to one person more than the other, the ability to feel the emotion and see the point of view of the other is one of the gifts of Film and Television. When this stretching of mind and emotion happens, the witness is affected, our understanding and awareness expand, we grow — and Humanity is better for it.
It’s heavy, I know. But that’s how powerful I believe it can be. And that’s an actor’s job. There’s a vulnerability involved that can be daunting, that’s for sure! And it’s much easier to do when the writing is terrific; when the other actors want and know how to live in the AU with you; and when the crew and production staff are positive, knowledgeable, and cooperative. Such is the case with “Teen Wolf.” It was like that on “The Blind Side” set, too. (Remind me later and I’ll tell you about working briefly with Sandra Bullock, who is every bit as awesome as she seems, btw.)
The point is - and again, this is my belief, others may feel differently - that while it is lovely and enjoyable to know what a Greek chorus is and other antiquated acting and production styles from which we have evolved over the years, if one’s goal is to be a professional actor in this day and age, then learning how to become the character is absolutely required and I believe it is the best first step in making a career in acting. All the other stuff (professionalism, knowledge of the industry, making connections, business tools, representation, etc.) must come after this vital first step.
Btw, I’m not saying there’s only one way to learn how to do this and I hope there may be many instructors who can guide someone in the process. But, I don’t know who they are. I found a gal, Crystal Carson in LA, who has shown me and continues to show me, how to live in the writer’s AU as the person from the page. Because of this, I don’t look around anymore, therefore, I don’t know who else is out there.
Wow. This is probably waaaaay more information than you wanted, but since I get lots and lots of emails, tweets, tumblr Asks, etc. about all this, so I thought I’d cover it all right here. I’ll just send folks to my tumblr next time they ask about how to be an ‘actress’ ;p …lol.
Thank you again, to each of you who has ever asked me about acting. You’re the reason I wrote and posted this today. Hope it satiates your desire for more information. I wish you and all my fellow “conveyors of the human experience” much joy and prosperity in your endeavor.
Hope to work with you on a set one day soon :)
With peace and respect,