6 Red Flags When Auditing Acting Classes: Part 2

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Given how much hype pervades through the entertainment industry, I cannot stress the importance of auditing a prospective acting class enough. In both New York and L.A., I’ve seen teachers with questionable practices (at best) build very large cult followings. Sometimes this occurs because the teacher lucked out and happened to coach some actors who became major celebrities. Other times, it’s because the teacher’s methods are just so odd that actors figure it must be the path to success. Acting classes are a business and actors are the customers. You have a right to insist upon certain standards of excellence and to reject particular red flags.

#1 The teacher can’t guarantee a breakthrough every class.

As a paying client and a devoted artist, you are entitled to expect a breakthrough every class. Some readers might say I’m being unreasonable with this standard, but those are only actors who have been conditioned to expect mediocre results from their acting coaches. If it’s possible to have an undeniable acting breakthrough and transformation every single class, why not demand it of your acting studio/teacher? There’s no reason why actors should leave a class not having experienced a breakthrough they can own—where the work feels cathartic, fun, and alive and truly great. Only lazy or limited acting teachers would balk at delivering such results.

#2 The teacher is viewed as a fragile prodigy with all the answers.

Some acting teachers fancy themselves to be great directors and visionaries. They believe that their interpretation of a scene is the most inspired choice. Many times the coaches for child actors will treat them like little monkeys, giving them the exact blocking and delivery for a scene. Certain famed acting teachers are no better, dictating the exact performance of a scene to their adult actors, or pushing for a certain choice—shaping a performance rather than letting the actor shape it. While this might sound harmless, it robs you of your most authentic and inspired decisions and discoveries—the ones that come from inside.

Your best choices will never be found in the text, they are born and distilled from it. Some acting teachers give you what he/she thinks are directorial notes or suggestions for how you should play your role. The best teachers and coaches will ask the right questions to allow you to discover your best, bravest and winning choices for on-set or audition success.

In a word, no great acting coach will prevent you from having the autonomy and authority to sculpt a role.

#3 The class culture is too reliant on video playback.

I love using cameras and video footage of actors for feedback when needed. It can be a very valuable tool to show certain mannerisms, flickers of eye movement and subtle differences between takes—in a way that few other things can. However, overuse can turn this tool into a crutch. It can also be a colossal waste of time in a class as it represents time not spent on the actual work. As I mentioned in my recent article, great actors know the work was great because they feel it, not because they watch playback in class. For certain actors, watching playback can be toxic. Video playback should validate when an adjustment or approach to a scene has worked, but the first say should always come from the actor. The actor should constantly be checking in with their internal GPS to determine how something feels.

#4 Context is never mentioned.

Any and every piece you work on in class should have a specific contextual approach. There are over 20 different ways of auditioning: pre-read, cold read, callback, producers session, chemistry read, video audition, etc. You should also be able to work on a piece as a scene study for an upcoming booked role. To practice how you play. Classes that are strictly scene study, with no context for how it applies outside the bubble of the acting class, should be regarded with caution. In such classes, the end goal is to please a teacher. Acting classes should be an extension of what private coaching work is for top-level elite actors. They work and prepare pieces for the real world of high-level film and TV or auditions.

#5 The environment is all kinds of toxic.

The best learning environments are ones in which positivity and respect are the foundation. Given the lax boundaries that can pervade show business, it’s important that you be able to suss out any aspect of the class dynamic that is off, inappropriate or downright abusive. If the teacher is flirtatious with students, treats the male and female students differently, or uses the captive audience of the students to overshare about their own life (a la therapy session), you’ve got the seeds of toxicity present. Similarly, sometimes the “fragile prodigy” acting teacher uses the legacy of their “brilliance” to engage in an abuse of power. A teacher should be able to clearly tell an actor what was and wasn’t working without breaking down their confidence or abusing them. The teacher must then be able to help that actor find an immediate fix for what wasn’t working before that actor sits down again. Abuse-based classes abound here in Los Angeles and also in New York. They are taught by bullies who get off on directing their self-loathing outwards.  

#6 You’re forced into a partnership.

Many acting classes are a colossal waste of time where actors are burning up their availability outside of class meeting up with scene partners to ‘rehearse’ scenes. Many acting schools do this in the name of dedication and to assert a sign of devotion to their craft.

The best classes are those in which you are not forced to work with the scene partner. Scene work allows acting studios to pack classes like sardines. It’s lucrative for the studio and often frustrating for the actor. Scene work puts you at the mercy of a scene partner who might not have the same availability, work ethic, or skill level (yes, even if you are in the same class). Also when you perform your scene, sometimes the coach is focused on correcting or finetuning your partner, leaving you to feel neglected of feedback.

Closing

While perhaps no class nor teacher can ever be perfect, paying attention to these red flags can protect you from getting sucked into a studio that is unhealthy, unproductive or just eyeing your wallet. You know you are in good hands if the work feels “great” after receiving time and attention. This will guarantee you have a very clear and fun way of guaranteeing a win both on set and in the audition room.

Why You Must Break The Rules To Win

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The achievement of success in the entertainment industry continues to have a mysterious quality to it. Some actors find success through years of hard work, slow and steady progress, and then they land one part (the fabled “big break”) that kicks all the doors open for them. Other actors land that big break much faster, leaving their cohorts behind in amazement. Others are shepherded into the industry by an already successful friend or relative, allowing them to jump past the hurdles of auditions for costars and commercials. And still, others begin as children, building a career so that by the time they reach adulthood, they can contend for the top parts and command salaries to match. Some have more inexplicable paths to success, such as a successful music or dance career, or by being a viral video creator, etc.

Given there are so many pathways to success, people in the industry try to create “rules” or guidelines to how one forges a lasting career. This is an attempt to find patterns in what can sometimes resemble chaos. Sure, actors still need to show up prepared and polite. However, the shifts the entertainment field has taken demonstrate that actors need to unthink many of the things they have been told. A lot of this is fear-based advice that deserves to be thrown away.  

Hence, all the ‘rules’ that actors have been brow-beaten with—you need an agent to pitch for you on your behalf, pleasing casting directors, or the best acting coaches are a little mean—are often backwards and just plain wrong. Below are the main reasons it is in your best interest to not follow the many rules dictated to actors.  

1.  There are no rules when you’re great.

It’s not enough to be “good,” you must be “great” to compete at the Olympics level of this industry. Remember, casting and production are looking for great people to hire. If you are truly great and are at the top of your game, then you should have the confidence to pick up the phone on your own behalf. The ability to use the phone properly separates the doers from the dreamers in this industry. 

Likewise, you should have the bravery to make the opposite choice of “gleeful confidence” in the audition room when the character description and stage directions decree “character X must be anxious and awkward” at the start of the scene. Great people can take those kinds of risks because their talent supports them. Many actors make the mistake of thinking that character breakdown and stage directions are rigid acting directions that must be obeyed. Those ‘directions’ on the page and character description (often written by casting or “Breakdown Services”) are simply notes to help you better understand the world and style of the piece. They may also be part of a writer’s pitch to producers to help paint a visual picture when selling a script.

2.  Everybody is scared.

Not just actors: producers, writers, directors, casting directors are all afraid that they may not keep their jobs or work again. This is why actors get snapped at and why the session runners of auditions often look so pained. Breaking the rules with confidence can give you the air of an elite surgeon that is able to saw through the skull, separate the halves of the cranial cavity, remove the tumor—and save a life. Essentially, your self-possessed presence can take the work off someone else’s plate by being the solution to a problem. 

3.  It doesn’t get easier, you just get braver.

Success in this industry goes to the brave. The bravery to pick up a phone and build a game-changing relationship with a major producer, writer or director. These acts of bravery might never feel enjoyable to you. But if you have the discipline to do them consistently over time, they will lose their intimidating quality. Instead, picking up the phone to pitch yourself for a role will feel as daunting as doing a load of laundry.

You will not catch fire by picking up the phone. Devoting your life to this work has required a certain level of bravery from you. Support that bravery with more bravery and make choices that stand out, ignoring the urge to fit in, please, and obey. 

4. A variety of people cast actors.

Obviously, casting directors do this to an extent by culling the herd, but producers, writers, and showrunners make and approve all final casting decisions. Too many actors have been taught that CDs jingle the keys to the kingdom when that is far from the truth. A change that has occurred in the last couple of years is that an incredible amount of major feature film and TV roles have been cast miles before they ever arrived at a casting office. There’s a right way and a wrong way to build game-changing relationships with major production teams to compete for these premium roles long before they ever go to casting. In other words, by the time it goes to casting, it’s too late to meaningfully compete for a role if you don’t have pre-existing relationships with the production team beforehand. A strong post-audition follow-up game is also critical.

The onslaught of unsolicited “advice” from other actors and industry professionals is not going anywhere. It is your responsibility to check each guideline against your gut. Determine if it is fear-based, limiting, antiquated, or based on assumptions. If it hits any of those red flags, discard it. Each day more actors carve uncharted paths to major success for themselves. They launch their careers using tools, opportunities, and innovation that previous generations never had.  

Following the rules limits the scope of your future. When your acting is truly great, stop waiting for breadcrumbs and handouts from others. Give yourself permission to bravely jump into the red mist.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

Zen And The Art Of Surviving The Waiting Room

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Much is spoken about how to conduct yourself properly when you walk into the audition room, but very little has been said about how to survive the psychological minefield of the waiting room. The more you can tune out the distracting and often toxic and sabotaging chit chat of other actors in the waiting area, the better your work will be when you get into the room.

I’m certain many of you have crossed paths with these pre-audition misfits.

1. The Nervous Talker: This is the guy/girl who strikes up a conversation with other actors out of abject terror. These people seem harmless, as they are often friendly and chatty. Their chosen subjects of conversation appear innocuous enough (current events, sports, the weather). However, conversing with them sucks you into their web of anxiety and can indirectly impact your performance.

Solution: Do not engage. A polite “yep” with no eye contact should give them the message. Bring headphones.  

2. The Status Signaler: This actor will try to psych you out by letting you know that they are better than you. More accomplished. These are people who talk very loudly about “my time at Juilliard” or “I miss working with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.”

Solution: The key to this person is paying less than zero attention to them. Do not look at them and try to figure out which project they worked on with P.S.H. (it was a short film no one saw; Hoffman did his lines via ADR). Do not wonder if they were at Juilliard when Lupita Nyong’o attended. Do not allow a single brain cell to engage with their blather. Headphones.

3. The Legit Psycho: This person is more toxic than the status-signaler because he/she takes their remarks up to the next level of psychological warfare.

This person might talk about how the cinematographer of the project is their dad, or how they booked their last audition with a black eye and strep throat. They might even throw out something really provocative and head-scratchy like “I once had to give Daniel Day-Lewis a shot of adrenaline in Prague.” They desire attention and know how to get it.

Solution: Ignore this person and the reactions they get from others. This person goes the extra mile to psych out their competition by putting on a show. Some actors in the waiting room are guaranteed to take the bait. Pay no attention, particularly when other actors start to engage with this person, which they almost always will. Headphones.

4. The Helper: This actor may try to throw you off your game by offering you fear-based “advice” based on their limited knowledge of the casting office, the project, the industry as a whole, or what they think will win over the room. This person thinks he/she is being helpful, but it’s really just a buffet table of insecurities. This person is looking for reassurance or someone to join forces in worry. She might say something like, “I wore flats because the lead is already cast and he’s 5’9” or “This office likes a really thrown-away read.” 

Solution: A terse “sure” with no eye contact should deliver the message that unsolicited advice is not wanted. If not: headphones.

5. The Omitters: These are some of the most common people you’ll encounter. There might be a last minute change to the prepared sides (“everyone just read page 2!!” or “we are doing cold reads with new sides”) that has been announced to everyone in the waiting room. You arrive and have missed the announcement from the CD or the session runner. As you sign in, the session runner might be busy or stepped away, and all the waiting room actors look at you, knowing that you need the new instructions. However, no one says a damn thing.

Solution: Do a cursory check with the session runner or casting associate as soon as you can (“Hi, any changes to the prepared material I should know about?")

6. The Office BFF: This actor likes to pretend they are the good buddy of the casting or production office. They greet the session runner like they’re old friends and often make reference to previous (wild) social engagements (“Next time let’s get our own strippers and helicopters!”). This person will refer to the CD by their first name, often shortened (“How’s Nance doing?”) or might have a nickname for the casting director (“Jimbo’s new little girl is precious!”).

Solution: Redirect your attention away from this person and the elaborate dance they are doing. If not: headphones.

These other actors and the noise they make should be as threatening to you as a determined mosquito. Your protection is your preparation: it should be accessible in flash, as if on the tips of your fingers. When your preparation is solid and simple, you have the freedom to show production/casting who YOU are a person before you start acting. You must walk in with the understanding that your personality may be the very thing that gets you the job before any acting takes place. If your success is dependent on a technique that requires you to fluff yourself up in the waiting room before you go in, you’re going to be vulnerable to these mosquito-actors.

You wouldn’t try to make friends at the baggage claim carousel at the airport. Take that same mentality to the audition waiting room: a bare minimum of politeness, with little to no words exchanged at all. If you have a solid preparation and a great final choice for your audition then you are impenetrable. You simply get to live off of the interest of your preparation. Just put on your headphones and tune out the waiting room.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

How To Have The Best Booking Year Ever On Your Own Terms

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With the massive shot in the arm of new content this year, it has been the busiest year for actors ever. While we can’t predict what next year will bring, we can look back at this last year in order to determine where we were challenged and caught off guard. We can use these moments as instructive springboards to be more prepared for what’s to come. 

Here’s a recap of what this year has taught us, and what we need to know to have the best booking year ever:

Be great.

It’s not enough to be “good,” you must be “great.” If you’re regularly going out for major film and TV roles, you are competing at the Olympic-level of the industry. The mafia level. The highest stakes game in the world series of poker. If you are really truly trying to a build a career in this industry, you must be great. If you are willing to go into the room with a less than stellar performance, perhaps you don’t really love acting. Take stock of what is preventing you from devoting yourself to being the best actor possible. 

There are no rules.

When you’re great, there are no rules for proper etiquette. Actors shackle each other with fear-based advice that only put obstacles in your path and screw with your head. Stop trying to model your path to success after someone else’s, as yours will definitely look very different. 

Everyone is scared. 

Not just actors. The jobs of producers, directors, writers, and casting directors are all on the line at all times. Take all hostilities with a grain of salt and take nothing personally. The casting director is trying to please the producer or agency. The director, just another fragile artist, is trying to impress everyone and show off his or her great directorial skills. The producers are trying to please the network, studio or investor team. At the end of the day, show business is a carnie lifestyle with more money on the line and accompanying panic. If someone barks at you, demeans you, mocks or dismisses you, just know that it is coming from a weak, fear-based place and view them with compassion while retaking your power back. 

Let go of outcomes.

A preoccupation with outcomes, in general, is toxic—especially for actors. With regards to the craft and your career, you must let go of your attachment to how you think something is supposed to go. The life of an actor is one big metaphorical road trip. The auditions are all the sights along the way. Just appreciate them and value them for what they can teach you. Use them as opportunities to build connections in the room and impress your peers so much to the extent that your name/face is always at the top of someone’s mental shortlist for a prospective role. 

It doesn’t get easier, you just get braver. 

This means that no matter how successful you are, sustained success in this industry is directly proportional to your work ethic and ability to do the best acting you’re capable of, and your willingness to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Some actors I meet are great at winning over the room when they walk in, but fall short with their performances. Some actors deliver perfect auditions that build on their brave performances in our coaching sessions, but stumble during the small-talk part of the audition, coming across as aloof or resigned. Other actors I work with are great at networking at cocktail nights, and at building powerful friendships in the industry, but they can’t seem to focus on preparing a solid audition despite their enormous talent.

Few people have all the tools they need to succeed. Investing in your personal development is part of the job. The parts you need to develop will force you to do scary stuff you probably aren’t crazy about doing. Your success depends on it—being brave. 

Work ethic + No/Low ego. 

Successful actors work like dogs. Sure, the work can and should be fun, but many actors simply don’t have the stomach for what it takes to make it. They aren’t willing to constantly work on their craft, seek out next-level training, and they typically scorn auditions for smaller projects because they think they’re too good for such things. Laziness combined with ego is like cyanide for your career. 

Relationships are Key.

While it’s important to form good relationships with casting directors, they do not actually cast the bulk of the roles. That is the job of the production team. Only a small percentage of major roles—series leads/series regulars, leading/supporting roles—actually go through a traditional casting office. The majority of major roles are directly cast through production companies by the producers, networks, showrunners, and writers—miles before they ever are in a casting office. Casting directors who also teach acting classes are going to tell you that all casting goes through them to propagate the false notion that casting directors are the gatekeepers of your career. They’re not. It behooves you to understand the limitations of casting directors, while still forming warm relationships with their offices. Production offices, producers, showrunners, and writers should be the center of your focus when it comes to relationship building. There’s a right way to meet and stay in touch with them, updating them on your career path when appropriate.

Very few people I work with are doing everything they can to inch their career forward. Let’s all agree to meet the new year with a renewed spirit of bravery and a commitment to proactive effort. We can all meet the challenges of this industry, along with the ones inherent in ourselves, head-on and with vigor.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

How To Turn Any Acting Note Into An Audition Win

Getting an acting note is fantastic in any context. It means the acting coach, director or casting director is paying close attention to your work and wants to refocus it in some manner. Tinkering is a part of any craft, and it is how you reach a level of excellence. At an audition, notes are still great to receive, even though many actors don’t see it that way. Some of my clients view getting a note in an audition context as a sign that the director/casting director didn’t like something they did, or that their choice was off. I give this interpretation an emphatic no. It means that you have their attention and that something you did intrigued them and they want to see more. Don’t let getting a redirect rattle you. Use it as a springboard to solidify a spectacular audition.

1. Get clarification

Many people who work in entertainment do not know how to give actors useful notes. This includes screenwriters, directors, producers, playwrights and sometimes even casting directors. Some of the most insightful creators and writers are shockingly some of the worst communicators. Many of these people view acting as this mysterious process and they feel very comfortable critiquing it watching television on their couch at home. However, when it comes to shaping a performance, they can often not supply much clarity other than remarks like, “not so big… softer.”

Many directors, with the actual producing teams behind them, will often feel compelled to give a note, even if your performance was flawless. This is a manifestation of their own anxieties: they want to show the producers that hired them that they know how to direct actors. So this will often translate into vague or tepid notes to actors, to “just change it up” or “do something different this time.” This is a great example of some of the garbage notes actors often get.

In this case, don't be afraid to get further clarification of any notes that may be confusing. Demand specificity. Ask a question like, “Oh, ok, do you want me to show more hesitation or do you want more conviction?” Often providing the note-giver with two choices in your question can help force them to offer more specificity. If they say anything that doesn’t make any sense (which often happens), you MUST ask that follow-up question.

For example, one of my clients got a note where the director told her at a second callback to be more rhythmic. My client wasn’t sure what this meant, so she said, “more rhythmic, when I raise my voice?” And the director said, “yeah, like bones.” Bones? Luckily, my client asked for further clarification and he said, “Say the lines more rhythmically like bones snapping together.” Oh, ok. Taking that five seconds to receive more clarity meant that she could take a very oddly-worded note and apply it directly to her performance.  

2. Take your space

You'll want to get some distance from the note-giver and take a brief moment to process it. Don’t succumb to the sense of urgency that can sometimes exist in the room. On occasion, the people in the audition room are cranky or impatient—that’s not your problem. Take a minute to think about what the note means to you, how it impacts your perspective of the character or the script. Take a second to get a sense of what you’re going to do. Don’t feel like you have to hurry up and act, especially if that might cause you to do something that is motivated by a sense of panic. This is still your audition. Gather a few seconds to digest the note.

Sometimes you’ll need to gently remind the casting team of your rights as a professional.

When pushed to take a structurally significant note immediately, a phenomenally talented client in my Master Class likes to say this: “You want me to do well. I want to do well. I’m going to take this outside for a few minutes.” Take the time you need. Stand up for yourself! Most reasonable casting or producing professionals will not have a problem with such a request.

3. Make it your own

When your preparation is solid, often the note is only a minor tweak to freshen your "hook." This helps you adopt a new emotional attitude, giving you a renewed perspective on the scene. Even so, you must make the note your own. A note from the casting team is like someone tossing you a hat and saying, “here, put this on.” So put it on. But just like real life, you wouldn’t just plunk a hat on your head and walk around in it willy-nilly without tweaking it a little. You’d bend the brim, cock it upwards, turn it off center, slide it backward or inside out, slice open the lining, or add a pin or a sticker you liked to the outside. You would make it your own before parading all around town in it. You have to let those same instincts rule in this case. Whatever note you get, you have to let it jive with the character you’ve created and “adjust the adjustment” so that it meshes with the world you’ve developed. You have a right to give yourself that freedom.

Remember, the difference between "good" acting and "great" acting is the ability to start every scene emotionally full and lit up. Getting a note from the director does not invalidate the choice you made—in many cases, it’s just the opposite. If you went into the audition with an awesome and bold choice, don’t be rattled if you get a note. Production or casting can always pull you back, and sometimes they will, but they will never pull that awesome and bold choice out of you if you don't have the courage to do it when you walked in.

And while the note you get might sound nonsensical, it’s your job to build a bridge of communication between you and the director, helping this person engage in dialogue with actors. This is so important as it gives everyone in the room a glimpse of how you like to work and shows that you can make adjustments on set.

This article was originally posted on Backstage.

Why The Table Read Is Still An Audition

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Booking any role is not a guarantee that you’re going to keep it. This is one of the melancholy facts of this highly fickle business. I have overheard insecure, stressed-out producers whisper in a corner after a table read, saying things like, You still like her? I didn’t like her voice, did you like her voice? She’s got that weird thing with her eye, did you notice that? I’m not sure if she’s going to be able to nail it…

You have to learn how to survive the table read. Think of the table read as meeting your boyfriend or girlfriend’s family over dinner. Sure, your significant other likes you—at least enough to invite you to this family meal, but you still need to win over his difficult siblings, stern parents and weirdo aunts and uncles (who all have their own baggage, scars, and insecurities).

The table read is often one of the most misunderstood parts of the process for actors. A typical table read involves a group of people—actors, directors, writers, producers—

who have sacrificed their time to sit around a table at a designated location to read through the script. Most table reads are an exercise in wasted time and negligence.

There is typically a table with bagels, muffins, fruit and some other craft service items to the side. I would advise you to eat before you arrive so you’re not hungry. The food is a distraction to your performance. I’ve seen actors walk around and network after the table read with food stuck in their teeth and while I’ve never seen any actor replaced because of this… there’s a first time for everything. 

Unfortunately, the table read begins and ends with everyone’s heads buried in their scripts and not looking nor talking to each other. Thus, the awesome potential of the table read to make a deep connection to the text and to the other actors—to really talk and really listen to them—has been squandered due to negligence, ignorance or both. The greater danger to the actor is that many of them arrive at the table read unsure of how big their performance should be, or how small. Should they seem confident and just “go for it” or should they seem confident and give a more subdued, thrown-away performance? 

Follow these 4 Rules of the Table Read to ensure that you give everyone the ironclad reassurance that yes, you are the best actor for the role and that they have all done their jobs to the highest level of excellence in hiring you. And as a bonus, you get to keep the job you worked so hard to earn. 

1. Up and out!

The technical rules of the table read are exactly the same as the cold read. When talking to another person, get your head up and out of the script and actually talk to them. This by no means suggests that you must force hard eye contact—just keep your head out of the script. The same goes when listening. Don’t break the connection to your partner to see what your next line is, but rather keep your head up and out to listen. During the in-between moments, you can scoop the text off of your page with your eyes.

2. One hand on the text

Hold your script in one hand. Holding any script with two hands forces the acting to be from the neck up. As we live in our whole bodies as human beings, acting should be no less physical. Also, a one-handed grip on the script exudes confidence. It shows you’re familiar with the material, and comfortable with the character—so much so that you can free up an entire hand to help convey your performance.

3. Play yourself

It’s important to tap the gas lightly on any intense acting “choices” you have made so that you’re not entering the table read in gear. You want to be in neutral. We do this so that we don’t lose the element of surprise when we’re on set/on stage. The simple rule is this: Keep a little to yourself. In other words, don’t give away your hand at the table read of the brave and fun choices that you’re ultimately going to do on set. Also, there’s a danger of looking green if you’re the one actor at the table read who is weeping real tears, screaming till hoarse, sweating, drooling, dying etc. It’s still a table read.

You’re not expected to deliver 100% all the time. If you’re the one person killing yourself to reach some awful tragic climax, it could very well work against you. Get into the zone of sadness, heartbreak, fury, vindictiveness, annoyance, lust, dysfunction—but just stick one foot in. Save the rest for when you are on set or on stage. 

4. Be scary real

“Out-real” the other actors. Be so real that the actors you’re speaking with cannot tell that you’re “acting.” That said, this does not mean deliver 100% (see #3 above). Be scary real in the sense that you have fully merged with the character and that no one can see the scaffolding of your craft. So take time to prepare and do whatever it is you do that helps you get into character. Have your hook ready. Do everything that you would do before an audition, so that like a musician, you don’t have to think about where you’re putting your fingers on the keys/ strings of the instrument—the instrument being you.

If you follow these four steps, I guarantee you will keep your job. At worst: If the producers get antsy and anxious, your name will not come up as the one that needs to be replaced. At best: you will be the one where other attendees of the table read say, “that so-and-so was great/so perfect/flawless casting.”

This article was originally posted on Backstage.