In life, over half the battle is suiting up and showing up. At least that’s what I was told anyway. It isn’t about where we show up to, or even the sometimes, seemingly deep reasons, why we show up there. It’s really about what we’re showing up with.
This is especially true in the case of the audition process. Although our why is the heart of things, (for us) “what” you bring is PRETTY damn important, (for them) especially if it’s not quite seasoned just right.
The best acting teacher in the world, (David LeGrant) always warned us about getting overly excited to be seen by anyone in the business that had the ability to hire us. He would say, “Be careful in your early training NOT to be too eager to get yourselves into showcases, for the simple fact that there might not be anything in your case, to show.”
I laughed every time. (R.I.P. Sweet David.)
It may sound a bit harsh, but it’s definitely true. The ego, along with our right brain gets all hopped up, and delivers us something like: “Let’s do this!” Our left brain justifies it, buys it, and with spontaneous acting skills derived from nowhere, (other than perhaps our backsides) we leap. We make short films, we write our own plays, and or we crash auditions for parts that we are usually completely WRONG or unprepared for.
People have way better recall than we think, especially casting Directors! Having this skill, saves them time, money, and frustration. The wonderful airy-fairy idea of them possibly understanding that you are an actor who is constantly growing and improving your skills, is wishful thinking. Many green actors will think that just because they haven't read for a particular casting agent for a substantial amount of time, that they will be granted not just a do-over, but that they will be met with an open minded approach and a clean slate. Yeah, not so much. It’s more similar to, “Hey, that’s the amateurish waiter that was all awkward, the last time we were here. I’ll never make the mistake of sitting in their section on purpose, again.” When your “headshot” comes across their desk, the last note you sang, literally or figuratively, is what they remember.
Of course some of us have experienced situations that could only be deemed supernatural, as far as witnessing an unexpected and drastic shift in a person’s demeanor, but it is very rare. Accidentally getting the same waiter or waitress that was unacceptably rude to you the first few times that you were blessed with their service, then witnessing a miraculous spiritual awakening, that seems to have reincarnated them into a kind, generous, and helpful service professional, is nothing that can be counted on. Professionals that are in charge of hiring talent want professionals that they can count on. Actors that can act, and can be expected to do so regularly, are the ones that get the calls, and they book. The others slip and slide around any casting office they can get into until some of the mud sticks.
When new pianists are first starting out, they are drilled endlessly, to work on learning notes, familiarizing themselves with keys, doing finger exercises, scales, connecting notes etc. NOT playing music.
I have found that many creatives, especially actors, want to just dive in and bang on the keys.
It’s true, there are several wonderful stories about the ultra determined actors that moved to Hollywood and started working right away, but even they were pointed to the safe and sacred playgrounds of acting class, to build, solidify, and maintain the beautiful instrument that they were gifted.
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