While you’re going to take on a host of characters and personalities throughout your career, it still remains a fact that in order to succeed you’re going to have to be yourself in this business. And I’m not going to blabber and drill you with that hollow old adage, “just be yourself and everything will work out amazing” because as we all know too well, that isn’t always the case. But finding success in the acting world, as well as in entertainment, is completely about carving out your niche as a performer and tapping into what makes you unique and sets you apart from others in your bracket. As well as finding and unlocking the reserves of confidence that you YOURSELF are going to have to hold onto when times get tough and the rejection splashes over you like a powerful rogue wave.
So in this business of being yourself: What are some of the important things to remember?
You’re the product: George Clooney said it best during an old Inside the Actor’s Studio interview when he said this:
“The product you’re selling is you, we’re all salesmen as actors, but the product you’re selling is extremely and completely personal.”
What George Clooney was referring to is that your typical salesmen will always have different products, or different versions of the same product to sell. But when you’re in the business of selling yourself, you only have one you. If you get turned down at an audition, or fired from a job, it’s going to be impossible not to take it personal because that person, or director, didn’t want you. This is what makes acting such an intimate and intense experience that is often fueled by gut-wrenching rejection. What you can take comfort in is that not everybody is going to want you, but if you stick to your guns as a person and a performer you will work yourself into those areas that are right for you. The rejection is going to hurt, you can’t avoid that, but you just have to learn to deal with it and carry on.
Confidence in You
Having confidence, or learning to develop confidence is one of the most powerful selling skills, as well as coping skills for actors. Most actors have built up a strong level of self-confidence by battling off criticism and rejection. When you walk into an audition, immediately the director and casting directors are going to be able to tell if you’re confident or nervous. They will be reluctant to hire you if you don’t come across as confident, which shows them that they can have faith in you to play the part. Also, your road to success is going to be filled with potholes trying to slowly scrape away at your confidence and self-esteem. Having faith in yourself and your abilities is going to be the big pulling factor that keeps urging you to move forward and take the next step.
The craft of acting is all about being human
Acting is all about bringing real human experience and emotion to the camera. So in order to do this authentically, you’re going to have to draw from your own life experiences and emotions. This is how you’re going to make your performance believable in front of an audience. You could say that being an actor is just like being in a continual state of self-discovery and self-sacrifice. You constantly have to search deep into the archives of past experiences, moments, and thoughts, to find bits of yourself you can bring to new characters you play and sacrificing yourself as a vessel to convey these experiences to your audience. By deciding to be an actor, you’re committing yourself to connecting with humans and people at an ultra-personal level. You have to commit yourself to breaking down the walls and offering every bit of who you are to your audience. The only way you can do this is finding your truth and living with it cohesively, as well as finding the truth of the characters you play.
Being yourself in this business is absolutely everything. It’s the gold mine that you have to draw from with every new job that you take on. It’s why acting classes can often feel like emotional torture and therapy at the same time — we’re having to search deep within ourselves, sometimes into deep places that we want to avoid in order to open up what it is we need to bring to the material. So don’t be afraid to go there, to continually discover, learn, and show exactly who you are. That’s where the good stuff is.