Acting Tricks to Help You Stop Playing the Stooge

Acting Tricks to Help You Stop Playing the Stooge
Acting Tricks to Help You Stop Playing the Stooge

Are you one of those people who values cooperativeness over-assertiveness? Would you rather back down in a confrontation, doing anything to avoid seeming too bossy? Are you constantly afraid that others won’t like you unless you give in to them?

Possibly you have your favorite seat on your regular commuter train or space on the floor to stand during a kickboxing class. To make sure you get this spot, you arrive early enough to occupy it. Some latecomer arrives and insists on pushing you out of the way. To avoid seeming rude, you feel like you have no choice but to accommodate that other person’s demands. You might not even have a regular spot that you claim as your own, but instead may be stuck waiting in a very long line at a checkout counter. Just as you’re about to move to the head of the line, someone comes racing in and, without even asking, stands right in front of you. Not to the side, but right in front. Your cooperative nature surfaces, and before you can question this person’s right to shove you around, you’ve got to wait that much longer for your turn.

People who assert themselves over others, despite what’s “right,” perhaps rarely have insight into their own behavior. They continue to be rewarded for their pushiness, because there are enough people like you who find this behavior difficult to confront. Although your niceness can win you all kinds of praise and regard from those you interact with, aren’t there times when you’d like to be the one to have your way?

A new study based on the voice patterns that professional actors use to portray certain types of characters may be just what you need to help express, and satisfy, your needs in these situations. McMaster University’s (Hamilton, Ontario) Matthew Berry and Steven Brown (2019) investigated the vocal tones that actors use to convey assertiveness as part of their character depictions. As the authors note, to get into their roles, actors can take on the personalities and identities of their characters either through “method” acting, in which they literally become the character or by altering their outward appearance to make it seem as if they are what the audience expects from a given role. Even if they do try to slip inside the character’s identity, they have to make some changes in their speech, mannerisms, and ways of interacting with the other players to convey the particular persona the role requires.

Think about Meryl Streep in her iconic role in The Devil Wears Prada, where she is anything but a pushover as a fashion magazine editor, and her completely contrasting role as a meek and humble mother-in-law in the latest season of Big Little Lies. Whether or not she herself feels she has become the person she’s portraying, her outward mannerisms from the Prada Streep are barely recognizable. Berry and Brown believe that all acting roles fall into one of nine types based on whether they are high, medium, or low on the two dimensions of assertiveness and cooperativeness. Knowing how actors navigate these spots on the matrix could help you move from the cooperative to the assertive side on those occasions when you worry about being a pushover.

The nine character types with their associated dimensions are as follows:

Bully: High assertiveness, low cooperativeness

King/Queen: High assertiveness, medium cooperativeness

Hero(ine): High assertiveness, high cooperativeness article continues after advertisement

Cynic: Medium assertiveness, low cooperativeness

Self-portrayal (for actors portraying themselves): Medium assertiveness, medium cooperativeness

Librarian: Medium assertiveness, high cooperativeness

Recluse: Low assertiveness, low cooperativeness

Loner: Low assertiveness, medium cooperativeness

Lover: Low assertiveness, high cooperativeness

If you’re the “lover type” (romantic or otherwise), then you want to seem as “lovable” as possible. To move up the assertiveness hierarchy, you could stay cooperative by progressing slightly up to the hero type, if you still want people to like you. Becoming a bully would most likely not feel very comfortable, so perhaps you could take on some of the features of a king or queen.

Berry and Brown presented 24 actors with the nine character types (14 men, ranging from 20 to 63 years of age). Rather than give the players scripts with already established characters, the Canadian researchers gave their actors the category names, as above, along with a monologue script consisting of seven neutral sentences, organized around a narrative of representing objects in a room. The authors then analyzed audio and video recordings of the performances to learn primarily how the actors used their voices to portray the nine types of roles. Recording the actors in an ordinary conversation also allowed Berry and Brown to obtain a control baseline.

Imagine hearing what some of those characters would sound like to you. According to Brown and Berry, the most important qualities are pitch (high or low), loudness, timbre (wavering or solid), speed (rapid or slow), and continuity (taking pauses or speaking without a break). Comparing the speech ratings of the actors, the authors found reliable differences according to the assertiveness dimension, but only scattered results with respect to cooperativeness. Apparently, it is more difficult for the actors to distinguish themselves as loners vs. lovers than loners vs. cynics.

What ways of speaking led actors to seem more assertive? The study team’s findings can be summed up with these six acting tricks:

  1. Up pitched—Use a higher-toned voice without going up into falsetto tones.
  2. Loud—Speak up, as a quiet voice conveys low assertiveness.
  3. Clear—Use clear tones in your speech without wavering.
  4. Swift—Speak quickly to show you know what you want to say.
  5. No gaps—Leave out the “ums” and other signs of hesitation.
  6. Add Variety—Allow your voice to go up and down in tone, loudness, and rapidity to show that you are in control of what you want to say.

Practice these tricks yourself now by trying to portray the role of your favorite hero, or perhaps, your beloved bully. How has your voice changed from the way you normally speak? Hold onto this the next time you are faced with a potential pushover-like situation.article continues after advertisement

One other interesting result from the study involved the performance persona that the actors used when portraying themselves. Berry and Brown regard some aspects of the tonal qualities of this type of speech as similar to infant-directed communication (“motherese”), which, in their words “is the characteristic situation of caregiver-infant interaction, but is also the discursive arrangement of a seminar speaker, a tour guide, the narrator of a story, and many other situations where one speaker plays a dominant role in an interaction with attentive, but typically silent, recipients” (p. 15). If you’ve had to read a speech to your audiences, instead of talking without notes, you’ve probably adopted this tone of voice as well. Teaching versus conversing, therefore, carries distinct qualities all its own.

To sum up, it appears that, whether or not you feel more assertive, you can fool your listeners into thinking that you are just by virtue of the way you speak. Rather than needing weeks of assertiveness training to be better at getting your way, the Brown and Berry study hints that using your voice can help you accomplish the same goals.

Five Acting Techniques To Help You Quickly Get Into Character

Five Acting Techniques To Help You Quickly Get Into Character

Five Acting Techniques To Help You Quickly Get Into Character

If you’ve ever gotten to meet a truly great actor just after they have performed a role on stage, you might have been shocked by just how different they are face to face.

Of course, we all know that the character on the stage or in the film isn’t the same as the person playing him or her. However, to see and hear that actor up close, to witness their transformation in that context can still be a bit unexpected.

So how do they do it? As actors we all have those friends and colleagues who seem to effortlessly slip into character just before a performance or an audition–what’s their secret? Here are a few procedures that can help ease your way into getting into character more smoothly and quickly.

1. Inside Out

The truth is the real secret to great acting is hard work. As much as we lionize and admire masterful actors like Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep for their seemingly effortless gift for playing characters, the truth is that all the greats are incredibly hard workers. Sure, there is such a thing as inborn talent. But without hard work that talent would wither and die. So the first step to playing a character is to know who you are. Research, research, research. You should know the piece backward and forward, the era, the time of year, time of day, etc. You should also know where you are coming from. As Michael Shurtleff, author of the seminal actor’s handbook “Audition” says, “Every scene you will ever act begins in the middle, and it is up to you, the actor, to provide what comes before.” And this applies not just to the literal moments leading up to the scene you’re about to play–you also have to know your character as you know yourself. What made them who they are today? What kind of childhood did they have? Imagine some experiences that may have shaped them as you yourself have been shaped. The more you can take the time to do this kind of background work and internalize this sort of research, the easier it will be to slip into the skin of your character when the moment comes.

2. Outside In

So that takes care of the internal part of the character. Now for the external. You may hear some actors refer to themselves as “inside-out” actors, or “outside-in” actors. This usually refers to whether they approach the creation of the character from the internal, mental and emotional base, or if they approach it from the externalities, like a limp or other physical mannerisms, or a costume or wig or something like that. It’s important to building a genuine character to use both internals and externals, but once you’ve locked in a solid way of physically being with the character, it becomes much easier to slip into it. Just to look at one example: is your character shy? Or bold? Think about how that will affect the set of his or her shoulders, the way they walk, the way make and hold eye contact, etc. As you’re learning the lines, get up and move around. How do the words you’re saying make you feel, in a physical sense? Every real actual human being in the world is made up of layer upon layer of psychological, emotional, and mental baggage that informs how we move and speak–in order to play a genuine character you need to build up a simulacrum of that. It sounds silly, but it’s amazing how easy it is to “put on” a character once you’ve established a physical shell for him or her to reside in.

3. Where Are You Going

That gets us to the present, how the character became who and what they are, and what forces shaped them, both mentally and physically. Now it’s time to focus on what is to come for the character. What do you want as the character? What is your objective in the scene and in the overall piece? This is obviously Acting 101-level stuff that we all know and will have worked on by now. But it’s vital that you take a little extra care here, in order to get yourself in a state where you are truly inhabiting the character. Too many of us go into an audition thinking about what we wore (Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it too much? Too little?) worrying about forgetting lines, thinking about what the casting director might be looking for, (Am I too fat/thin/old/young?). Or perhaps we’re simply dreaming about what we’re going to do with all that filthy lucre once we land the gig. In other words, our minds are in million pieces and in a million places that have nothing to do the character we’re supposed to be playing. So as backwards as it may sound, just before stepping into the audition room or into the scene, stop thinking about the lines for a moment and instead really focus on what you want as the character. What are you trying to make happen? As humans we’re all driven by our desires, both hidden and apparent. In order to play a genuine character, you must let those desires come to the fore.

4. Focus

As discussed, so much of what we see as great, natural ease with acting is really the result of hard work. That holds true for getting into character as well. Acting requires a tremendous amount of concentration. When you’re acting, you’re pulling off an insane balancing act: saying words that you know by heart but that must appear to be spontaneous, and portraying a person that is you, but not really you–in other words you must “…behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” as Sanford Meisner said. In order to do that you need to focus yourself. If you’re in a busy audition waiting room, try to find a quiet corner when your time is coming up. Take some deep breaths and focus all your energy on the previous background work you’ve done. Sure, it’s possible to go directly from a silly conversation with another actor about last weekend’s party into playing a character, but you’re likely to have better results if you take the time to properly focus your energies.

5. From Your Heart and Soul

So much of what comes out in our words and behaviors originates in nothingness. That is, a thought is just the electrochemical firing of communication between neurons in our brains, a tiny, infinitesimal bit of energy. You can’t weigh a thought; you can’t measure it physically. Yet those thoughts can manifest in very real externals: nervous sweat, red-faced anger, tears of sorrow. So the first step to playing a genuine character is to believe in yourself as the actor who is right to play him or her. Confidence–like nervousness, anger, or sadness–radiates outwards and manifests in our physicality. If you believe in yourself as an actor, your belief in your character will reflect that. Let go of doubt, and take all the hard work you’ve done to get where you are, and let it shine. The result will be a genuine, deep, and rich character!

10 Podcasts You Should Be Listening to as an Actor

10 Podcasts You Should Be Listening to as an Actor

As podcasts continue to skyrocket in popularity, more and more of these listening entertainment options are hitting the market space each month. The challenging part now is deciding which podcasts are worth the time and effort investment. As a busy actor, you might often feel pressed for time. Here are ten podcasts that actors should check out for both entertainment and informational purposes:

BROADWAY’S BACKBONE

Host Brad Bradley delves deep into the unsung heroes of any Broadway production by interviewing the ensemble cast, chorus members, and dancers that give life to any show.

HOLLYWOOD HUSTLE

With a purpose of inspiring its listeners, this podcast brings the struggles of those in the industry into focus through a series of interviews with those on their way up the career ladder.

THE YOUNG ACTOR’S GUIDE

Hosted by casting director and mom Dana Bowling, this informative podcast is ideal for parents and young kids looking for advice on navigating this often overwhelming yet exciting journey.

HOLLYWOOD CLOSE-UP

This empowering podcast focuses on providing practical advice and inspiration for creating your own career path in this complicated industry.

THEATER PEOPLE

Host Patrick Hinds uses his extensive podcast work experience to bring to light the extraordinary lives of Broadway performers. This show boasts a myriad of full-length interviews with a host of theater legends and Tony Award winners.

IN THE ENVELOPE

Focused on both the big screen and the Broadway stage, this podcast delivers a variety of interviews of some of the most famous names in the business. The inspirational edge will leave listeners feeling like they are not in this alone.

SOUND ADVICE

Hands-down the best podcast for those looking to break into the voiceover market, this show focuses on the current trends and instructional advice for the industry and how you can make the most of any opportunity.

LIVING THE DREAM

Tony-nominated actor Rory O’Malley hosts this light-hearted and funny show about how to keep your cool in this field. O’Malley brings in his acting industry friends to share insights and stories guaranteed to make you smile.

CINEMA AFTER DARK

With a focus on the independent film industry, this podcast looks at this often ignored subset of the field. Host Max Cole uses his expertise in independent filmmaking to bring to light stories from the industry in a way that connects with listeners.

THAT ONE AUDITION WITH ALYSHIA OCHSE

Producer and actress Alyshia Ochse interviews a bevy of Hollywood insiders who reveal their real-life audition stories. This candid and humorous podcast can be counted on to make you laugh while also giving you practical advice about making the most of any audition opportunity.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

15 Famous Actors Who Turned Down Superhero Roles

15 Famous Actors Who Turned Down Superhero Roles

1. Jon Hamm as Green Lantern

Jon Hamm is a huge fan of superhero movies but bluntly passed on the opportunity to portray Green Lantern in the 2011 film, because he was disappointed with the direction in which the studios were taking them.

2. Tom Cruise as Iron Man

Tom Cruise has praised Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal of Iron Man, saying he was the perfect match for the role of Tony Stark and despite persistent rumors, he was never close to obtaining the part.

3. Matt Damon as Daredevil

Childhood pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were both eager for a shot at the main role in “Daredevil.” Damon ultimately ended up passing after getting a look at the subpar script.

4. Kate Beckinsale as Wonder Woman

Although Beckinsale was considered for the role of Diana Prince in “Wonder Woman,” she ultimately declined. She delicately implied the script was lacking and stated her days of wearing skin tight costumes are at an end.

5. Pierce Brosnan as Batman

Before he was enjoying a shaken martini as Bond, Brosnan was offered the role of Batman in the Tim Burton franchise. He mistakenly thought the movie would be a cheesy superhero flick and wanted to take on more serious films.

6. Emily Blunt as Black Widow

This British star regrets having to turn down the part of Black Widow in 2009. She had already committed to “Gulliver’s Travels” with Jack Black.

7. Josh Hartnett as Spider-Man

Early in his career, Hartnett was offered the role of Spider-man. He turned it down due to fear that he would be typecast as a superhero character.

8. Amandla Stenberg as Shuri

Shuri, Princess of Wakanda is a prime role from “Black Panther” turned down by Stenberg after much thought. She felt her skin was too light for the role, and it would detract from the film.

9. Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

Not eager for the limelight this role would bring, Larson turned down the offer to be Captain Marvel in the 2015 film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” She later had a change of heart and will play the part in 2019.

10. Paul Newman as Lex Luthor

Newman was in good company when he refused a four million dollar offer to play Lex Luthor in the 1978 “Superman” film. Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford also declined to be in the film.

11. Leonardo DiCaprio as Spider-Man

While DiCaprio does not think the part of Spider-Man would have impacted the trajectory of his career, he felt he was not yet ready to take on the role when it was offered to him by James Cameron.

12. Jessica Chastain as The Wasp

Chastain was very interested in becoming part of a superhero franchise, but when she was offered the role of The Wasp, the amount of screen time was not enough for her.

13. Heath Ledger as Batman

Though Ledger did appear as The Joker in the “Batman” sequel, he originally was not compelled enough by the series to accept the role of Batman.

14. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Star-Lord

Gordon-Levitt would later regret turning down the part of Star-Lord to appear in the unsuccessful “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”

15. Will Smith as Superman

The 2006 film, “Superman Returns” almost featured Smith in the starring role. He turned it down because he feared fans would be upset at a Superman with darker skin.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

7 Must-Read Books For Actors

7 Must-Read Books For Actors

Whether you are already an established actor, an actor looking to make a name for themselves in the industry, or just interested in the opinion of other actors, there are several books out there that would behoove you to read. The backgrounds of these books are varied and range in various aspects so there is sure to be something out there for anyone searching. From director to actor, and playwright to teacher, these are books that are sure to have something for everyone looking to hone in on their craft.

1. A Life in Parts

This autobiography by Bryan Cranston essentially acts as a muse and inspiration for the reader. If you are looking to build your career, gain skills to becoming a better actor, and understand the all-around works of acting in general, than this book is for you.

2. An Actor Prepares

This popular book by Constantin Stanislavski is one of the best, known training books for an actor in the world. This is a book published in the mid-1930s that helps lay the groundwork and fundamentals of acting from every standpoint. You are taught the ways of giving a performance that comes off as real and authentic while also understanding how to prepare for the acting world. It is not enough to just act but to also have the mindset of acting. An Actor Prepares helps with that and so much more.

3. The Actor and the Target

This guide by Declan Donnellan speaks from the perspective of a director. It has a sense of practicality and authenticity not normally found from the director’s perspective so it would definitely behoove someone wanting to see that perspective.

4. The Golden Rules of Acting

This book by Andy Nyman conveys a tale of an actor trying to make it in the world and how to best accomplish that. It is about being successful and working hard to attain that dream by any means necessary.

5. Audition

What is interesting about this book is it is by a casting director, Michael Shurtleff Michael Shurtleff has worked on many different plays that most of us have heard of and talks of the atmosphere between his role and that of the actors. It is an interesting spin that many will find interesting and useful.

6. Respect for Acting

This book is a classic that has been around for over 40 years. Written by Uta Hagen, this book gives the perspective of an acting teacher who helps actors develop their craft and understand what is expected of them in the industry.

7. Actions: the Ator’s Thesaurus

This is an interesting book on the rehearsal by Marina Caldarone that goes into the science and technique of what is expected when rehearsing for a role. You are given action words and other verbiage to help with the layout of a rehearsal room and how to nail it the first time around.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

Why It’s Important For Actors to Think On Their Feet

Why It's Important For Actors to Think On Their Feet

“I got your back.”

This phrase has been repeated for years before scenes begin, curtains rise, and audiences hush. It’s a reminder that no matter what happens, even if there’s jitters or someone forgets a line, others will do their best to help keep the story on track.

That’s the power of thinking on your feet or improvisation.

To many actors, this is a powerful creative tool. A way to add personal elements to a story that would otherwise be unseen. Elements that simply cannot be communicated in a script in every detail. In other words, it adds a more imperfect, human touch.

This is why improvisation is so vital to a performance, or to any piece of art. Mistakes will no doubt be made, but if you have a good actor or team, they can literally think their way out of it in real time. They can save the show.

The secret is not to move forward, but backward.

Instead of trying to decide all these details in your head and create a whole world around yourself, start small. Who are you, and who is she? Where are we? What are we trying to accomplish? By asking little questions and playing off of the responses to these questions, actors can create worlds they never knew existed.

In fact, you may be surprised how many famous scenes in movies were actually improvised. Take a look at the sword vs. gun scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Initially, that scene was supposed to be an elaborate sword and whip fight, but due to Harrison Ford getting food poisoning, he quickly pulled his revolver on the villain instead. Some believe this made Indy even more of a rebel than he was before and benefited the scene.

Or the classic line “You talkin’ to me?,” found in Robert De Niro’s performance in Taxi Driver. So memorable and iconic, and very much improvised.

That’s not to say that it’s without effort. While a majority of acting requires the memorization of lines to tell a story, improvisation requires something different: adaptability, creativity, and steady nerves. This is the case whether the actor is working on a blockbuster movie scene with endless retakes or a stage play in front of a crowd of people. This is because directors don’t always stick to the script.

“There are certain times when a whole scene could get added,” says RJ Cyler who co-stars in White Boy Rick alongside Matthew McConaughey. “You need to know it in 30 minutes as if you’ve been rehearsing it for 2 years.”

If this sounds like a challenge, you’d be right.

It goes beyond that though, it’s a war. A battle to meet together and perform a clear vision of the story, true to its original form and spirit. All are fighting to bring their art to life.

This is because, as with any piece of art, the beauty lies in the imperfections.

Logan Sekulow is a successful producer and director. He is known for relaunching the popular studio known as Laugh-O-Gram studios.

Five Tips for Becoming a Successful Voice-Over Actor

Five Tips for Becoming a Successful Voice-Over Actor

Are you interested in doing voice-over work? Voice-over actors work on cartoons, television and radio commercials and more. If you want to get into this career, it can be valuable to get advice from professionals in the field. Consider these five tips from casting directors so you can get a leg up on your voice-over career!

Nurture Your Acting Skills

Voice-over work requires you to convey as much feeling as an actor would in a television show or movie. Studying acting means learning how to find the motivation behind a character’s actions and delivering a convincing portrayal of a character. A voice-over actor uses these same skills. Voice-over actors are just as physical as stage or film actors as they move around and gesture while portraying a character. Voice-over actors must put even more emotion into their performance because they’re behind-the-scenes.

Don’t Try to Imitate Others

Maybe you give a great imitation of a voice-over actor working on television today. Imitating the actor is good for practice, but it’s best to carve out your own niche in voice-over acting. Come up with your own voices and characters so you aren’t just an imitation of what is already being done. After all, you’re trying to blaze your own trail as a voice-over actor.

Learn How to Evaluate A Script

Evaluating a voice-over script is an important part of the work of this type of actor. Evaluate the script by determining what kind of character you are playing. How can you bring vitality and life to the character? What tone of voice would suit that character? Reading through the dialogue and getting a feel for the character is going to prove useful for your audition. Casting directors can tell which voice-over actors do their homework and which fly by the seat of their pants for an audition.

Practice Your Skills With Commercials

Practicing your voice-over skills is easily done by listening to and imitating commercials on radio and television. Pay attention to the tone of the voice-over actor, the pauses and the inflections in the person’s voice. Knowing when to pause or how to adjust your tone are two invaluable skills that can be learned by paying close attention to successful voice-over actors.

Arrive Early to an Audition

Whether you’re a stage actor, a movie actor or a voice-over actor, it’s always a good idea to arrive early to an audition. This gives you time to examine the script and your part in it. You can use the time to evaluate what your part is and come up with some strategies for voices. Also, utilize the time to warm-up your vocal cords and relax before your time to audition arrives.

Conclusion

These are just five tips to keep in mind as you go on auditions. Even if you don’t get a part after auditioning, you can still count it as valuable experience to incorporate on your next audition.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director who’s responsible for relaunching Laugh-O-Gram studios.

7 Must Read Books For All Actors

7 Must Read Books For All Actors

Becoming a successful actor requires total commitment to your craft. There’s no such thing as a day off when you’re memorizing scripts, scouring the web for auditions and rehearsing lines on a loop.

When it’s time to sit back and unwind, you can still learn a thing or two about how to improve your acting, land better gigs and find the type of roles you long to perform.

These seven books are essential reading material for the aspiring and professional actor alike.

1. “Audition” By Michael Shurtleff

Written by the director of legendary shows like “Chicago” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Audition” offers actors detailed advice on how to develop their own unique acting style and tailor their performances to specific roles and auditions.

Although the book was written in 1987 and is dated in some aspects, it still offers plenty of sound suggestions worth learning today.

2. “The Actor and the Target” By Declan Donnellan

Actors like Alan Rickman and Peter Brook praised Donnellan’s work, which provides a guide to acting from a director’s perspective. Directing, like acting, is subjective, but you can gain a lot of valuable insight by learning about acting from the other side of the camera.

3. “True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor” By David Mamet

Mamet is an award-winning director who has earned a Pulitzer Prize and Tony nominations for his plays like “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Speed-the-Plow”. In his book, Mamet gives aspiring actors tips on how to approach agents, evaluate a role and work one-on-one with a playwright to bring out the best performance possible.

4. “Respect for Acting” By Uta Hagen

The Hagen acting method encourages actors to “become” their character. Uta Hagen also came up with the idea of “substitution” in acting, in which actors replace fictional events in a character’s life with real events from their own to draw out more authentic emotion.

“Respect for Acting” outlines Hagen’s teachings in her own words and is still widely endorsed over 40 years after its publication.

5. “In-Depth Acting” By Dee Cannon

Acclaimed acting coach Dee Cannon’s book is a practical guide to Stanislavski’s system. The Stanislavski method of acting helps actors develop their characters in stages. There are seven questions an actor should ask themselves when constructing their character’s persona:

Who am I?
Where am I?
When is it?
What do I want?
Why do I want it?
How will I get it?
What do I need to overcome?

6. “An Actor Prepares” By Constantin Stanislavski

While Cannon’s book offers an explanation of the Stanislavski method from a contemporary coach’s perspective, “An Actor Prepares” is written by Stanislavski himself. The book examines the internal evaluation and preparation the author believes an actor should undergo in preparation of any role.

“An Actor Prepares” is Stanislavski’s first book and one of the most famous acting books in print.

7. “Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus” By Marina Caldarone

Scripts can be daunting for many actors. The lines aren’t just words on a page but your character’s voice. All of their actions are embedded in their speech, so as an actor, learning how to evaluate dialogue, draw actions from a script and implement them into your performance is crucial to success.

Caldarone’s book offers lists of verbs and their synonyms that actors can use when making notes on their scripts.

Improve Your Acting By Reading

Books can make you a better actor. Everyone learns differently, and sometimes, taking our eyes off the screen and shifting them onto the page can put things into a better perspective and help us grow.

What are some of your favorite acting books?

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

5 Tips For Parents Helping Their Child Pursue An Acting Career

5 Tips For Parents Helping Their Child Pursue An Acting Career

Being the parent of a child attempting to pursue a career in acting can be stressful and fraught with worry. The business can be cutthroat, and as a parent you want the best for your child at all times. Parents of child actors are often times juggling many different responsibilities and once, trying to stay on top of work, family and the child’s progress as an actor.

It can easily become overwhelming or discouraging. However, the following five tips can help take some of the stress out of parenting a child actor and lead to a healthier, happier and more successful family.

Protect Your Child

Take steps to make sure your child is always in a safe situation and that your family isn’t exposed to risk.

Some safety tips include never posting your home address when responding to any online casting boards, making sure that any acting-related professionals interacting with your child have a Child Performer Services Permit, and remaining within constant sight and/or sound of your child while you’re on a set.

Never Get Too Wrapped Up In Events Beyond Your Control

The acting world is tough, and there’s much you wish you could control but won’t be able to. Any given audition or role may or may not go your way. Learn to move on to the next one regardless of your conviction that your child might have been perfect. Luck plays a big part in the world of acting, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

Monitor The Rest of Your Family

It can be easy to focus primarily on your child pursuing the acting career, but don’t forget the rest of your family. If you have a significant other, check in with them at regular intervals to make sure that they’re feeling good with your decisions regarding your child’s acting career.

Also, make an extra special effort to connect with any other siblings. It can be easy for them to have feelings of inadequacy or neglect when comparing themselves to their child actor sibling.

Keep A Grip On Your Finances

Far too often, parents of child actors invest too much of their money into pursuing the dream, leading to major financial problems and strain in the family. Right at the onset, set realistic limits for spending on pursuing your child’s acting career, and never break those limits.

Support Your Child Emotionally

The process of auditioning for and either getting or not getting a part can be a strongly emotional experience, and this can especially affect a child. During good times and bad, make an effort to be a rock for your child to lean on.

When your child fails to receive a part, channel any feelings of personal unhappiness or anger and give your child needed perspective. And the same goes for when your child does get a part – keep an even keel to teach your child that true happiness exists outside of the validation coming from outside sources.

Logan Sekulow is a renowned producer and director.

5 Directing Tips for Actors

5 Directing Tips for Actors

Though they love performing, plenty of actors dream about getting a chance to call the shots. The idea of directing appeals to actors who want to use their talents to guide and inspire either. Having the motivation to direct isn’t enough, however. You need to understand what it takes to be a quality director. Here are five directing tips for actors.

Learn To Lead

On a set, directors can be considered leaders. While collaboration is a must for a production to run smoothly, there needs to be proper delegation. As a director, you need to know how to guide your team. Make a clear outline of things like the schedule and other requirements for the production. Explain to your cast and crew the importance of each element. There will be more confidence in the production if you show you can be a valuable captain.

Be Polite

Directors need to display authority, but they also need to demonstrate humility. Nobody is a fan of the director who is constantly barking orders, and doing so will only spoil your relationships. You should be firm but also respectful. If someone does something well, they should be complimented. If they’re doing something poorly, they should be corrected but not reprimanded. You want your set to be an environment in which people feel encouraged, not discouraged.

Be Clear About Your Goals

Your cast can have trouble if you aren’t being specific. As an actor, you’ve been guided by the strength of your director. Now, it’s your turn to do the same. Let your cast know exactly what you want from them. Don’t close yourself off to suggestions from them, but do give them something to work with early on. The best directors are ones who understand the importance of a vision.

Communicate With Your Cast

If a cast member is having trouble with a certain part or scene, learn to better understand their frustration. Sit down with each of them and discuss what kinds of issues they’ve been having. You’ll hopefully better understand through these one-on-one chats. This is your opportunity to be a mentor for your cast. They’ll realize how much potential is inside them, and you’ll realize how much you have to offer as a teacher.

Observe Other Directors

Observation is at the heart of learning any skill. You might like to think of yourself as a complete self-starter. However, we all need a bit of help to become great. Before you start directing, watch others direct. Notice how they command a set and gain respect through their professionalism. Do your best to emulate this.

By taking these directing tips to heart, you can make the experience so much better for your cast and crew. It can take some time to get used to, but just like with acting, you’ll improve with practice. Have faith in your abilities and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You have too much creativity to let any of it go to waste.

Logan Sekulow is a producer and director who’s known for relaunching Laugh-O-Gram studios.