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The Craft

Personality is Half the Audition Battle

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Personality is Half the Audition Battle
This pilot season, 17 of my clients booked roles in major network and film projects. There's no mystery as to why. The secret to booking a role begins and ends with this: Don't try to guess what "they" are looking for. Assume you are what they're looking for and bring yourself to the role! Your secret weapon as an actor is your unique personality.

Bringing your personality to the role starts with realizing that you are interesting enough without having to add anything (technique, character, etc.). If you have prepared and coached the role responsibly, the work should be planted deep inside you without you having to "show it" when acting. You can never "act" your preparation. Any worthwhile preparation should only strengthen and elevate your performance, not take the place of or protect you from it.

Dealing with oneself can be terrifying. Many acting "techniques" feed off an actor's need to escape from himself into something warm and fuzzy, essentially doing everything but the work at hand. What inevitably happens is the work starts to smell like acting technique and loses the actor's humanity.

The personality of the actor is nine-tenths of the performance. I help my clients reflect their own humanity back at their audience, not by playing themselves but by bringing themselves to the role. It's "you" at your best, under the influence of and filled up with deeper, more powerful, and more fun emotions. This creates the illusion of character. The higher art is not to ask, "How should I play the role?" but rather, "What would I do if I were in that specific situation?"

The difference between "good" and "great" is very small. Beginning your audition emotionally full of something specific instantly sets you apart from every other actor starting with nothing, having to warm up as they go. You can't force yourself to feel that emotion or squeeze yourself into some emotional place -- it must be activated in a flash as if on the tips of your fingers, ready to go seconds after your slate or call of "Action!" on set.

Don't let anyone try to steal your talent and sell it back to you in the form of some stale technique or method. Fight like hell to bring your unique and original self to everything you do.

Named one of Back Stage readers' favorite teachers, Joseph Pearlman coaches the industry's top talent. His clients include Zooey Deschanel, Skylar Grey, Sherri Shepherd, Julian Sands, and Michael Welch. Pearlman also coaches presenters for the Oscars, Grammys, Golden Globes, and Emmys. Visit his website at www.josephpearlman.com.

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