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How Actors Really Get Into Character

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How Actors Really Get Into Character

The journalist and sociology researcher, Malcolm Gladwell, does a lot of interesting stuff. His best-selling books explore cultural phenomena, the science behind social shifts, and how our environment shapes and influences us in innumerable ways.

He also might be the best acting coach anywhere.

This is because his work illustrates the mechanics and science of human nature and its implications to acting are staggering.

Case in point. Without discussing “character” from an acting standpoint, he gives us the best acting lesson about what “character” really is from a sociological, scientific perspective.

Basically, his research shows that it’s you. And “you” are forged from different circumstances. Period. That’s what creates different “you’s.”

Hot coffee is spilled on you at Starbucks. A different you is triggered.

You ask your partner to marry you. She declines. A different you is triggered.

A stranger asks you for directions. A different you is triggered.

From his book "The Tipping Point":

“Character, then, isn’t what we think it is or, rather, what we want it to be. It isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits, and it only seems that way because of a glitch in the way our brains are organized. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstance and context. The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment.”

So just like in life, circumstances and context evoke the many-sided characters out of us. Sometimes we like them, sometimes we don’t. If we can learn how to judge them less, we can access them more and become everything we want in our work: fearless, vulnerable, expressed, and transformative. Just like we aspire to in life.

Everything comes from the inside out. Not the other way around. But for sure, the outside triggers our insides.

Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and Artistic Director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) in Los Angeles, where it was voted the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles by Backstage in 2011 and 2012 (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read). AMAW is also located in New York and Australia.

Meindl's first feature film, “Birds of a Feather,” won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2012 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and he won Best Director at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Love, Backstage, and various spirituality podcasts. He has been featured in ABC News, Daily Variety, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and the CW KTLA. He is also the author of the new best-selling book, “At Left Brain Turn Right,” which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Check out Meindl's free smartphone app on iTunes. 'Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.

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