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How Keeping Positive Can Help Actors Grow

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How Keeping Positive Can Help Actors Grow

Going over your auditions immediately after they happen is a great way to learn and grow as an actor. It’s important to have a way of working that allows you to be specific and look step by step at what happened in the work and in the room. When doing this it’s also important to remember that it’s not just what didn’t work that needs your attention. To truly get yourself to the next level, you need to spend just as much time looking at and improving what went right.

It is in our DNA as a species to remember the negative aspects of an experience more than the positive. It’s an important survival instinct, and we all have it. If our ancestors hadn’t remembered that a saber tooth tiger was dangerous and went to pet it instead of run, we wouldn’t be here.

Survival as an artist though, requires an equally strong focus on the positive. How are you supposed to repeat and improve on what went right if all of your focus is on what went wrong? If what you want is to experience the confidence and freedom of the good moments again, you need to examine the causes and conditions that created them, and you need to do it with the intensity with which you would examine the causes and conditions of a less than satisfactory outcome.

It takes diligence to remember and learn from positive experiences, but if you don’t make the effort, the power of the more easily retained negative memories will take over and potentially color all of your experiences—including your next audition.

This is true in all parts of our lives. For instance, I was talking to a friend last week who has a rocky relationship with her boyfriend. She was recounting a fight they’d had in September. She described the incident in great detail, even remembering what she was wearing, that it was hot outside, and exactly what she said. However, when I asked her to describe a really good time they’d had all she could mange was “I don’t know, I guess we had a fun dinner the other night.”

I asked her what restaurant they went to and she couldn’t remember! The details of the fight were so much more compelling to her than the details of the nice dinner. Consequently, she is now seeing her relationship almost entirely through the lens of negativity. 

Her story resonated with me so strongly because I know that this is the negative (and sometimes downright adversarial) way many actors view themselves in the audition process. But, there is no benefit in losing yourself in your mistakes, and letting the ensuing negativity take over and run your creative life and future auditions.

You need to focus on what went wrong only for the amount of time it takes you to figure out what happened, and to fix it. 

Now move on to what went right. 

In your auditions, you look at what went right not just to pat yourself on the back, but to make it even better the next time. You’re not improving and growing unless every part of your process rises to a higher level. You need to have the skills to take the bad and make it good, then to take the good and make it great, and then to take the great and make it undeniable—because anything less than undeniable doesn’t get the job.

Brilliance takes more than damage control. It only comes from the consistent and diligent examination and elevation of every part of your process, from one audition to the next, for the entire duration of your career. Remembering what’s positive makes it a much sweeter journey.

Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of The Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent and casting consultant. In his 14 years of teaching, he has seen the careers of hundreds of his students take off. He is also the author of the best-selling book, “The Best of You – Winning Auditions Your Way.”

Craig is currently teaching his audition technique classes and his Meditation for Actors classes in Santa Monica, CA. For more information visit www.wallaceauditiontechnique.com.

You can follow Craig on Twitter @craigteach and like him on Facebook.

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