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Ask an Actor: Acting When You're Under the Weather

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Ask an Actor: Acting When You're Under the Weather

Peppur Chambers

Los Angeles; Harlem's Night: A Cabaret Story, Sides

I'm in a cabaret that I produce and perform in, so there's no not performing and there's no understudy. I got that flu a few months ago, and it was horrible. I tried to use the power of The Secret: I'd say how healthy I was, even though I felt like crap. That helped, kinda. Whenever I feel that coming on I take at least six vitamin Cs, echinacea, and Throat Coat tea, and eat as many grapefruits as I can stand to make me think I'm getting better and help me keep going. After that, when I finally get some sleep, I pull the covers over my head and whine, "Ugggh. I'm siiiiick." Essentially, I toughen up and wait it out.

Jay Della Valle

New York; The Glorious Mustache Challenge, Salted Nuts

If you have an audition, you don't really have a second chance, and you may not be able to reschedule the audition just because you're sick. If I'm sick and I have an important audition, I just do my best. You usually have at least 24 hours before you have to audition, so you get enough rest and take whatever vitamins you need and just go in there and do the best work you can. At the same time, you could have strep throat, you could have a cold, you could be sick in so many different ways. If you have laryngitis, you can't do the audition. You will leave a bad impression if you insist upon working; no casting director wants to get what you have.

If you're really sick or you have an injury, you shouldn't work. You're not going to be at your best, you're not going to be able to stay in the moment, because your body's going to be preoccupied with the discomfort. I've been in a situation before where I pulled my neck out, and I looked very uncomfortable. I had to turn my whole body to look at someone. When I was studying with Maggie Flanigan years ago, I came in and she stopped me in the middle of a scene and said, 'What's wrong with you?' I said, 'I pulled my neck.' She said, 'You shouldn't be working right now.' At the time, I thought that no matter what happens, I'm a warrior, you can't hold me back. Even if I'm sick I'm still gonna get up and act. That seemed, to me at the time, to be the attitude. I eventually learned that it wasn't the right one to have.

Togba Norris

Los Angeles; Street Angel Diaries, Kissing Katie Holmes

For the most part, I try very hard to subscribe to the "mind over matter" school of thought: Basically, if you think you're sick, you will get sick, so don't think you're sick. Sometimes that works, and other times you fall into the "denial trap" [and get sick]. In that case, I try as much as I can to just rest and minimize stress when I have downtime. I sleep a great deal when not rehearsing, auditioning, hanging out with friends, or working my survival job. I drink quite a bit of water regularly anyway, but even more when I'm sick. Herbal tea that is noncaffeinated is a godsend. I opt for those as opposed to moisture-depleting caffeinated coffees or soda drinks when I feel the sniffles or the shakes coming on.

I use the tried-and-true remedy my mother used to use on my siblings and me when we were sick. The woman raised three kids with no health insurance and kept us all in relatively good condition. She'd heat up a glass of hot water; mix in lemon and/or lime juice, orange juice, honey, steeped herbal tea (preferably chamomile), ginger, and the secret ingredient, cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce; and give it to us to sip on. Believe me, if you drink a few glasses of that the day before your audition and throughout the day of your audition, you'll make it through your audition. After drinking that mixture, I'm usually better within two to three days instead of a week.

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