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Backstage Experts

Don't Try So Hard To Act. Just Be.

Don't Try So Hard To Act. Just Be.

When you are at your best as an actor—whether it be in an audition or performance—what are you actually doing? If you’re doing it well, you’re showing up, listening, and responding. That’s it.

In other words, you’re simply being.

However in an audition, it takes thorough and specific preparation in order to let go and just be in the room. The truth of the matter is that you can’t let go of what you don’t have. You need to prepare in a way that enables you to feel strong and connected to yourself as well as connected to the role mentally, emotionally and physically. You need to feel that you “have” the role inside of you. If you’ve done that, you don’t have to do more than show up, let go, and be.

Michael Jordan used to say that playing basketball was 99 percent training and one percent being on time for the game. When he played, he was free from thinking and second guessing and could rely on his training to carry him through all of the demands of the actual game. This is true of all great athletes.

It’s true for actors as well. You’d never think of doing a play without rehearsing, or showing up on a set without being familiar with the script and working out the inner life of your character. So how is it okay to go to an audition without having done the work that allows you to find who you are in the role and gives you the freedom to relax, connect, and be?

Working without a net in an audition is inviting disaster. If you’re just winging it in an effort to be free, you’re actually putting yourself in a prison of uncertainty. You won’t have the guts to take the job getting risks, to jump, because you know there’s no net.

Instead you’ll start “doing” by indicating all in an effort to convince yourself and those in the room that you’re in control. Well, they don’t want to see your effort, they want to see the result of your effort. It’s not "doing" that will get you the job.

Good preparation doesn’t strangle or inhibit you. It does just the opposite. It allows you to be fully present without doubt or fear. You are working from a solid base so you can take risks, and you can jump knowing that your preparation has created a net that will support you and catch you. You have the confidence and the strength to just be and it’s being that will get you the job.

You need to do the work of acting in order to feel the joy of acting. In fact, the joy that you feel when you’re connected and free in you’re acting is in direct proportion to the work you have put in. This means that you need to put in effort before the audition in order to be effortless in the audition. Brilliance isn’t a happy accident; it’s the joyful manifestation of a lot of hard work.

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

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

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