As you all know, we’ve been living through unprecedented times these last 10 months as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and skyrocketing case numbers in Los Angeles and beyond. The vaccine is finally (slowly) being rolled out, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve had a lot of time on my hands while in lockdown. But I’ve been truly inspired to see how actors have been using this moment to learn new skills and brush up on some old ones.
When film and TV production stopped in mid-March, for instance, I took on several new clients who had never acted before who wanted to “dip their toe in” to see if it was for them. I’ve never coached people who had literally no experience, and no one was more surprised than me that it felt incredibly rewarding. You, too, can start doing something that you said you’d never do. I promise it’ll open up your heart. Here are a few ways to spark your creativity.
Now is the time of the self-tape. Since production has slowly started picking back up, auditions are definitely happening digitally; but as a casting director, the last thing I want you to do is put yourself in harm’s way by going into a studio to get a professionally produced self-tape. We are now very happy to view your self-tapes that are recorded on Zoom or any other online video platform. As long as it’s lit well with good sound (and, hopefully, a good reader), we’re good. One strategy that I’ve found successful is to put your reader on Zoom and have your real camera (or phone) running simultaneously to record your audition. Use the Zoom recording as a backup.
You can also take acting classes from masters around the world. Every acting teacher I know has pivoted to teaching their classes online, and that means you can learn from pros you’ve always wanted to study with, no matter where you are. It’s still important to audit these classes to find the right teacher for you, and you want them to be small (no more than 15 students) so that you’ll have the chance to get up and work on a scene each week.
In your downtime, don’t be afraid to binge that hot new series. As you may have noticed, 2020 was a great year for television. Do your research on which shows to watch, and you’ll find performances that you can study over and over.
But be a bookworm in addition to a couch potato! It still blows my mind that many actors haven’t read the world’s most important acting books. Now is the time to do a deep dive and learn from some of the greats.
Aside from acting, this is also a prime time to explore other creative passions. A friend of mine learned how to play the guitar so well that he’s now writing songs. I got back into playing the piano. We’ve all seen our friends and neighbors making homemade bread. All of these pursuits will enhance your life as an actor. You’ve got to have a rich and colorful life with new experiences to draw from.
Keep these things in mind, and when we come out of this pandemic, we’ll be more talented and have some new tricks up our sleeves!
This story originally appeared in the Jan. 14 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.
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