The ABC’s of Acting

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First, let me address something I’ve wanted to voice for a while. I often write articles and do training videos with titles like “3 Quick Tips for…” I would like to take a moment to make sure that no one who reads these articles is under the impression that these tips are meant to replace the deep, hard work of honing a craft. I am a Juilliard graduate and a classically trained actor. I believe that you should study and work hard to become your best.

I don’t get to torture most of you in person. But I have the honor of getting a few short moments with you here. Sometimes a moment can make a huge difference. These little tips can work as stepping stones. They are mini lessons to move you forward. But if a lesson in a box can unblock you, that’s a good thing. I hope they can help you to have experiences that can set you free and move you forward.

Sometimes, these tips may seem simplistic. But I can often get a student to find the courage to let go with simple laughter. Or I can push a quick button to move you past your fears. These buttons do not replace all of your other powerful techniques, but they are steps to help and can trigger deep, organic awakenings. I hope they will open doors you didn’t know were there. I hope they encourage you to want to learn more!

None of these quick tips can take the place of hard work! I never mean these buttons to supplant the techniques of in-depth character study, scene breakdown, imagination, speech, and voice training. But they can help you to get better. And you should always be getting better. Some of you are just beginning. Some can’t afford a class right now. Some are working actors and are always eager to continue to discover new ways to create. Learn from everything: books and articles, videos, in-person or online classes, performance, or life experiences. Try anything that will help you to find the courage to step into your own light. Open your minds and hearts.

The ABC’s of Acting

Aspiration. Why do you do this? Where is your passion? What drives you forward to constantly be better? Something inspired you to do this and it needs to be strong enough to get you through the long days, hard work, rejection, and turbulence of an acting career. The fun days are easy. But what about those tough ones?

When I was a teenager, I asked one of my great mentors for advice on becoming a professional actor. He looked me in the eyes and said, “If there is anything else in this world that you can do and be happy, do it.” Then abruptly turned around and walked out. He meant that I need to be truly inspired and driven by the passion deep in my heart or I would not be able to stand up to the tough days. He was right. I pass these pearls of wisdom onto you!

Find your passion!

Belief. Believe in yourself and your dream with all of your heart. Believe that you will land that audition every time. Believe the fantasy world of your character. Believe the next moment will be better. Believe in finding a new path when the old one dead ends. Believe. Have faith.

Never give up!

Commitment. Whoever works hardest and shows up the most wins! The people who succeed don’t have it the easiest. They just get up more often from failure than others. What makes luck? Training hard to be ready if you get a break. Showing up more so that you have more chances. Keeping your eyes open in case there is a crack in the door. Having the courage to go through the door if you find that crack.

There is no quick pill to make you into a great actor. Really hone your craft. Train harder. Care more. Get better. Find good classes, a great mentor, and a positive support group. Surround yourself with creative, generous, inspirational people. Be one of those kind of people for others.

Keep moving forward!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Cathryn Hartt
Cathryn Hartt, founder of Hartt & Soul Acting Studio, is known to many as “the UN-Acting Coach.” She coaches all ages (children through adult) and all levels (from beginning through masters).
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