If I’m telling the truth, I didn’t understand the true art of acting until I booked my tenth job. Admitting this is kind of shocking, especially because when I look back at the work I was doing before that, I am extremely proud of it and myself.
But despite being happy with my work (and getting work to begin with), deep down, I knew there was more to it. As an actor, it’s always been about learning and improving. The moment you attempt to become a guru is the moment you set yourself up for failure, which is why my goal has always been to perfect the experience I’ve received and teach it to other actors.
Back then, I was living on the west side of Los Angeles, near the ocean, and was looking for a new acting class to attend. I didn’t mind driving if the class was right for me—it was just part of living in L.A. I found a studio that offered free audits in North Hollywood, about 25 miles away, but on the day of the class, my GPS told me it would take almost two-and-a-half hours to get there in rush hour traffic. Yikes!
But I got into my car and started the trip because I had an objective: to get to class. At one point, the GPS suggested an alternate, faster route so I took it. Almost an hour went by and it didn't seem like I was getting any closer to the studio (an obstacle if I’ve ever seen one). At this point, it was pretty clear I would be late, missing the start of class, but I still had an objective in mind and that gave me hope. Acting was (is!) my passion and I was prepared to deal with anything to succeed.
Nearly three hours later, I finally reached the class...but it was closed. Completely exhausted, I walked back to my car asking myself what the purpose of all this had been. But a voice immediately popped into my head, saying, “phenomenal acting is about the dance between objective and obstacle.” The voice was right! And I couldn’t wait to implement what I had learned.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you’re going to crush every scene you perform in.
An objective is the goal you are working to attain, that you will do absolutely anything to get. It drives your actions and keeps you moving forward. In my story, the objective was getting to class and not even seven million cars were going to stop me from getting there and doing what love—acting.
Acting is all about recreating life. In life, we have goals we hold close to our hearts and do everything possible to accomplish them. It’s no different than on set or in the auditioning room. Once you get your sides, find your character’s objective and be relentless in making it your own. Sometimes, you will be able to find multiple objectives. Use it to your advantage.
Your objective has to become one of your life goals in order to create believability in your performance. If you’re going to blow away the people with power...it’s that serious. However long it takes, discover or create a powerful character objective.
Have you ever watched a movie or television show where you can tell the actor is dealing with something internally? This is in direct correlation to the obstacles they face. They’ve already established their objective and now they’re fighting against the obstacles opposing the objective. Once again, acting is just the recreation of life. You have to have bad to enjoy the good and you have to have adversity to enjoy the triumphs. One without the other will create the most boring performance ever. I definitely don’t want that for you. Take your script, look at your scene in detail, and find your obstacles. The more the better because it will create a thorough inner life for your character. Your acting will literally jump off the screen and into people’s hearts. This is one of the most effective concepts I’ve taught and it can take the worst actor or actress and turn them into a great one.
Once again, acting is just the recreation of life. You have to have bad to enjoy the good and you have to have adversity to enjoy the triumphs. One without the other will create the most boring performance ever. Take your script, look at your scene in detail, and find your obstacles. The more the better—the process will create a thorough inner life for your character. Your acting will jump off the screen and into people’s hearts.
Your power as a performer comes when you can navigate the dance between the objectives and the obstacles. A practical step to get really efficient at this is to grab the scripts you have at your disposal and pick out the objectives and obstacles in as many scenes as possible. Use your imagination if it’s not clearly given to you, but definitely work at it. The more you do it, the better you will become at implementing it in your acting. I will leave you with this: It’s the acting that looks the most like real life that will not only help an actor succeed, but have a long fulfilling career. Learn these two concepts like your own name and you will crush every scene you are part of.
Shaun Grant is a dynamic “entreperformer” that is a recognized authority in personal performance and transformation. He is the author of “Prosperity Secrets: How To Live the Life of Your Dreams.” He is also the creator of The Vibrational Actor and hosts his own podcast called The Actor's Area. Shaun has been acting, writing, and coaching for the past ten years. He teaches the concept of vibrational acting and vibrational consciousness to performers around the world. His soul purpose is to inspire, uplift and motivate actors through cutting edge mental and spiritual practices. He's at his happiest when his students experience successful breakthroughs in mind, body, and spirit as it relates to their acting careers. Shaun has acted in over forty projects, working alongside some of Hollywood's brightest stars, and has written and produced his own projects as well. When Shaun isn't acting, writing or coaching, he enjoys engaging in his love of travel and creating life-changing content through his blogs. Visit www.shaungrantacting.com and www.uplifterentertainment.com for more career information. Find Shaun on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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