All too often, actors focus on the obvious things for their acting. Yes, studying the craft, industry news, watching movies, improv, etc., are all very important. But things that generally enrich you as a person overall can dramatically affect your acting too, giving you a wider view of the world and more to draw on for your characters.
Here are a few things I’ve found can help you to not only deepen your view of life, but also give you substantially more to work with when it comes to acting.
Life is the greatest education. As an artist, life is your work! Your work is to live life to the fullest extent, experience it, take it all in, assemble and categorize it, interpret it however you wish, and in turn convey it through your art.
Spend time with people and utilize that time wisely. Listen to them, observe them, make it a point to try and understand their points of view. You will see how much you have in common with them, which is where the magic lives. Understanding other people will expand your arsenal to create the depth of characters from. Understanding life and the people in it will support how you choose to embody a character in the world the writer and director have created for you.
Traveling opens the door to new worlds. Hearing languages, exploring cultural differences, gaining independence, obtaining social skills, acquiring compassion for others, and most importantly, learning about yourself in comparison or contrast. The world is your classroom. Step out of your town, your city, your country. There’s an infinity of information you can expose yourself to. Your interpretation and the experiences will enhance the colors of your work. Engulf yourself in the environment, talk to the locals, listen to their music, experience their food and culture. Your tools and craft will increase dramatically, no pun intended.
Do you ever go to the Getty and feel inspired afterward? Art has a huge value in our culture and society. It opens your mind, prompts you to see things you might not otherwise see, think in ways you might not typically think. Don’t underestimate the power of an afternoon at a museum. Education should be more than career prep for your next job. It should add to and enrich your life.
The 10,000-hour rule famously tells us that 10,000 hours of practice in any field will make one a world-class expert in that discipline. The education you receive from doing the work itself is immeasurable. How many hours do you have so far? How many do you need to hit this goal, then exceed it? Get out and work. Put in the hours, regardless of the job. The on-set experience will teach you more than anything you can learn from studying.
If you haven’t already, start viewing every moment of your life as a lesson right now. Never take anything for granted. Whether life in general or on the set, be a sponge and soak it up as much as you can.
*This post was originally published on May 12, 2017. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.