Is Your Light On?

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Let me ask you a question: Is your light on?

Oh, I know what you’re saying: “Yeah, Cathryn...unfortunately your light’s on but no one’s home!”

Ha! Smartypants! I’m not talking about that kind of turning your light on. I am talking about the light you turn on as a performer that is your magic and makes people say, “Who’s that?”

I’m talking about the magic that you must ignite from the depths of your very soul every time you walk onto a stage, do a closeup, sell a song, walk the red carpet, or enter an audition room. It is called charisma by some.

Here is an example that might help you to understand. It’s the same energy you exude at a party when you want to make that cute guy or gal across the room notice you. It’s that light that comes on when you feel a rush of joy or you’re having fun or you’re falling in love. Some little magical fairy dust sprinkles around the room when that light is turned on and causes the whole room to light up with you. When you audition or perform, it’s really important that your light is turned on.

It’s especially important when you’re doing a commercial audition, comedy, voiceover, hosting, slating, singing, dancing, or anything on stage. There are a lot of buttons I try to push as an acting coach to get timing, spontaneous reactions, connection, and creativity in my clients. I can easily push all of those other buttons by just getting you to turn your light on and have fun.

Turning your light on comes from passion, loving what you do, connecting to others, and having fun. Some of you already do it naturally because you just have passion in your soul and you love every moment of life.

Of course, some roles call for depression and sadness and struggle or very low energy and underplaying. For those, just hold the light inside like in a pressure cooker and try not to let it out.

Today, I am addressing the times you need to light up the room. And, of course, you always want to be real, not fake. It is the sun as opposed to a light bulb. When you really light up from the inside, your eyes have a sparkle that nothing fake can match.

My two favorite tricks to get your light to turn on:

1. Run or jump around and get out of control. Especially for slates, commercials, comedy, stage, voiceover, or speaking directly to a camera, I just have you run around the room to get the blood flowing. We have an old saying in theater: “Always hit the stage running.” If you intend to light up an audience, you must first light yourself up. If you don’t really get your physical energy up, you will try to fake the fun and energy. That looks like you are pushing it and will be very unnatural.

After doing all of your actor homework—(backstory, scene breakdown, creating your reality, etc.)—it’s time to get your juices flowing and set yourself free to have fun. Getting physical will turn on your creativity and light your fire to get lost in the scene. At first, you may feel like you are out of control, but that’s not the case at all. You are in the zone!

2. Trick yourself into letting go with laughter. Sometimes in commercial auditions or hosting, I just make my client start laughing. Then I turn on the camera before they get themselves all perfect again. You can trip yourself up like that, too. Really have fun and then ride that spontaneous joy into the commercial or pitch. Also, comedic timing is easy when you get your energy up and just really have fun. It feels like you are playing a game.

You just need to have more fun and really enjoy yourself. Don’t be so uptight about being perfect. Let go! Once you let go and have fun, the magic light comes on. It is spontaneous, real and magnetic. It is what sets you apart when you walk into a room. It is what makes you special. Your light is like no one else’s. Trust it is your ticket to lighting up the world.

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

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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