The 1 Piece of Advice Every Actor Must Hear

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When I sit in on castings, I watch actors come in one after the other, after the other, all trying to be what they think theyre supposed to be. I watch amazing, talented actors push away or hide the things that make them unique and special. It just kills me.

And then in walks an actor, no excuses, no apologies, just a raw confidence in who they are and what special attributes they’re bringing to the table, and everyone in the room exhales a sigh of relief. Finally. Someone who is real. Someone not trying to be what they think they’re supposed to be or trying to be what they want to be or trying to be something someone has told them they should be. A real person owning everything about themselves: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It’s usually those “ugly” parts or aspects of our personalities we don’t think are good enough, that might be thought of as negative, that aren’t as bold and bright as we think an actor is supposed to be, that separates us from every other actor at that audition. Aspects that color us as full, layered, real human beings, the things that directors seek out and look for in an actor.

An actor who can accept and more importantly own every aspect of their being is an actor who can display the confidence that commands attention and who will be remembered after they walk out of the room. They might not be exactly right for the part they’re reading for at that moment but you can be sure the casting director, director, agent, producer, client, or whoever was in that room is going to remember that actor and their various layers in a positive light.

The actors who were trying to be what they thought they were supposed to be? Let’s just say they’ll be as memorable as their one-dimensional, generic performances.

So that bit of advice that every actor must hear...YOU ARE ENOUGH. That’s it. Each and every one of you is unique and special and incredible and powerful and memorable and castable and marketable. You don’t have to be anything other than yourself. Don’t try to fit yourself into a role—fit the role onto you. Make it work for all your colors and layers, embracing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It is in owning everything about yourself and being brave enough to expose it that will separate you from all the other actors out there. Once you can trust that you are enough and are able to bring your true self to each role...that’s when magic happens and careers are made.

From this moment on, I give all of you permission to just be you. That’s all you have to do. Trust that you are enough. Own it. Believe it. Bring it to every photo shoot, every meeting, every audition, every rehearsal, every day you are lucky enough to work.

Right now, look into a mirror or your phone or your reflection in your computer screen and tell yourself: I am enough. I don’t have to try to be anything other than who I am. And right before your next meeting or audition remind yourself of that. Don’t try to be what you think they want, show them what they need—you!

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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.

Author Headshot
Tom Burke
Tom Burke is an image consultant, headshot coach, and acting teacher. After transitioning from a successful print model to an accomplished on-camera actor to a proficient on-set acting coach, Burke focused his wealth of knowledge and keen eye to become one of L.A.’s premier image consultants and headshot coaches, and creator of the Castable Actor, a series of workshops, seminars, and advice designed to help actors open doors to a successful career.
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