Don’t Sweat the Technique: Great Acting Is About Much More

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I love what I do, but I will be the first one to tell you I have the strangest career in the world: I teach people how to do what they do naturally on a daily basis. I coach them on how to act. I coach them on how to be. I coach them on how to human. (That isn’t a typo—it’s like adulting.)

I realize actors have been sold on certain techniques that they swear by for success. And the truth is they work...they all work.

But acting techniques are like diets and methods to quit smoking. If applied and practiced, you will reach your goal. But you’re reaching that goal because you want to reach it, not because any one technique is better or more effective than another.

There isn’t a wrong way of how to be or become. Every way you are is right in that moment, in your craft, in life. How you get to any one place, thought, or emotion is insignificant; getting there is the goal. You are already great at being human. You are flawed but perfect, ignorant but learning, dying but living. You are all these things without thinking of how to be or become them, so the secret is to move subconsciously in your craft and characters.

READ: How to Choose an Acting Technique

The challenge is learning how to consciously move subconsciously in your craft. I know what you’re thinking: If I learn to do that my brain would implode, my heart would explode, and I would shift into a different universe. You are right: all those things would happen and the universe you would be living in would be that of your character.

I can find hundreds of actors who would swear by any and every technique. But at the end of the day, the result is the same. They move you with their believability and character, not their technique. It’s because they do whatever they have to do (that works for them) to bring their character to life.

In the end, all the answers lie deep within you. There is no external fix. It’s an internal drive that moves you to be. You—not the technique—are the answer. Make the choice and commit to your character.

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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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Dorian Santiago
Dorian Santiago is an award-winning filmmaker, director, and acting coach. He is the owner of Class Act Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed acting book “Get Your ACT Together – Living an Oscar-Worthy Life.”
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