A while back someone said something to me in passing about acting that I really took to heart. He said, “If you don’t do it every day, it’s a hobby.” This can certainly relate to a number of activities, but the idea is if you’re not working at being an actor every day then you’re not really being an actor.
It’s easy to fall into some bad habits in the acting business. We wait by the phone, we scour the breakdowns online, we research new headshot photographers and we even manage to get in front of some CD’s from time to time. The hard part is, while you’re waiting and researching, you’re not perfecting your craft. We need to remember to continue to learn and grow as actors even when no one is forcing us to.
An acting coach once mentioned to me that if you wait until the day of the audition to work on camera, then you’re already too late. As an actor, you should be putting yourself on camera every single day to see exactly what you’re working with. After all, the product you’re selling is you and the only way to do that is to know the product.
I’ve learned so much about myself as an actor by watching videos of myself doing cold readings. For instance, I blink more on camera than any human should need to blink ever in any circumstance. After seeing this, I can now make a conscious effort to control the nervous tick and focus more on my scene partner. I never knew I did that until I saw it with my own eyes. That means that for years people were probably watching tape of me going, “What the heck is wrong with this girl? Does she have a twitch? Can we get her some eye drops?”
The other benefit of putting yourself on camera is to get comfortable. You’ll be able to learn how much of your face is covered by your bangs when you look down or that when you turn a certain way you lose your neck. It helps to know what angles and stances make you look best on tape so you can put yourself in the best light for the people watching it.
What it really comes down to is this: always be working. There are thousands of people out here all trying to do the same thing. It’s easy to fall in with the crowd of aspiring actors who use their day off from their survival job to go to the beach or hang out with friends. Occasional down time is important, but there’s a difference between taking a break and being lazy. This business is all about the hustle and if you’re not going to get out there and work at it, I guarantee there’s someone right behind you who will.