You’ve finally landed an acting gig after months or even years of auditioning. But what do you do now? The work doesn’t stop once you’ve booked the role. In fact, that’s when the real work begins.
Now, I don’t mean to be a downer, but just because you booked a nice chunk of a role doesn’t mean you’re at the next level in your career. You need to maintain your newly acquired status with the same momentum as before, if not more. Competition is tough in the real world, so don’t let this get to your head.
All right! Let’s kick this into gear! Here are the things to keep in mind as you prepare for your big debut:
Take a moment to celebrate your achievement. This is a big deal and you should be proud of yourself!
But in a world where everyone is trying to achieve their dreams, it’s hard to feel supported sometimes. When your loved ones don’t share in your excitement or see the value in what you’re doing, it can be difficult to stay motivated. I encourage you to find other people who do support you. If your family and friends don’t understand your passion for acting, seek out others who do. There are plenty of online communities and forums full of people who are living the same dream as you. Connecting with them will help you feel appreciated.
Research the Character You Will Be Playing
The better you understand your character, the more believable you’ll be on screen. You want to create a three-dimensional, creditable character that audiences will love…or hate.
- When it comes to acting out a character who is a real person, it’s important to remember that you’re not the person—you’re playing a role. This means that you should study the person you’re portraying and make sure you understand their mannerisms, their speech patterns and their overall persona.
It’s also essential to be respectful when portraying a real person. This means avoiding any sort of caricature or mockery of the individual. Instead, aim to create a portrayal that captures the essence of who they are.
If you find yourself struggling, take a moment to breathe and refocus on why you took on this role in the first place. Sometimes an expert on that person can be brought in to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask the production if that’s a possibility, should you need it. (I wouldn’t expect a “yes,” so when asking, just keep that in mind.)
- If the character is not a real person, you’ll want to have an understanding of the time period in which the story takes place as well as any relevant cultural context. You should also get inside the head of the character and understand their motivations.
Once you’ve done the necessary research, you can begin to work on developing the physicality of the character. This includes things like posture, vocal tonality, and facial expressions. It’s also important for you to find ways to connect with the character on an emotional level.
Create a Backstory for Your Character
This backstory will help you to understand your character and how they would react in different situations.
Creating a backstory can be done by brainstorming key events in your character’s life. What was their childhood like? What major events have shaped who they are today? Once you have a general idea of your character’s history, you can start to fill in the details. What kind of music do they like? What’s their favorite food? By fleshing out your character’s likes and dislikes, you’ll be able to better understand them as a person.
Work on Your Dialogue Delivery
To master dialogue delivery, you need to do more than just memorize the lines. You need to understand the subtext of what your character is saying and find ways to connect with your scene partners.
- Read the script aloud several times before you start memorizing your lines. This will help you get a feel for the rhythm and flow of the dialogue.
- Once you start memorizing your lines, don’t just recite them like a robot. Instead, try to imagine what your character is thinking and feeling in each moment. This will help you add emotion and intention to your delivery.
- In addition to memorizing your own lines, pay attention to what your scene partners are saying.
Side note, as I have a lot to say on this topic…
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and felt like you were the only person talking? Maybe you were the only person interested in the topic, or maybe the other person was just too busy thinking about what they were going to say next to actually listen to you. Either way, it’s not a great feeling.
Now imagine you’re in a scene with another actor. You’re both trying to construct a believable connection between your characters. But if you’re not paying attention to what your scene partner is saying, it’s going to be pretty difficult to do that.
Rehearse With Other Actors
When preparing for a role, I highly suggest you rehearse with other actors. This allows you to get a feel for the flow of the scene and how your character interacts with others. It also helps to build rapport with your fellow actors, which can make performances more believable.
If you’re new to acting, or if you’re simply feeling rusty, practicing with other actors can help you regain confidence in your abilities. Seeing yourself act in scenes alongside other people can also give you a better sense of how you come across on stage or screen. Even experienced actors can benefit from rehearsing with new partners; it keeps them on their toes and prevents them from becoming too comfortable in their craft.
You don’t necessarily have to practice with your co-workers—you can ask other people to run scenes with you. I find this approach refreshing because you may interact differently with someone else and perhaps bring more to the scene.
Take advantage of any opportunity you can to learn more about the industry and what it takes to be a successful actor. Whether it’s shadowing another actor on set or attending workshops and seminars, soak up as much knowledge as you can.
Start networking with the other people involved in the production. Get to know your fellow actors, the director, producers, and anyone else who will be working on the project with you. The more relationships you develop, the better chance you have of making a lasting impression in your role.
Enjoy the Ride
Your phone has been ringing off the hook with offers for new roles. You feel like you’re on top of the world!
- Take some time to savor your success and enjoy all the good things that come with it. From the red carpets to the awards ceremonies, soak it all in and have fun!
- Don’t let it go to your head. It’s important to stay humble and grounded, no matter how successful you become. Remember that this is just a role you’re playing and it’s not who you are as a person.
- Be thankful. Always remember to be grateful for what you have, even when things are going great.
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Ilana Rapp is a media-savvy Generation Xer with instinctive wit, quick humor and a taste for deep human emotions. As a former (child) actress with Broadway, film and television credits, she is adept at, well, lots of things. She is a huge fan of the television show V. Ask her why her favorite number is 22. Follow Ilana on Twitter @IlanaSpeaks22.