“What makes you a good actor?”
This question was asked of me in a workshop a few weeks ago. It was a question designed, not to criticize or belittle, but to make me think. What is it, truly, that makes me good? Everyone in the room offered their own answer, and later, also voiced what they saw in me. It was a really nurturing evening, and I left feeling, like I often do, inspired, motivated, and encouraged.
In this industry, we face rejection all the time. And it can be really discouraging when you’re auditioning over and over again, and not getting a single “Yes.” But you keep trying. You practice, you go to class, you keep putting yourself out there, because the opportunities are not going to fall in your lap; you have to go out and find them.
So what happens when you’ve been seeking opportunities, and auditioning, and doing everything you can, but you’re still experiencing weeks or months of rejection, and Imposter Syndrome starts to creep in? Ask yourself: What makes you good?
Last night, I was able to attend another workshop, and work on a different piece: Lady Anne from Richard III. (Sidebar – The Shakespeare Forum is really great, y’all. If you haven’t been there, go. ASAP.) The facilitator, Tyler, asked me, “Why this piece? What does this piece give you?” I struggled to answer the question. I wanted to say, “I like it. Can’t I just like it? Do I have to have a reason?” Instead, I launched into a brief summary of the plot and given circumstances. We worked on it a bit more, and another facilitator, Adam, told me that the idea of “I get it. I understand this monologue,” is enough. What I could have said to Tyler is, “This monologue gives me connection. I understand this character, and I want to share her story.”
I have the gift of empathy — I’m like Deanna Troi!
What makes me a good actor? Empathy. I can read a script, and empathize with the characters. I also take direction well, and am willing to play and try things to see what works and what doesn’t. I work hard, have fun, and am committed to the material. But most of all, I have empathy. I read a script, and I get it. So when I’m feeling discouraged, I can remember what makes me good at what I do, and trust that, eventually, someone will say, “I want her for this role.”
What about you? What makes you good at what YOU do?