Diva Blog 6/1/18
Many of my beginning students will come in with wonderful natural vocal ability or intuitive acting skill and maybe have a few years of dance training under their belt. But they can’t seem to land the jobs they want. Unfortunately, they have been trying to compete with those who really know their craft. Amateurs don’t know what they don’t know. Natural talent only is not going to get you employed. There really is no such thing as being “discovered” and becoming an “overnight star.” The main reason for studying your craft is to level the playing field when you go up against the pros you hope to work with.
The amateurs who are hoping to break into the professional ranks has probably performed in community theatre, church and school with great success. They memorize their audition songs and perhaps a monologue, keep themselves limber through dance classes at the local studio and listen to all the cast albums of the latest musicals. They have their “headshots” which were done by a family member and a resume’ that is loaded with every appearance they have ever made in front of the public. They head out the door to grab that leading role in the first of many exciting paid gigs, soon to be the new star. And disappointment soon follows. Why? I’ve got a few ideas on that.
Let’s start with your song. Do you put a personal emotional investment in it? Do you have your own personal truth that comes through the lyrics? A fantastic voice is nothing if all you’ve done is memorize words and notes. If you can’t tell your own story with your unique point of view and past experience and how you feel about it, you are wasting the production team’s time. They want to know who you are! Because you are there, they know you can probably sing but can you reveal your true self along with your great voice?
As you prepare your audition like a pro, remember, no matter how you make cuts in your material to respect the time restrictions, your performance must have a clear story line with a beginning, the middle and the climatic end. Remember Acting 101 and nail down the who, what, when, where and how. Then live it! You cannot miraculously wing a job interview which is what an audition is. Thorough preparation as an actor, singer and dancer will only enhance “in the moment” spontaneity. An amateur underprepares due to lack of knowledge. Part of that preparation is selecting the right song and/or monologue. It must speak to you and your personal experience and emotions. Don’t take the amateur’s method and pull out monologues from a book. Study plays and films for wonderful scenes you would love to be cast in. Same for song options.
Have your book of songs organized and edited clearly. Get your headshots done by a pro who works in the industry and knows what you need. Along with a resume’ that is neatly printed and limited to a single page, also start working on your demo reel with someone who knows something about sound and lighting. None of these things have to cost a fortune but you want the best tools you can afford in your toolbox. If you are seeking or have found representation, follow this person’s advice on image, interview suggestions and where to keep working on your craft.
A career in the performing arts is an exciting one and there is no one path to success. There will always be competition for the jobs available out there but if you hang in there and treat the work you do with respect and pride, your name will be on one of them. Let the confidence in your talent and skills allow you the freedom to show who you are when it counts!
Break a leg!