The title above are the first words of the well known Serenity Prayer, the first step
in trusting a higher power and starting the search to know oneself intimately.
As performers, most of our job consists of endless auditioning before we get that
opportunity to actually perform for an audience. Very few of us find joy in looking
for a job, or in our profession, a “gig.” The people on the other side of the table
have all the power to make our dreams come true so we must please and impress
each of them, right? Let’s think about that.
You’ve spent tons of money and time in the classroom, at workshops, performed for
free for the “exposure,” nailed down the perfect headshot, demo reel and resume’
and it is now time for the payoff. Instead, more likely, you hear, “Thank you for
coming in. We’ll get back with you.” Rejected, failed again. They didn’t like you.
You are a talentless no good hack. But wait! Whoever said those things? You did!
The only reality is that you weren’t chosen for that gig. In my experiences on both
sides of the casting table, I’ve discovered that I actually do have power I can choose
to use or not. Getting back to the “Serenity Prayer,” which states, “God, grant me the
serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference,” I remind myself that I can only be my best
self. And that is enough if I know who and what that is.
When we truly know ourselves and allow others to really see and experience who
we are, results are almost always positive. But as a performer we so easily make
the mistake of trying to be what we think production staff across the table wants.
We do this in our romantic lives as well. If you know you are a kick butt vocalist
who can make magic, then discover the joy in sharing that part of you with no
reservations. Become unashamedly vulnerable. If you know you are funny and
enjoy making people laugh, be that person at the audition. Fear of failure and
rejection causes all of us to censor our actions, words and performance choices.
We should study very young children. They don’t have enough life experience to
hide who they truly are. What you see is what you get. Simple enough, right?
That’s why I discourage acting class for any child under 8 years. Not to say they
shouldn’t practice speaking and reading out loud and playing imaginative games.
But when they perform, they pretend with honesty and a true lack of pretense.
As my students prepare for an important audition/interview I encourage them,
of course, to master the techniques of their craft as this simply evens the
playing field out there. But when its time to deliver under pressure, its all
about letting your future employer see the real you. What a director, casting agent, producer
are all evaluating is, “Will an audience want to spend time with this person and
root for them as this character in our project? Will he/she put the butts in the
seats so we can insure the success of this venture?” That’s really all there is as
the ultimate priority. If out of a case of stage fright or trying to please everyone,
you will most likely come across as unauthentic with no self confidence.
This, obviously, will worry the production team because they want to have confidence in
choosing you for the job.
Auditions are a different kind of performance. So prepare for them as you would
any production. Rehearse, memorize, strengthen your skills and do any homework
needed. But the hard part is recognizing and accepting who you are and letting
others see it. Are you clumsy? Own it. Are you cute, gorgeous, interesting, striking,
scary when people first see you? Figure it out and own it. Are you the overweight
side kick or the innocent ingénue? Are you shy or are you an extrovert? Are you
sexy, short, tall, athletic? Fall in love with yourself, warts and all then go out in
the world and love being you! We’re all scared of something. So what. If you want
to take center stage, share all of yourself! There is a place for you in our chosen
field because there is no one like you!
What makes me very proud of my successful students is the joy they bring to their
performances. Out of all the feedback I receive, most often are comments about the
joy, commitment and high energy a patron witnessed. Sometimes, the differences
between performers are enormous. When you know yourself, you will be
confident no matter what others think about you and your talent.
When you truly know who you are and what you can do, you can rely
on the serenity to control what you can and let go of the things you can’t.
And when you know the difference between the two, most people you want
to work with are going to love you!
Sing your own song, always!