By engaging in an authentic lifestyle, you will see this translate into your acting career… here is why authenticity is so valuable.Tweet
Over the next month, can you be 5% more authentic?
#1 Being more authentic in your life will lead to more authenticity in your acting work
First of all, cultivate authenticity in every aspect of your life. Can you be more truthful and authentic in your relationships? Your hobbies? Your friendships, fashion, social media – everything?
If you want to wear new shoes but are worried they’re not on trend: just wear them!
If you want to share something on social media, but not sure what your friends will think: share it!
Build that authenticity muscle.
It’s gonna be hard – often the people around you don’t want you to change. They want to keep you in a neat box. Our desire to fit in and be accepted is a big part of who we are, but don’t let that override your equally important desire to be authentic.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
#2 Eradicate Perfectionism
Perfectionism has no value as an Actor. Sometimes it is branded as a positive, but generally it shouldn’t be.
The quality standard you have as an Artist and your desire to create honest and connected work, cannot just disappear if it’s something you truly hold to be important.
What we mean is that you, as an Artist, will always strive to make good work. You can’t help it. So, perfectionism is often just an excuse not to strive before you’ve even begun. It’s that fear and judgement that threatens to stop you progressing.
The origin of the word “Sincere” is Sine = Without, and Cere = Wax. It comes from Ancient Rome, where sketchy statue merchants would cover up imperfections with wax to hide the flaws. Being sincere is to be “Without Wax”.
If you want to be a sincere and authentic actor, embrace your flaws, if anything use them to your advantage.
#3 Let Go of the Outcome
In all aspects of your life, and your artistic work, can you endeavour to let go of the outcome?
Start valuing the process of the work, not the end point (which you have no control over). Again, if you can do this in of your personal life, it will help when you work artistically. This one is much easier said than done, but the more you can trust your own work and let go of what other people think – the more empowered and content you will be as an Artist.
“If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin.” Søren Kierkegaard
Brene Brown pretty much has this one covered, but vulnerability is authenticity.
As Actors, we are incredibly sensitive and so the ‘character armour’ we have can be tougher than most. We hide who we are for fear of ridicule and judgement. But if we want to be great Artists we have to drive into vulnerability. Right into the heart of it.
Don’t hold onto any idea of being “good”, or being “liked”. Cultivate vulnerability in your relationships (both personal and professional) and in every aspect of your life. Doing this will allow vulnerability to then flow into your acting work.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” E.E. Cummings
Most Actors struggle with being authentic in their work simply because they haven’t explored their artistry nearly enough. You’ll be getting closer once you have worked on a countless number of scenes, monologues, auditions, short films, theatre productions etc.
If you can regularly practice and improve your craft, and challenge yourself to explore a wide range of genres and styles, you will find yourself artistically. With this discovery will come a sense of ease, and relaxed air to how you perform. This, alone, will make you a much more authentic Actor.
#6 YOU are the Character
When you get to working on a script or character, let go of this idea of the character being out there in the distance. The character is within. Each of us possess all the human qualities of every character we might ever play.
All you have to do is find that within, and expand that part of yourself. If you were playing Hamlet, you might lean into your own connection with melancholy, or wit, or perhaps some paternal tension…
This reframing of the way we look at creating characters will allow you to feel more empowered in all your work.
“The first step to a better audition is to give up character and use yourself.” Michael Shurtleff
The defining factor of an authentic Actor is their ability to make CHOICES.
When I am describing an authentic performance, I am describing one where the Actor has an attitude on every single line of text in the script. They have no neutrality, and not a word of a line is wasted in their pursuit of the all-important objective.
Avoid indifference and neutrality in all your work. Which basically means: stop playing it safe. Figure out how your character feels about every single line, have an attitude on it, and back yourself with those choices.
“The talent is in the choices” Robert De Niro
All great acting is important, and all great characters are doing something important. Even if their action seems small, it is never insignificant. Always remember that.
The word “authenticity” in the acting world right now is almost synonymous with “small choices”. We see this in a lot of film acting classes all around the world: young Actors are being taught to “do less”, as that looks more “natural” when being filmed close-up in 4K resolution.
We couldn’t disagree more.
Just because a performance is subtle, or nuanced, doesn’t mean it’s small. Often, a natural performance is backed by an incredibly complex process, with Actors devoting hours to script and character work. Just to look like they “do less”.
We’ve all met people in our lives who are living authentically – those people who are truly awake to themselves, and they are anything but small. They are proud to ‘take up space’. They emanate an aura, charisma and clarity of person.
As you become more authentic in your acting work, you will find you become bolder, stronger and braver in your choices, not smaller.
Authenticity is not small.
We hope some of these ideas resonate with you. We encourage you to explore authenticity in your life and your work as an Actor. Remember that both of these things feed each other.
We may, at times, struggle to bring our authentic selves out into the world, but remember we, as Actors, are all wonderfully weird. We say – embrace it! Authenticity is vital to become a great Actor, and a noble goal to pursue.