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7 Things Actors Can Do Every Day to Succeed

Photo by: Carl Heyerdahl

By Marci Liroff

One of my Twitter followers is doing a 30-day acting challenge and asked me if I had any advice. Of course, it got me thinking about what actors can do on a daily basis to help themselves. Acting is like learning a musical instrument: You’ve got to practice every day.

Here’s a short list of what you can do Monday through Sunday to stay plugged in.

1. Check online sites for casting notices. Even if you have representation, you’ve got to remember that you are a team, and if you happen to notice that a project is casting and you know the showrunner or producer well, you should alert your agent or manager so they can follow up.

2. Go to the gym. Yes, you must keep your body in shape. Although it may seem like there’s a lot of waiting around on the set, you’ve got to have stamina and flexibility so you don’t hurt yourself. Exercise helps your mental health as well.

3. Learn a new scene or monologue every day.

Think of your brain as a muscle; you need to work it out and teach it new tricks every day so that it can grow.

Learning how to memorize lines on the fly is a must that everyone should have in their toolkit. I have a nice list of free screenplays on my site.

4. Check in with what’s going on in the business around you. Also on the resources page of my website is a list of sites and blogs you should read daily. If you’re going to work in this business, you have to know what’s going on outside of you, what shows have been picked up, and what the trends are.

5. Watch a few episodes of all the shows on TV. You might have noticed that you generally get an audition the night before you’re meant to be auditioning. You’re then tasked with learning all the dialogue and making specific and colorful character choices. Think of what a timesaver it would be if you’ve already seen the show and don’t have to do that research when you have only a few hours to prepare your scenes.

6. Watch old movies. Check out my list of iconic and important films. Many directors today don’t know how to help you on your scene. They know exactly where to put the camera but don’t speak “actor.” But they’re all film addicts, and they may give you a scene from a movie as a reference for what they’re looking for. You’ll benefit from being a walking, talking film library.

7. Get in an acting class. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I see many actors who aren’t in a weekly class. Think about it: How often do you actually get to get up there and act? If it’s just a few auditions a month, then you’re not keeping your instrument in tune.

What other things do you do daily that help you as an actor?

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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An Ode to Actors

Photo courtesy Ian Schneider

By Marci Liroff

I posted an inspirational tweet the other night on Twitter, Instagram, and my business Facebook page.

It got more reaction (and interaction) than anything I’ve ever posted.

The only other thing that came close was when Robin Williams died and I posted something about depression with a suicide hotline. And I didn’t even write it! I was quoting a former actor:

“Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life—the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment—to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart.

In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be

And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”

What’s the takeaway from this?
One: I have a large actor following. Two: People like to be honored for their hard work. And three: People like to be inspired. But I knew there was more. I went directly to the source, writer David Ackert.

When was this written?
I wrote this in 1998, almost 20 years ago. Since that time, it has taken on a life of its own. It has been quoted all over the internet, in numerous books and publications, and has been translated into several languages and repurposed for singers, dancers, musicians, and painters.

What prompted you to write this?
In 1998, I was madly in love with a woman who was not an actor. She couldn’t understand why I was dedicated to a profession that was so unstable. One day I’d be working on a TV series, the next day unemployed. It was scary for her that I had so little control over my financial security, and clear to her that I wasn’t about to change professions, so eventually she ended the relationship. I was devastated, and wrote the passage to remind myself and anyone else struggling through a similar hardship that an artist’s relationship to their art is a uniquely precious experience, and while it comes with many sacrifices, it is ultimately worth pursuing.

Why do you think this has resonated with so many?
I believe that artists have a wholly unusual experience of life. They are dedicated to a dream and will pursue it at any cost. Most people don’t know what it means to believe in an irrational idea that’s so powerful that it completely defines them. That’s why the artist’s journey is simultaneously blissful, heartbreaking, and deeply lonely. I think the quote resonates for artists because it reminds us that we share that same swirl of juxtaposing feelings. And it is my hope that the quote inspires artists to pursue their self-expression without apology or regret.

What work are you doing now?
I retired from the entertainment industry in 2009 when I discovered that I could create, perform, and produce original content in the business world. Once I learned how to broaden my definition of success, I gained access to opportunities that were much more attainable than Hollywood stardom. Now I channel my creativity on my own terms.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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Can I Get a Do-Over?

By Marci Liroff

Spring Audition Bootcamp classes are starting in May in Los Angeles. Click here to sign-up.

While watching the 2017 Grammy Awards, I witnessed the most remarkable thing: The uber-talented singer-songwriter Adele took the stage for a sung tribute to her friend George Michael.

It soon became apparent that she was slightly off-key and her in-ear mics weren’t working. So she shut the orchestra down and on live television said,

“Can we please stop? I just can’t do it again like last year. I just can’t fuck this up, it means too much to me. I’m sorry for swearing and I’m sorry for starting over, but can we please just start it again? I’m sorry, but I just can’t mess this up for him.”

And with that, the audience rose to their feet cheering, the orchestra started again, and she gracefully began the song for a second time. In that moment, Adele won us over.

Last year, singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith sang Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fallat the Nobel Prize ceremony.

A few moments into her rendition, she faltered. She had forgotten the lyrics. She was devastated. Again, like a pro, she stopped the band, apologized profusely, saying she was very nervous, and started again. She exhibited such grace and was so honest, vulnerable, and respectful of the material. I couldn’t have loved her more in that moment.

The do-over. It’s that awkward moment when you’re most human.

How often do we get this opportunity? In life, not often, but if you handle it correctly, you can steer the crowd in your favor. This made me think of actors and auditions.

In my classes and coaching, actors always ask, “Can I start over?”

Here’s my take on it—and you know I’m always going to tell you the truth, or at least my truth, having gone through several decades of the filmmaking process: If you’re at the beginning of a scene and get off to a bad start, say, “I’m going to start over.” Don’t apologize, don’t give a thousand “I’m sorry”s. Don’t ask for permission, just start again. This is you taking control of the audition room and letting us know you’ve got it under control. There’s no point in going through a three- to five-page scene if you know you’re not in the zone. But don’t abuse the privilege. I have had actors go over and over scenes, asking if they can do it again. It’s a glimpse into how you might be on set, and it doesn’t bode well.

I suggest that you not stop in the middle of a long scene when you’re almost at the end. Remember, we want you to know the material, be off-book, and give us the dialogue as written. But if you miss a word or a phrase, there’s no need for you to start over as long as you stay in the scene and stay in character. We’ll be impressed by this.

Here’s a good trick if you go up on your lines or get lost deep into your scene: Stop, raise your hand to the person you’re reading with, take a moment (which means a nanosecond), then continue where you left off. It’ll give you a beat to pull it together and not have to start over.

In my article “How Not to Fall Off the Tightrope in an Audition” I wrote  how to reframe and pivot within the audition if you get off-track. If you miss a word, it’s not the end of the world. That said, it’s how you handle it that will make you rise above and get your audience cheering for you.

Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)

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