Letting Go For Actors – The Secret Of a Great Performance

an asian woman is letting go of thoughts/beliefs she held to which are represented by tiny white birds leaving her brain

A bad actor can’t overcome their fears or insecurities when in front of the camera. A great actor, on the other hand, has an ability to not focus on anything but their performance.

Acting is about being fully present in the moment and finding the spontaneity that makes your character come to life in front of the audience.

When you are self-conscious and focused on the mechanics of your acting this almost always results in bad acting.

It is absolutely important to prepare as much as possible for a role or audition, but once the cameras are on you have to let go and let your intuition guide you.

This article explores the reasons and benefits of why letting go is essential for a successful acting performance.

Let go of self-judgment

let go of ideas like these pink and red paper butterflies leaving the garbage bin

Today, we live in a society where self-help or self-improvement is a thriving billion-dollar industry. As a result, we are constantly being told that there is something wrong with us.

There is always that product, seminar, or book that can help you with your problem.

Now obviously we all have problems or situations we need to fix, but this super-focus on what is wrong and daily bombardments of this message is now at a toxic level.

It makes us focus on what is wrong or what can be improved which in turn makes us chronically self judgemental. As an actor self-judgment is one of the biggest challenges you have to overcome when auditioning or giving a performance.

Acting is about portraying the lives of human beings which are often messy and flawed.

When we are constantly bombarded with messages that make us judge ourselves and feel insecure, it is easy to put up a fake image and pretend like we have everything under control.

That’s why as actors you have to be vulnerable and connect with our authentic selves. Acting is about revealing and not lying or putting on a fake veneer.

Successful actors accept themselves and leverage their vulnerability to evoke real and natural emotions in their performances.

Because they are facing their internal issues and drawing upon them to empower their acting -you can see their confidence emerge naturally and without deliberate effort.

Instead of being fearful, and judgmental about your fears, you should embrace your doubts and insecurities and work through them. Of course, this is easier said than done and realistically it will take lots of work and self-acceptance.

At the end of the day, it is vital to recognize the fact that acting is emotionally and physically messy. Thus tapping into our vulnerabilities to enhance our acting is a much more viable, healthy, and sustainable option.

So the next time you notice self-judgment creeping into your thoughts remember that you can use it to your advantage.

Simply smile, accept that things are just as they should be and gently let it go.

Let go of results.

tiny square wooden block with the words let it go

As an actor, it is necessary to set goals that challenge you and encourage you to develop yourself and keep progressing in your craft and career.

In a career that is by its nature unpredictable and success is never guaranteed, goals will help you stay focused, handle uncertainty and achieve your objectives and plans.

However, a lot of actors start fixating on results and obsess over their progress. They set goals like booking six auditions in the next month or landing 5 roles in professional productions within 8 months.

These types of goals are focused on getting results over which they don’t have any control. Focusing on expectations and results can be extremely dangerous and can leave you feeling discouraged.

The key here is to realize that you have absolute control over your actions and the only thing you can consistently do is to put in the work.

Unfortunately, you really have no control over the outcome of your goal no matter how dedicated you are or how much work you have done. Results are guaranteed to no one.

When your focus is on attaining results you are liable to become stubborn and get entrenched in your viewpoints.

Over time this will inevitably lead to disillusionment and stagnation when after numerous attempts you don’t achieve the results you aimed for.

The solution here is simple. Put all your focus on achieving your goals and learn to be flexible and objective in your approach. You need to always work on the things and circumstances you control and let go of the results.

Play the moment.

Be, Being, Presence, Here, Now, Spirit

Being present in the current moment right now is the best way to get out of your head and focus on your acting performance. Every moment is different from the previous one.

Stay in the moment and be fully aware of its uniqueness and engage with it accordingly. Whenever you are auditioning or performing a role in a production, focus your attention and energy on the reader or fellow actors you are working with.

Look, listen and be fully immersed in what the other person is doing. Make it all about them at that moment.

Whenever you are about to do a scene, approach it like the moment it is. Tackle it as if it is the first time you are doing it and you have never done it before. Let everything that happens surprise you.

If you put yourself in your character’s place they don’t know what is happening in the scene and are experiencing it for the first time. Every time you are playing a scene try to discover something new.

This approach has two important benefits for actors. First, it gets you out of your head and allows you to fully engage with your performance and discover new things and nuances everytime.

Second, it makes your acting look natural and the audience will be more likely to believe and appreciate your performance. Next time you are performing a scene, be fully present and let your character exist in the moment.

Say your lines naturally and not perfectly

Macro Photography of Tree

Sometimes actors get mixed up on the lines, they’re thinking about sound more than anything else.

Don’t do that because that’s not how you talk normally in real life.

Also don’t give equal importance and delivery to every word you say. Try muttering some words under your breath but make sure the audience can still understand what you are saying.

This will make your speech sound more natural and you should always refrain from trying to say your lines perfectly.

Dropping your voice just a bit when your are acting on camera will also help your speech sound natural.

Add some sounds like “aha”, “hmmm”, laughter and play with your intonations just like you would in real life.

Take in the casual way people speak in life. Notice how everybody talks differently.

Some words come out fast. Some are choppy and start and stop often and some are slow and almost drag from our mouths.

Change the way you say your words by adding variety. Change the pitch of your voice, say some words and whisper other words.

Speaking your lines in a natural manner will make your acting more believable. It will also help draw the audience into the story that you are telling.

Mastering how you deliver your lines will help you be confident every time you are acting. By letting go of your doubt and anxiety, you will be able to fully focus on your acting.

Let go of perfectionism

let go of trying to be perfect as nobody is perfect shown on the sign

According to performance psychology, perfectionism is not a need to be perfect. It is rather a personal belief that you have to be perfect.

Perfectionists berate themselves when they make mistakes or they don’t achieve their own extremely high expectations. This eventually leads to fear and avoidance of failure.

When it comes to actors perfectionism usually manifests in avoiding risk and choosing safe choices to minimize mistakes and failure.

What you want to do however is focus on your strengths and areas in which you excel. Do this whether you are auditioning or acting on a production and be confident.

As for failure and your fear of it, the best antidote is relentless practice. If you practice your acting skills regularly and learn from your mistakes you will get confidence and mastery in time.

Familiarity breeds success.

Therefore make it a point to regularly take acting classes like scene study or audition technique. You can also join or set up acting groups where you can read monologues, study scripts and perform together.

Improv classes are especially beneficial if you are an actor who struggles with perfectionism. It is an excellent environment in which there is no right or wrong way to perform. In improv a mistake is actually an opportunity to learn and tap in to your creative side.

You also learn to accept the inevitability of making mistakes and learn to harness them to improve your craft. It helps you take yourself less seriously and actually have fun in challenging circumstances.

Mastering the ability to view moments where you mess up a line or miss a cue, as an opportunity to delve into the unexpected and come up with a different interpretation or performance, is the ultimate cure for perfectionism and fear of failure.

Let go of your habitual instinct to be perfect and let your intuition enhance all the practice and hard work you have done.

Your colleagues, as well as casting directors, will appreciate you for it.

Conclusion

Actors always perform well when they follow their impulses in a scene and are confident in the choices they make. There are several obstacles that you have to overcome however in order to get there.

The main ones are trying to be perfect, self judgment, and focusing too much on results you can’t control.

Regardless of all the training and dedication, you invest into your acting these problems will hinder you from delivering your best acting.

It often leads to over-thinking, trying too hard, not taking risks, ignoring creative impulses and not building authentic connections with scene partners or costars.

There are several things you can do to overcome these issues. These include focusing on the things you can actually control(training and preparation), being fully present in the moment and treating each scene like it was your first, and taking improv classes.

Underlying all these things however is the most important thing of all which is letting go. You have to be willing and able to let go of your fears and expectations.

Once you let go and tune in to your intuition you will without a doubt deliver believable and entertaining performances.

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