Acting is a difficult career to embark on and as such, there is work that actors should diligently do every day if they aspire to succeed and make a living out of it.
From learning lines to networking and going to the gym regularly here are some of the important things you can work on to improve your acting skills and stay competitive.
1. Practice learning your lines everyday
Everybody memorizes or learns things in a different way, so put emphasis on using and experimenting with different techniques. Some methods might work well with some roles and totally fail with others.
It is also important to identify which techniques work best with different scenarios and figure out why if possible. This will help you tailor your techniques for different roles or material.
The ability to remember your lines is a crucial skillset for actors especially for situations like last minute additions and scene or line changes.
2. Networking and communication
It is absolutely essential to be seen and noticed by people in the acting industry such as talent agents, casting directors, and others.
Attend events that filmmakers, writers, fellow actors, and casting directors will go to. Find events that you know people in the industry will attend like screenings and charity events, and make sure to participate.
By doing basic research and strategic maneuvering you can develop a network that includes a wide range of acting industry professionals.
Another effective tool for connecting with players in the industry is social media. Use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to follow and engage with casting directors and acting agents.
After making a connection make sure you stay in touch and engage with them on a regular basis. A vital point to remember when networking is that you should provide value to people first before you can expect them to do anything for you.
You should take one step every day to reach out and communicates with someone in the industry. As an actor networking is just as important as your acting skills. Networks are essential for providing you with auditioning opportunities, landing roles as well as valuable information and insights.
3. Practice cold reading
A cold reading is a vital exercise for actors to practice every day.
It helps you gauge your response to the written material.
Making sure you’re not reading your lines too fast or incorrectly is important.
This will help you trick your subconscious to focus on being in the moment and portraying the essence of the words instead of just dry reading.
Practice your cold reading with different materials and try to master expressing the underlying nuances and emotions of the text every time.
4. Develop your acting skills every day
Like any other profession, acting requires continuous practice in order to develop and improve your skill sets. An excellent way to do this is by performing acting exercises.
Acting is a profession that has a lot of downtime in between jobs. Working on acting exercises is, therefore, an excellent method to keep your mind and body sharp during times when you are not working.
Although a lot of acting exercises require a partner to do them with there are certain exercises that you can practice daily by yourself.
Here are some exercises to practice every day:
This exercise focuses on making or receiving phone calls from three people each in a different scenario.
- You’re calling your mom who you have talked to earlier in the day. She had been complaining about something and you are feeling irritated and resentful while you’re picking up the phone. You talk to your mom for a little while and then you hang up.
- Your next call is to a woman that you like and are thinking about asking her out. You are tense and nervous about making the call. You talk to her for a bit ask her out on a date and then end the call.
- Your last call is to your veterinarian. You are calling to check up on your cat who is quite sick. The vet tells you that your cat is not likely to improve and that you need to consider putting her down. You finish the call slumped into a chair feeling pain and loss.
The focus of this exercise is nailing the specifics and giving a believable and honest performance in the moment.
This exercise will probably require you to go outside. Find a complete stranger and look at them for a few minutes.
Pay attention to their behavior and what they’re doing at the moment. It is important that you don’t get noticed by the person that you are observing because people behave and act differently when somebody is watching.
Ask yourself questions while you are observing a person;
- How old are they?
- What kind of personality do you think they have?
- What makes them stand out from the rest of the people in that area?
- What do they do for a living?
- Are they married, single, or have a family?
Now that you have conjured the story of the person that you observed, it is time to put it to use.
Go home and pick out a script or play that you have. Choose a character and try to put the person that you had been watching in place of the character.
This exercise enables you to develop your observation and character-building skills as well as your Imagination. For more exercises check out seven acting exercises to do alone.
5. Read daily
Reading is another important activity that actors should be doing every day. It develops your empathy and expands your thinking. As an actor, you will sometimes struggle to connect with your character.
This usually happens in cases where the character has a completely different personality than yours.
Thus reading a book or a play enables you to understand how that person:
- Feels emotionally
- What motivates them
- How they think and interact in the world
This will help you come up with your own unique approach to figuring out an unfamiliar character and give an honest and believable performance.
Make your reading material diverse and challenging in order to get varying perspectives and viewpoints. Mix up your reading from fiction to plays, biographies, theater and history.
There is no better way for an actor to become exceptional at storytelling than reading. When you read books daily you get to understand how the structure of a story, the plot, conflicts work together to breathe life into a story.
6. Film Yourself
- Get yourself a monologue or pick scenes from a script or play.
- Learn your lines and be off-book.
- Set up a camera and film your performance.
- Prepare as you would for an audition.
- Find a spot in the room to focus on while performing.
- Imagine how the other characters in your piece would interact with your character and incorporate that in your acting.
- Watch your performance and pay attention to what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved.
Filming your performances will allow you to be more relaxed in front of a camera and help you pinpoint technical aspects that you need to work on and refine.
You will easily be able to see if your eyeline was correct or if you were projecting the right emotions. Keep trying different techniques to find what works for you.
This is a simple exercise which will help you be comfortable and develop skills that you will use a hundred percent when you are on a film set.
Always keep in mind that acting comes from within. Don’t spend too much time and focus on external things like facial expressions, body posture, and body language.
Instead, concentrate on capturing the thoughts and emotions that lead to the actions.
7. Go to the gym
Going to the gym and working out enables you to stay fit both physically and mentally.
Most people and actors, in particular, get caught up in their hectic schedules and often neglect our most important asset that is our health.
Going to the gym on a regular basis also helps us eat good nutritious food, and avoid detrimental activities like smoking and overindulging in alcohol.
Being fit makes you feel good about yourself and infuses enthusiasm in your day-to-day activities. Unlike other professions, in acting, going to the gym or exercising is a mandatory practice.
Acting requires movement and the long hours on set require endurance.
Focus your workouts towards building stamina and keeping your body fit to avoid injuries. Working out is also a great way to blow steam and relieve stress.
8. Watch movies, TV shows, and plays
A great way to learn and improve your acting is by watching other actors perform. Don’t always watch the same old stuff you usually do. Break up your routine and view old movies or shows that didn’t receive critical acclaim.
You are not watching for pleasure so make sure to pay attention the details like the plots, arc of the story, and the performance of the actors.
In some cases, the shows, and plays that you have seen will overlap with the roles you are auditioning for or that you have landed which will make your life so much easier.
A lot of directors are movie enthusiasts and will usually give you a scene from a film or a play as a point of reference for what they want you to perform.
If you have spent time watching different kinds of movies plays and even documentaries chances are you will easily understand and communicate in such situations.
9. Enroll in an acting class
Acting is a profession that requires constant learning. Unlike other professions, it’s not something that you can learn or practice for a short period of time and then be proficient.
You will inevitably have lots of downtime in between auditions and performing as an actor. If you’re not constantly taking classes and practicing your acting skills your performance will suffer.
To get back into rhythm and act well will take time and you might miss important opportunities while you do so. It is therefore imperative that you attend some type of acting class.
There are numerous types of acting classes that you can undertake. To start off choose one or two classes and dedicate your time and effort to mastering them.
If you are a beginner actor you should focus on acting techniques or foundation classes. More seasoned actors however should always focus on scene study class especially if it’s on camera.
Scene study classes are invaluable in keeping your acting skills sharp and allow you to keep improving your acting skills.
11. Do vocal warmups and exercises
For actors, their voice is one of the most important instruments that they use to express their craft. Warming up your vocal cords is essential to keep them healthy and avoid damaging them.
Warming up and exercising your voice on a daily basis will help you with your range, volume, and articulation.
It is important to keep your voice active and trained even when you are not performing. Therefore it is essential to incorporate daily vocal warmups and exercises into your daily routine.
Acting can be very demanding on your vocal cords so it is a good investment of your time and energy to keep them fit and healthy. Training your voice every day will also help you avoid damaging your vocal cords and losing your voice.
12. Sharpen your auditioning skills
Auditioning as you probably already know is a difficult process that all actors have to excel in if they want to land roles and be employed. However just like other aspects of acting it a skill that can be refined and honed over time.
Each casting director has different needs and requirements that they are trying to fulfill.
Here a few things you can keep in mind and practice every day to enhance your auditioning skills.
- Develop a patient mentality because you might not land roles as often as you want.
- When you are auditioning it is crucial that you prepare well ahead of time and be relaxed and not preoccupied with your nervous self judging thoughts.
- Understand the fact that the outcome is out of your control. Give your best acting at an audition and stop obsessing about the result.
- When preparing for an audition dig deep into the material and explore the nuances and tone. This will make your performance unique and interesting.
- Present your own understanding of your character when auditioning. Casting directors want to see your take of a character and not what you think they are looking for.
- Be enthusiastic and excited about your performance. A lot of actors don’t get the role they auditioned for but get called back because they put on a great performance.
13. Use online resources
You should always be on the lookout for jobs on casting sites even if you have an acting agent.
You need to be prepared for anything, especially if you are inexperienced.
You should practice lines every day, practice cold reading on friends and family, and watch movies on your own time.
This will ensure that you’re ready to face any challenge that comes your way on the big stage.
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