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Acting Industry Tips: What They Don’t Tell You On the Set

film set

A lot goes on behind the scenes before commercials, TV shows, and movies make it to the air. Here, New York, NY acting teacher Stephanie B. shares a few of the acting industry secrets that you should know as an aspiring actor…

 

Being on a film, TV, or commercial set for the first time is exciting and wonderful and VERY confusing. And, worse, everyone will assume you know what to do and when to do it. Here are five acting industry tips to help you look and feel like a pro!

1. The AD
There will usually be anywhere from three to six ADs (Assistant Directors) on set, but at least one will be your friend. You will know which AD it is because they will be the one to check in and make sure you are on set. In the flurry of that, GET THEIR NAME and don’t forget it. Why? They are also the only one who can release you from shooting at the end of the day. Trust me, you do not want to be the actor who left when they were still needed. When you think you are done, check with them to be certain.

2. The Microphone
Many times you will wear a body microphone duct-taped to some part of your back or hip. Remember that it is ON or LIVE even when you are not shooting. Do not bad-mouth anyone or talk about how tired you are. And if you need to use the bathroom, find someone to turn it off or better yet remove it momentarily — you do not want those activities recorded, nor do you want to drop the microphone in the toilet!

3. On film, be framed right.
In every shot you are in, you are ‘framed’ by the camera. It is OK to ask where you are framed — maybe it is from the chest up — as it is good to know. Also, if you are in a scene, focus on the other actors’ eyes so you don’t get nervous. An old trick is to focus on their one eye that is closest to the camera to keep your face shot well.

4. Eyeline
If you are being shot as you look or talk to someone off-camera, the camera will be framing you (and only you!), but it will not look good if you are speaking to a 6’2″ person and looking up only to find out they are sitting in this scene. You should ask ‘Where is my eyeline?” which will tell you where your eyes should be looking. It is a professional way to ask, and believe me, they will love you for it.

5. Always be nice
You’d think this would be a given, but most actors are so overwhelmed on their first day on set that this and much else is completely forgotten. Thank the costumer, make-up artist, the AD, the director if you get the chance, as well as any other actors. Trust me, this simple step, in a world of texts, tweets, emails, and so forth is surprisingly welcome to film crews.

So, there you go! With these acting industry tips, I guarantee your first day on the set will be clearer, more professional, and less stressful. Plus, you will be on your way to creating your best actor tool of all: reputation! Now you can really be ready for your close-up!

StephanieBStephanie B. teaches acting, audition prep, and accent reduction in New York, NY. As the Founder of Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company, she has taught audition classes, techniques, dialect and accent coaching, and acting classes for 14 years in NYC. Learn more about Stephanie here!

 

 

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How to Sing While Breaking a Sweat: Tips for Triple Threats

Grease

John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones are just a few of the Hollywood celebrities known for being “triple threats”–skilled in singing, dancing, and acting. Here, Corona, CA teacher Milton J. shares his tips for reaching their superstar status…

 

So you’ve decided to take vocal lessons to learn how to sing better, but the buck doesn’t just stop there for your own ambitions. You have your eyes set on the stage and the screen, and you won’t stop until you’re there. You may be doe-eyed and eager to learn, but you’re sure of where you want to end up. Your guide is nigh–just remember The Three P’s: Preparation, Practice, and Performance.

Preparation

That first wonderful step is taking vocal lessons. (And if you haven’t started those yet, what are you waiting for?! Book lessons with me, or find a teacher near you!) Finding a vocal teacher is very important in order for you to understand how to use your entire vocal cavity–not just how to sing. Taking vocal lessons will indeed improve your speaking and recitation voices as well.

Next, taking acting classes and workshops will allow you to put those new speaking and singing tools you’ve acquired into action, all the while improving your cue, marking, beat, and improvisation skills. From there, taking dance classes will start the third leg of your Triple-Threat race. Taking dance lessons will help you continue improving the skills you’ve picked up in your acting classes while adding in rhythm, technique, ensemble and solo routine, and vocal/dance incorporation.

Practice

You’ve heard the old adage time and time again–Practice Makes Perfect. It’s been around so long because it’s true; the best way to improve yourself after you’ve acquired the tools is to cultivate them into skills. After your vocal lessons, it’s important to do your daily vocal warm-ups and exercises to continue building strength in the muscles of your vocal cavity. After your acting classes and workshops, continue to run lines, blocking, and scene rehearsing. Visualization with a virtual stage at home can help to put all phases of your scene together. And after your dance lessons, continue doing your daily stretches and routine practicing in order to polish them up for the next class and, ideally, the eventual performance. P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E!

Performance

After the preparation, and after all of the practicing, the payoff draws near–the Performance. With your vocal lessons, seek out vocal opportunities either solicited from your vocal teacher or elsewhere. Community choral groups are a wonderful place to learn how to sing with others and cultivate your musical score reading skills. As a solo singer, your local coffee shop, bar, or music store may lead open mic nights for you to pop into and sing a few selections you’ve been working on for an audience.

For acting, look into your local community theater companies for audition opportunities. Check the audition dates (usually on their website or the theater box office) and ask your acting instructor for input on audition pieces if you haven’t already.

Lastly, for dancing, dance showcases are the perfect opportunity to strut your stuff. If you’re attending classes at a dance studio, chances are they’ll have a showcase coming up. If not, actively seek out showcases you can audition for–try your city’s Park and Recreation department, or other local dance studios. These organizations are always looking for new undiscovered talent or new dancers to join their ranks.

Preparation is the first step, Practice makes perfect, and the Performance is the goal. Now that you’re set with The Three P’s, you’re on your way to becoming the Triple Threat you know you can be! Break a leg!

MiltonJMilton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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So, Your Child Wants to Be an Actor? 3 Ways to Help Them Get Ahead

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Does your son or daughter have stars in their eyes and big Hollywood dreams? Find out how to tell if your child is ready for their acting debut–and the right things to work on–in this guest post by Glendale, CA teacher Nicole E...

 

Your child is the most special and precious thing in the world to you, but how do know if they are ready for the real world of a working actor? Lets face it, there are hundreds of kids arriving in LA everyday with the same hopes and dreams, and a lot of them have more experience or better connections. Living in LA is expensive, driving to and managing auditions can be extremely stressful, and facing constant rejection is hard for any adult, much less a young child.

So how do you know if it’s all worth it? In my time teaching classes at a “find you at the mall” kind of place, I learned how to distinguish between the kids who actually had talent, and the kids who were being scammed. There were parents who were struggling to pay their bills yet were dishing out thousands of dollars on acting classes for kids, fueled by the idea that their child would become a gold mine. In reality, that’s almost never the case.

The most important question you can ask yourself is “Why are we really doing this?”. If it’s for money–you will fail. Fame–you will fail. Pretty much any reason other than your child having a burning passion for what they do–you will fail. This may seem harsh, but in this industry you have to be able to separate yourself from the parent role and look at things from an outside perspective. You can be the best actor mom in the world, but booking the job is up to them. In order for a child actor to work they have to master three very important qualities:

1. Articulation – You would be amazed at how many children struggle to say their own name when put under pressure. You have to work with your child on delivering a clean, clear slate (name, age representation). When a casting director is seeing 100 kids for one line in a commercial, any mumbling or a lack of projection can be reason enough not to forward you on to the director.

2. Memorization – If your child starts booking acting jobs, they will be expected to perform at the level of adult working actors. They will have a call time, and they will have lines. Whether your child is at reading age or not, you must always be 100% off-book when you arrive on set. The best thing you can do to prepare them is to practice memorization in all aspects of life. Have them relay the plot of a movie you just watched, sing songs without looking at the lyrics, remember the grocery list, or recite the alphabet; anything you can do to stretch their memory will benefit you when it comes time to work.

3. Stage Presence – There is simply no room for shyness in an audition room. Your child will have to walk into a room full of strangers and look them in the eyes. Your child has to be okay with being seen. Notice how your child responds to attention, ask their teachers how they respond when being called on in class, and ask them to preform for family members to see if they clam up or shine under the pressure. If your child is constantly putting on shows for you in the living room, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will do the same when commanded to. Work with your child to achieve a level of professionalism that will stand out. They will start to understand that when audition time comes, they need to shift into working mode and deliver. Have your child introduce themselves when meeting new people or have them perform for people whom they may not be as comfortable around. It’s all about stretching that comfort zone.

All of these points can be practiced at home, however your child can benefit greatly from professional coaching and acting classes for kids. You can lay the groundwork, but there will always be a clear separation between the children who are trained and the ones who are not. You want to give your child as many tools as possible so that they feel ready and capable of delivering a solid performance.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars a month, but you do need to find an acting coach that your child is comfortable with. This may take time, but it will be worth it when you see them start to hone their craft and become little professionals. The journey for child actors can be a long and difficult one, and it’s your job to make sure their egos and self-esteem stay intact. Focus on delivering a good performance every time, as opposed to booking the job, and be sure to let your child know that you are proud of them no matter what. The tools mentioned above are important, but the biggest thing you can give your child is support.

NicoleENicole E. teaches acting in Glendale, CA. She attended New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and taught classes for International Preforming Arts Academy for two years. Learn more about Nicole here! 

 

 

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Which Type of Dance Style is Right For You?

As technology brings the world’s cultures together and choreographers continue to push the creative envelope, there are more types of dance classes now than ever before. Don’t let all the options overwhelm you, but don’t limit yourself to stereotypes either!

There are many different types of dance, but the fundamentals are often very similar. Read on to learn about each genre and find out which one is most compatible with your personality and interests.

8+ Different Types of Dance

Ballet

dance style 1: ballet

Graceful, elegant, precise, delicate: if these words describe you (or you wish they did), ballet might be the perfect fit.

With classical European roots and a vocabulary that’s still completely French, ballet has a long tradition of developing dancers who look weightless and effortless as they pull off difficult spins, extensions, and footwork.

But it’s far from easy, so if you fall in love with formal ballet, you’ll need to decide whether you want to make a serious commitment. Every professional ballet dancer has years of intense training behind him or her.

Even if you don’t have perfect posture or long, flexible legs, ballet’s structure and symmetry translates easily into other schools of dance. Ballet fusion, for example, takes musical and choreographic cues from wildly different genres, infusing traditional lines with influences that range from modern dance to Motown.

Julia Stiles helped popularize this notion in Save the Last Dance (2001). Her character’s ballet dancing finally came alive when she borrowed moves from hip hop, winning fictional judges’ approval and sending kids scrambling to studios with alternative approaches.

Contemporary, Modern, and Jazz

3 different types of dance styles: contemporary, modern, and jazz

Modern schools might look more casual than ballet, but these types of dance classes also incorporate very careful, specific choreography. Modern dance actually emerged a long time ago, when choreographers learned to treat the human body as a versatile tool that can be shaped and molded through dance.

From Martha Graham’s whole-body breathing exercises to today’s high-concept, contemporary performances, modern dance continues to challenge traditional notions of movement and art.

Meanwhile, jazz dance has also evolved throughout the decades, following and embodying popular music trends. From New Orleans jazz clubs to Michael Jackson’s iconic music videos, jazz dance is still a dynamic, current, and high-energy option that’s perfect for music lovers and natural athletes.

Tap Dancing

Different dance styles: tap dancing

Singing and acting aren’t the only performing arts that can land you on a Broadway stage, and your mouth isn’t the only body part capable of telling a compelling story. If you’re a naturally expressive person, your friends have probably noticed that you “talk” with your hands and facial expressions, or even with your whole body.

Tap dance is basically the same thing: acting out the details and emotions of stories with your feet. As you learn to control and coordinate the movement of your toes and heels, your internal rhythm and balance will transform for the better. No wonder Fred Astaire couldn’t get enough!

Theatrical Dance

Different type of dance: Theatrical dance

Theatrical instruction is an excellent way to channel physical energy and tap into your natural storytelling talents. It’s one of the best types of dance for those who thrive on constant sensory stimulation; props, costumes, music, and backgrounds are important elements of the theatrical dance performance.

Of course, choreographers also incorporate these to complement a ballet’s themes — or to highlight a jazz routine’s musical accompaniment — but for theatrical purposes, the colors and textures onstage are often just as important as the choreography.

Ballroom, Swing, and Other Pairs Dancing

3 Different Types of Dance: Ballroom, Swing, and Pair Dancing

From Dancing with the Stars to Silver Linings Playbook, ballroom dancing has officially arrived on the pop culture stage. If you’re revisiting your dancing shoes as an adult, this is a great place to start.

As you learn foot sequences and how to lead or follow, your instructor will help fine-tune your posture and sense of rhythm. These dance lessons are usually more casual than solo sessions in a professional studio, and because students have to pair off to rehearse their steps, you get the added bonus of socializing. Classes can be romantic bonding experiences for couples, or give single students a chance to connect with new friends.

Final Thoughts on Dance Styles

These are just eight of the many dance styles you can learn, but there are many more such as hip hop dance,  salsa, belly dancing, and so on.

Some types of dance are a perfect fit from the very first lesson, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Cover your bases and sign up for two or three different types of dance classes, if you’re interested in multiple styles.

Improvisation exercises in modern dance class can unleash the creative potential and inner confidence of a quiet, reserved dancer. And the structured nature of ballet choreography can help restless dancers improve their focus and control. Have fun, and you’ll find your niche soon enough!

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Dancing for Beginners: What Can I Expect at My First Lesson?

dance class

Ready to give a “dancing for beginners” class a shot? Here, teacher Liz T. shares what to expect, and how to set yourself up for success…

 

So you’ve signed up for your first dance class – excellent! Whether you are pursuing ballet, jazz, tap, modern, ballroom, salsa, or Zumba, here are some things to expect at your first lesson and tips to help you succeed in your dance training!

Decide Between Private Lessons or Group Lessons

Some dance classes, such as ballet, jazz, and tap, could have anywhere from 10-20 students in the dance room, all learning from one teacher. When you’re in one of these larger dance classes, as opposed to a one-on-one dance lesson, you must be able to learn in a group setting. If you are short, try to get a space in the front so you can see the instructor clearly; you don’t want to be doing the steps wrong because you were standing in the back and couldn’t see the teacher!

If you’d rather learn in a more one-on-one setting, or perhaps with just a partner and your teacher, many teachers offer private dance lessons. Do your research before you book your class, and decide what fits you best!

Expect Fast-Paced Lessons

Most dance classes range from 45 minutes to two hours, and there is so much to learn in so little time! The dance class will likely be fast-paced, usually starting with a warm-up, bar work, floor routines, and then working on a choreographed dance. At first, this may be overwhelming, but do your best at staying focused in the class, and try to pick up all the choreography as best you can. If you can’t get it the first time, don’t worry about it; this will happen over time, and that’s why you are taking dance classes! But just be prepared that the class may move very fast.

Be Open to Learning New Things

A lot of new dance moves and terminology (mostly in French for ballet training) will be thrown at you all at once. This may be intimidating and uncomfortable at first, but if you go in with an open mind, willing to try it, then you will succeed! If you are negative and say “I will never be able to dance like that” or “I can’t do this step” then you never will be able to. Instead, stay positive and be open to learning the new steps. You don’t have to be perfect or a Master of Dance; the point is to learn, have fun, and just give it your best! You never know until you try!

Set Your Own Personal Goals

In any given “dancing for beginners” class, there will be other dancers with all types of backgrounds. Don’t compare yourself to others in the class, although I’ll admit it is hard not to do. Set some goals for yourself personally, and don’t compare your progress to another student’s. We all have different learning techniques and paces. Set targets and realistic goals for yourself, whether that’s to be able to perform the combination at an upcoming recital, or to work on a split, or be on pointe at the end of the semester! Set goals that you can look forward to, and put in your best effort during each class!

LizTLiz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

 

 

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11 Ways Artists, Actors, & Students Can Earn Extra Money

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Working toward a career in the arts? You’re likely taking private classes or refining your skills in school – and with that comes tuition bills and loans, on top of cost of living. How can you survive and still get the training you need? Read on to learn 11 ways to earn extra money with these ideas from New York City teacher Jasmine B

 

Recently, I found a definition of a “survival job” as a low-wage, low-skill job that does not utilize one’s professional skills, but is necessary for economic survival. News flash: It does not have to be low-wage!

Here are some tried and true ways to earn extra money if you’re a starving artist or a famished student:

Temporary Staffing
Got MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or other computer skills? Do you have a knack for answering phones, faxing, copying, and the like? Temp agencies can send you out for daily or weekly staffing while you are out for the summer, and even on weekends during school. This handy dandy website has a lot of them listed in by city, and you’ll have to send in a resume and make a contact, but in the long run, this gig is fantastic.

Voice-Over Work
ACX and Audible are two of my favorite companies for voice-over work. If you have great voice and speech training, love to read books, and want to get paid for it, check them out. At the start, you may be paid anywhere $50 to $100 per finished hour (which technically means every two hours, since most people make a number of mistakes that must be finished in the editing room).

Fitness Instructor or Personal Trainer
Certified to teach yoga? Love the gym? Are you a dancer? This may be the path for you. Many of my friends have taught yoga to a small group of clientele, and one of my friends is a featured trainer at Equinox. He’s got his photo on a billboard and everything, and that’s just his day job!

Tutoring
If you’re good at math, science, history, language arts, foreign languages, or anything anyone wants to learn, you can be a tutor! With TakeLessons.com, for example, qualified tutors and teachers get help with finding students in their area, and you can even teach online lessons.

Be a Teaching Artist
A teaching artist is someone who is a current and practicing artist of the subject they teach. I am a teaching artist, and I’ve taught in Utah, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and am soon to teach in Africa! If you’re well-versed in your craft, you may be qualified to teach others. You need a strong resume, some recommendations, and it doesn’t hurt to have a Bachelor or Master’s degree, or a current degree of the like in progress. (Learn how to teach through TakeLessons here!)

Camp Counselor
Become the person you looked up to in fifth grade, and apply to be a camp counselor during the summer. Various camps offer competitive salary. The only downside: you most likely have to sleep on campus and eat camp food. Bonus points if you have a driver’s license; camps often need drivers to transport goods to and from camp.

Cat Sitter / Dog Walker
A quick check on Google and you’ll be directed to an array of companies dedicated to ensuring the safety, happiness, and health of our feline and canine friends. If you have experience with animals, this could be a lucrative gig. You could also make money hosting animals for a few nights a week while their owners away. Some companies offer $40-60 a night for this kind of service!

Nanny / Babysitter
If Mindy Kaling can do it, so can you! (But she can do everything.) You’ll need a background check, but there are websites like SmartSitting.com and Care.com that can put you in touch with families who need you. Artists make the best babysitters – they know how to engage with the artist in children, something parents love.

Blogging
One of the best online, part-time jobs for students is blogging or freelance writing. Blogging for your own personal site won’t bring in money immediately, but blogging for a company or organization will! If you’re a fan of writing and love to help others, this won’t bring in the big bucks immediately, but is an easy and fun way to earn extra money as a side venture while you’re doing anything else on this list.

SEE ALSO: Online Jobs for Students – 17 Ways to Earn While you Learn

Work In a Box Office
Many theatres hire box office assistants for the summer, and with perks like seeing some of the year’s hottest shows –why not?

Barista-City
I worked at Starbucks and got health insurance and tips to boot. Coffee is a much-loved and much-needed product, so why not be behind that? Also, companies like Starbucks give great benefits, like helping with college tuition, free coffee, and that snazzy green or black hat. You’ll also have knowledge about coffee that will stick with you for years. (Trust me.)

Jasmine B.Jasmine B. teaches speaking voice, stage performance, and acting in New York City. She’s studied acting from a young age, graduating from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and Wright State University’s Professional Actor Training Program. She currently serves as an educational outreach fellow for the Juilliard School.  Learn more about Jasmine here!

 

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10 Things They Don’t Tell You in Acting School

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You’ve studied Stanislavski, Meisner, Adler, and Suzuki. You’ve learned the Circle of Fifths and mastered your second turns. But are you ready for the real world? Here are a few golden tidbits to help any recent grad transition from the acting school environment into the working world, written by actor and teacher Jasmine B.:

1. Competition is Real

(But it doesn’t have to bring you down.)

Right around showcase time, students at acting colleges and conservatory programs start noticing a change in their classmates and maybe in themselves. The hunger for recognition that’s been staved off by four years of intense study has only ripened and sharpened over time, and intensifies the closer you get to whatever city in which your designated senior showcase takes place. Maybe this hunger doesn’t affect you; maybe it’s been there since the beginning. This hunger is the desire to “make it.”

This too often turns people against each other and makes us forget those who helped us along the way. They don’t tell you this in school, but I’m telling you now: KEEP YOUR HUNGER IN CHECK. Agents, casting directors, and other actors want to work with people who not only get the job done well, but who are joys to work with. A conniving, backstabbing, “hungry” actor is not a joy to work with. Use your hunger to be the best you that you can be. There is no need to drag others down to bring you up. It doesn’t work that way.

2. Everyone Knows Everyone, and You Never Know Who’s In Charge

(So be nice to that woman who signs you in, please.)

Here’s a story for you: I was auditioning for a musical at Ripley Grier, and a young man kept eyeing my headshot. I am a pretty private person, and living in New York gives you an edge that you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t want him in my business, but I had two options: to be nice or to be rude. Thank goodness I chose to be nice –turns out he was a director that worked frequently at that theater, and not only vouched for me in that audition, but called me in later that month to read for the leading role in his production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

3. You Need Business Skills

(And I don’t mean it the way Beyonce means it.)

You’ll likely need business skills for your day job. Word Processing, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, answering phones, making appointments, et cetera. I currently serve as an administrative assistant in a facilities office and my business skills are constantly called on. I not only use them for my day job, but for marketing myself as well. I learned how to make my own website and business cards, and can save so much money by making that kind of thing a DIY project! Acting is a craft, but it’s also a business. Have a nice camera? Take headshots for other actors! Know a lot about taxes? Do your own taxes, and help out a few others. Yoga training? Get a few clients and you’ve got a paying gig. Use those skills!

4. You are Your Own Responsibility

(A teacher’s greatest achievement is to become unnecessary.)

Guess what? Your teachers are busy teaching students who are still in school. Now is the time for you to teach you. I would suggest finding a mentor, or keeping a close relationship with someone of authority that can help you with this transition. Reaching out to alumni is an excellent idea. Speak to someone who knows what you’re going through, and who can help you deal with the difference between life in acting school and life after school. This mentor is not responsible for making your schedule, ensuring that you get to work on time, paying your bills, or any of those grown-up things that you didn’t have to worry about in college. You are your own responsibility. If you have work/an audition/a callback/rehearsal/etc. on Monday morning, chances are that you don’t want to go out drinking Sunday night.

Find a warm up and ways to keep studying your craft beyond your degree. Take the initiative to enroll in master classes or even visit the school when you need to. Most importantly, take care of yourself. You only have one body and one life; it has to last you as long as you live. If someone or something is hazardous to your health, stand up for yourself. If you don’t look after yourself, no one else will.

5. It’s Not “Cool” to Warm Up

(But it’s better than being a bad actor!)

I spent a good seven months on tour without the courage to do my warm up, and I suffered. It may have not been cool or hip, but it really wasn’t cool that I couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability. So do what you need to do to be ready for a show. Period. Surround yourself with people that understand that acting is a process and each person has a different one. Find people with acting warm ups you like and use those if you need to.

6. Auditioning is Your Full-Time Job

(Booking the gig is a vacation.)

An alum of the Juilliard Drama Division likes to say, “Auditioning is my full time job. When I book the gig, that’s my vacation.” She means that auditioning is something she’s dedicated to doing most days of the year, and that she’s a professional at it. She knows how to work a room. She also means that when she books a show, that’s maybe 1 out of 100 or more auditions she’s been on. It’s a vacation because she can then do what she wants to do: work on the character, the show, and be with the actors of an ensemble. I think she has a valid point.

7. It’s OK to be Concerned With Paying Your Bills!

(Actors gotta eat!)

I know that when I am running low on funds, I am a cranky, Scrooge-like, miserable person. I also know that I carry a general air of desperation and sorrow around like a blanket, and I can only hide it under specific circumstances. These are the traits that casting directors and agents do not want to deal with. So if you are like me, make sure you have a way of paying your bills! Most acting colleges are expensive. It’s OK to have a day job. It does not take away from your credibility as an actor or your dedication to the craft. Let me repeat: HAVING A DAY JOB DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR CREDIBILITY AS AN ACTOR OR YOUR DEDICATION TO THE CRAFT. Pay those bills, eat healthily, and have “me time.” You’re a human being. We need that.

8. The People Who Have Made It Have Been in the Game Longer Than You Think

(Bryan Cranston. Case dismissed.)

If you think Breaking Bad was Bryan Cranston’s be-all end-all, take a look at his IMDb resume. That thing is extensive. He’s been in everything from Seinfeld to Power Rangers to voice-overs for cartoons. The man has paid his dues, and it has made him the actor he is today. Even young actors like Samira Wiley and Danielle Brooks, two Juilliard alum who currently star in the Netflix smash hit series Orange is the New Black paid their dues. Very few people “make it” straight out of the gate, and those who do should thank whomever or whatever they need to thank.

9. Almost Everyone Can Drive a Car

(So take it off your resume.)

No, they won’t hire you to drive one of the random cars toward the back in the next The Fast and The Furious. They will probably hire a stuntman, whose profession is to drive fast cars at dangerous speeds.

While you’re taking that off, also please remove anything similarly basic. That includes cartwheels, some ballet, beginning French, making coffee, or just for kicks, high kicks. They know, or they will know when they ask you to do it in the call back. And if they ask you to make coffee in the callback, either you’re doing the opening scene from A Raisin in the Sun or you just got hired to be the intern. Either way, enjoy!

10. It’s OK if You Don’t Stick With What You Wanted to Do When You Graduated

(And it’s OK if you do.)

You are your own person. You are your own artist. You are unique, and you are enough.

If you vowed to never do television in the hopes of reviving The Great White Way in the name of straight theater, but your path has led you to the likes of ABC, CBS, NBC, HBO, or anything related to the silver or small screen – great! You’re an actor. Do your thing.

If you vowed to be the next Anne Bogart, but somehow found yourself in the trenches of the Wall Street scene – wonderful! Life is a crazy, beautiful path that takes us where we didn’t expect to be. Embrace the change, and make that Wall Street money!

Don’t let anyone judge your choices – you are the master and commander of your ship. Sail on!

Jasmine B.Jasmine B. teaches speaking voice, stage performance, and acting in New York City. She’s studied acting from a young age, graduating from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and Wright State University’s Professional Actor Training Program. She currently serves as an educational outreach fellow for the Juilliard School.  Learn more about Jasmine here!

 

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5 Acting Warm-Ups & Games to Do Before an Audition

warm ups

Being in the entertainment industry is not much different from being in the sports world. In addition to some natural talent and interest, a huge overlap with both industries is the time spent honing your craft. Of course regular practice is a necessary evil, but come race or audition day, our minds and bodies still need to be prepared for what’s about to happen. Just as we see athletes spending time stretching and warming up before a performance, it’s mandatory that actors warm up before auditioning. Good acting warm up games help you to get into a relaxed, focused space, where you feel ready to go out and nail that performance! There are plenty of fun acting games you can try on your own either in your acting lessons, or before an audition.

To begin, our bodies need to be loose and limber. Here’s a quick checklist to work through:

  • Gently roll your neck backward, forward, and then around (clockwise and anti-clockwise).
  • Roll both shoulders forward and backward to release any nervous energy.
  • Extend your arms and begin to open up your chest. Remember to breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
  • With arms extended, twist your waist side to side.
  • Do a forward bend, dropping your head as far as it can go. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Finally, shake out your entire body starting from your hands.

Now that your body is getting warmer, you can get more playful with these acting warm up games!

Game 1: Energy Ball (for the nerves)

Stand in front of a wall and imagine that you’re gathering your energy in an invisible ball. Really start to feel it pulsating while holding it with both hands in front of you. When it starts to feel too intense, throw it against the wall. Feel it bounce back by leaning your body to receive and pitch it back to the wall. This is an awesome acting warm up game to help you focus your energy and get your body moving.

Game 2: Small Face, Big Face (for great expressions)

Micro-muscle facial control plays a huge part in your ability to express yourself, so it’s important to stretch out your face as well. Start by scrunching up your face like you’ve just eaten something really sour. Get your face as small as you can get it and hold that for 10 seconds. Now stretch your face with the widest, most surprised smile you’ve ever made (like the one you’ll have when you actually book the job you’re auditioning for!). Now hold that for 10 seconds and repeat the whole exercise a few times.

Now that you’re physically warm, it’s time to let your voice be heard. Remember, you don’t have to be a singer to warm up your vocal cords – it’s important that all actors do vocal warm ups before performing.

Game 3: O E (for a strong voice)

Even though it’s far from boring, start this game with a good yawn. Really – have a few wide yawns to open up your mouth and throat. Then start by slowly making exaggerated ‘O’ and ‘E’ sounds. As you repeat the letters, begin to speed up until you run out of breath.

Game 4: Good Buddha (for a flexible tongue)

Tongue twisters are one the best acting warm up games for the entire mouth. You can use the common ones like “Unique New York” or “She sells seashells on the seashore,” but this is one of our favorites for the palette as well as the upper and lower parts of the tongue – try saying, “Gooda, Gooda. Buddha, Buddha.” Repeat and progressively speed up. You can also try this in different tones so you can work on your range.

Finally, we’re sure you’ve spent a great deal of time learning your script and perhaps researching or imagining the character you want to bring to life during your audition, so here’s a fun exercise to throw in at the very end…

Game 5: Theme Song (for the right mood)

Music is a fantastic tool to help you get into the mood of your characters! Based on your understanding of your character, take some time to pick out a theme song for him/her. Answer this question: If your character were a piece of music, what would they sound like? Now process this idea around whether he or she would be modern, instrumental, slow, techno, etc. Once you’ve settled on a song, plug it into your phone or iPod and make sure you listen to it while rehearsing, warming up, and just before you sign into your audition.

Good luck!

 

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How to Draw Caricatures: Pointers From a Professional Artist

Learning How To Draw Caricatures From A Professional As a student of art, you can explore everything from watercolors to sculpting to photography and more! If you’re interested in learning how to draw caricatures (and how to improve your overall creative skills), take a look at these pointers and FAQs from full-time artist Mike V., who teaches in Bridgeport, CT:  

1) What are the steps for drawing caricatures? How does it differ from other types of drawing?

The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with human anatomy, especially facial anatomy. I usually start my students out drawing the skull in front view, 3/4 view, and profile. You’ll need to learn to draw the human face realistically first, in order to then exaggerate facial features. Once you are familiar with facial construction, then you’ll practice drawing both male and female heads at different ages.

The way to then turn the realistic interpretation into a caricature is by first using observation. Study how large the eyes are, compared to other features. Everybody is different. The things to look for are shape, size, distance between the eyes, and color. Even if you are working in black and white, you should study if that person has light or dark eyes; for instance, light blue, green, or grey would be represented in black and white renderings as having the iris just shaded, and not darkened in. The pupils will show more. Dark eyes in black and white drawings are done by coloring in the iris, as the pupil does not show nearly as clearly. Other things to consider are the shape and direction of eyelids, as well as length of eyelashes.

Next, compare the features to one another. Again, everyone is different. If the eyes are prominent, draw them larger. If the nose is on the smaller side, then play it down, or draw it smaller. The same for the lips, ears, forehead, etc. The outer shape of the face is very important. Also the shape and texture of the hair.

DO NOT fall into the misguided ideas that the average person has about how to draw caricatures! This is very important! I have heard: “All you have to capture is the eyes” or  “All you have to do is make the nose big,” for example. These individuals have NO idea what they are talking about. A good caricature plays UP the prominent features, and plays DOWN the non-prominent features. It is a balance between the two, in order to achieve a good likeness.

2.  What kind of jobs can you get as a caricaturist, and how do you find these jobs?

The popularity and entertainment value of caricature is growing. Over the years caricaturists have been hired to work at private and corporate parties and many other events. The types of events where caricaturists are normally hired are: college events, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, store/mall promotions, high school proms/post proms, graduation parties, holiday parties, communion parties, and many other types of events. Also, there are full-time and seasonal jobs for caricaturists, for both professionals and students. These jobs are normally found at theme parks. This is an excellent way to gain experience. There are also opportunities working at fairs and carnivals. The fair jobs sometimes ask for a fee to set up, and you would work retail, charging by the person. The theme park concession companies often have the artists work on commission. At events such as parties, the artists are paid by the hour, just like other party entertainment.

My best career advice is don’t rush into the field. Get your training in how to draw caricatures first. Then apply for a theme park job or other public venue, where you will be constantly drawing people from life, and start to develop your skills. Private art lessons are great, because one-on-one attention from the instructor is the best way to learn. Also, very important to note: Caricatures are published in a wide variety of magazines and other publications, so follow the artwork of an artist that you admire. Get inspiration from accomplished professionals whose work you really like, and keep a collection of samples of their work.

Larry King caricature 23) How can I tell if I’m a good artist?

How do you tell if you have artistic skill? First, start drawing. Practice constantly. Compare your work to other artists’ work. If you meet a professional artist, ask them to take a look at your work and ask for an evaluation. I have been teaching for many years and I often have to evaluate students’ work at the first lesson. There have been many students that I see that do have the potential, and with my instruction and hard work, they have greatly improved. Many have gone on to art careers. Also, you are never too old to learn. I teach ALL ages, from young children to seniors. Many have become accomplished. Hard work and the right attitude are key.

4) What will I learn in one-on-one art lessons? How do they differ from taking classes with a group?

One-on-one lessons give you a unique advantage. I draw detailed demonstrations that you can watch me draw close-up. You can also keep each sketch I do, which is not the case with group lessons. More time is given to the individual to observe a professional at work. Seeing the finished product, then observing me working and having the student draw along with me is a unique opportunity to learn.

Mike V

With 38 years of experience, Mike V. teaches private lessons in cartooning, drawing , watercolor, acrylic, and oil painting. He worked as a caricaturist at two of the Disney theme parks. He has also created numerous syndicated comic strips and comic books, and has drawn for DC comics. Learn more about Mike here!

 

 

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