Acting— taking our layers off, getting into our true authentic self. Allowing our true emotions to show. There is no hiding. If you want it to be real, there is no hiding. Allow vulnerability. This is about YOU in these particular circumstances. This is about what your truth brings to this role. Bringing the character to you through empathy. The emotions you feel when you empathize with your character in this circumstance— this is what you bring FULLY. Let go, and let those feelings out.
For me, the challenge is allowing it. Feeling okay with allowing my vulnerability to show in front of people I might not even know. But, reminding myself that it’s safe to do so. This is what people want to see...when it’s real, it’s inspiring. I tend to be emotional, but don’t really enjoy showing my emotions to the world. I’m learning to take those layers off, and feel okay with it. I remind myself to release concern with the thoughts and judgements of others, because that will be the death of a good performance. Trust and allow that your truth will be enough to make the performance “good.” Not everyone will agree with your take, but that’s okay. It's true that what you bring to a particular role might not be in alignment with the creative direction of the project, but art isn’t about everyone agreeing or liking the same thing. It’s about YOU bringing YOU to this role. Nothing else. If you hide, I promise you can guarantee a performance where your “acting is showing.” If you get what I mean…
So how am I getting in my own way of ME bringing ME to my roles? It’s my goal to inspire others with truth, but what I realized this week is that my truth is also the very thing I’m afraid of. Funny how that works! I was in the middle of delivering a performance from a piece that is super real and raw—it’s all about showing these emotions, when my acting coach stops me...
“what are you feeling?”
I then started to explain how I was feeling using the character.
“No, what are YOU feeling…where do you feel this in your body, and what are you feeling?”
Well, shit—now I gotta get REAL in front of people I don’t really know too well and tell them my true personal emotion and where I’m feeling it in my body. Uncomfortable alert! At first, I said my heart because I was being shy about it and just wanting to say something—but my coach being a total badass called me out on it.
“Are you sure?” skeptically.
That’s when I was like….no, I’m feeling it in my gut (solar plexus for those into the WOO, bc I totally am). She asked again…
“What are you feeling?”
“Scared.” Me, Allison Boyd, was feeling scared.
“What does scared feel like?” She replied.
“…and what does that feel like?”
No response—I have no idea how to explain what vulnerable feels like.
“the fact that it’s hard is the point…. now use that fear and vulnerability and express the lines on the page.”
WHOA. Yeah. That’s it. I know damn well what this scene needs—it needs my absolute truth as a human being empathizing with this other human being (the character), and showing those emotions of empathy. BUT, that was the EXACT thing I was afraid to show, thus me getting in my own way of giving the inspiring performance to the audience. For fuckstakes, give them what they want to see, woman!! I told myself. Why am I so afraid??
Well this is a very good question and one that I reflected on. Giving the audience what they need to believe isn’t about you taking on the emotions of the character, and hiding yourself. That's like being a costume character at Disneyland. We can see that’s Mickey Mouse, but we know it’s not real and there’s a person hiding in there. This is about showing your person and the emotions that you feel personally when you empathize with being in the situation. That’s not separate from yourself. That is you. After reflecting—I realized something about myself. An ‘A-HA’ moment if you will (thanks, Oprah). I’ve been scared to show my emotions and truth to people because I feel like I need permission before I show it. It’s like…I need permission to feel what I’m feeling. I need others to tell me it’s okay before I go there. I suppress my emotions because I’m too concerned about making others comfortable rather than making my own self comfortable. I’m GIVING AWAY MY POWER.
When I was reading that scene and delivering that dialogue—I was feeling sad and wanting to cry. AKA my emotional response when empathizing with the character was to cry. I was in a circumstance in which my brother, who was my best friend, was off at war and there was a very real possibility he was never coming back. The screenplay direction didn’t say to cry, nobody told me to do it…. So, I judged that choice and suppressed it. I didn’t have the ‘permission’ that I wanted in order to make it more comfortable to let that show. But, by needing permission from others, I give away all the power and sacrifice my own power of calling the shots and making the choice for myself. This also blocks me from delivering the raw and real performance and does a disservice to the audience. Not my intention.
I do also want to mention that this is in my own preparation as an actor and for auditions. I do understand that when working creatively with a director, and producers it is important to also listen to their input on what choices are right for the character. That’s the beauty of artistic collaboration and minds coming together to create art. However, you have to allow your own choices for the audition. They have to know what you are capable of doing and what they have to work with. Don’t suppress what you want to bring to the role because you’re playing it safe and too concerned about being the right choice for them. I promise that will only lead to a bland performance. Bring your truth! It’s what they really want. If they want to see something else, trust they will give you direction.
I am grateful for the ‘a-ha’ moment because it gives me clarity on a part of me that can grow to get better. I’m choosing now to release my need for permission (in acting, and in real life), and I come into my own personal power now. I respect the way I feel and I allow that to flow through me and the written dialogue so that others can feel moved by the performance. I'm in no way perfect at this, but I acknowledge that with this realization it allows me to get better and better. (which is so exciting!) This is a great feeling, and I thank myself for allowing the uncomfortable actions that it took to come to this moment.
I end with a little saying that is told to me often. All the good stuff is on the other side of fear. Let go and trust the loving flow of life.
If this helped or inspired in anyway, please let me know by sending me a DM, tag me in a post, or share this blog. Many blessings to everyone!
P.S. Reminding any of my readers that I’m offering my time for online line reading/ audition prep. This is great service for those who need to read lines for an audition, but you don't have the time to go out and find someone. All of it is offered through Skype or FaceTime! Happy to help you get those lines down and bring any other knowledge that might assist you! Drop me a DM in my Instagram (@allie2689) for more information.