Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Who are you?

It's enough to make a (camera) acting coach pull her hair out, bang her head against the wall and pull her ear lobes down to her shoes.

I've said it one million times, so here goes 1,000,001.

The more you know yourself, the better you can portray other people/characters.

When casting directors and others hiring actors for a role, commercial spokesperson, reality-based work (weather forecaster, sportscaster) or show host - they are looking for you.


Not the person who has already done it, not the "type of person" you've seen doing the work.

They are looking for someone who is genuinely themselves - people who are authentic connect with an audience on a person to person level. As yourself, whoever you are, you are original.

They/we (me as a director) are looking for people who act, not actors who act. People who have experienced life and joy and defeat and frustration and love and anger and-

The problem is: even after I tell people this, when they audition for these terrific gigs, they fall back on trying to look and sound like all the other people they've seen do similar work, overthinking or overanalyzing.



But, what happens in too many cases, is that the performer auditioned hasn't nailed down who they are before auditioning for anything, so they rely on trying to be - or behave like - others they've seen doing a similar character or the same job.

It's fine to research, analyze and intellectualize all you want before you turn your performance completely over to your gut.

It's crucial that, in this career (acting, producing, directing, performing), you know who you are. When you do, the rollercoaster experiences that come with the business of show -- or one's personal life -- aren't nearly as nerve-wracking because you have a firm foundation of peace and stability within yourself.

Another reason to know who you are is to establish your true identity in order to deal with the success sure to follow if you're devoted to your craft and dedicated to continue growing in your life and your work.

I have seen so many people who begin to enjoy a degree of success sabotage themselves in a million different ways - all based on not dealing with taking the time to discover who they are as well as the demons they are too afraid to face.

Many stories of the people who have undone blossoming careers thanks to refusing to deal with themselves, their fears and identity issues are seen on the E! TV's Blvd of Broken Dreams.

But it starts much earlier. I've coached people to express themselves as they truly would, which is great, and yet when they step in front of the camera or perform at an audition? They revert to bizarre ideas of what they "should" do, totally confounding me.

Why did they do it?

Sure enough, they say they wanted to sound "warmer," (um, thinking you want to sound "warm" keeps you in your mind and keeps you away from your gut, which is where your performance needs to emanate). Or they wanted to sound like they thought a host "should." Or a commercial spokesperson they've seen.

Believe it or not, the way we want you to sound and come across?

Is just to be you.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Speak from your heart and gut.

Without trying.

Any time an actor tries to sound a certain way, with a certain emotion for the camera? It does not work. As in, ever.

You must simply be that emotion or you come across as false. As acting. And it doesn't work for the camera.

Funnily, it normally takes a lot of work to understand how to simply "be" for the camera.

But a great place to start? Is by understanding and knowing you. Who you are. What makes you tick.

I've always said the way we deal with fear defines who we are. Who we are is also defined by how we react to everything and everyone in our lives.

The only way we find out is to be aware of those things: how do you deal with fear? React to everything and everyone in your life?

Deal is, once you know who you really are? All the other stuff is just that - stuff and, as the Beatles said, "Nothing to get hung about." Nothing to destroy a life or a career about.

Be yourself and you stand out - that's your "hook," that's what makes you special.

But remember - you have to know yourself in order to be yourself!

Go for it!


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