top of page
  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

Many years ago, a friend's daughter received a notice in the mail that a talent agency in Los Angeles was looking for future stars. It included an invitation for her to come to their agency and audition. Excited for the opportunity to be an actor, she talked her parents into taking her to the audition.

When they showed to the "audition", they were joined by a large number of eager young people anxious to get their big break in the business. My friend's daughter posed for photos and was interviewed for the camera.

A few minutes later, the daughter and parents were ushered into a room where they were told the young lady had star potential and the agency could help her by having professional headshots done along with acting classes...both from their agency. Happily, the parents saw the red flags and went no further. Not so happily, too many fall for this glam scam and find themselves thousands of dollars poorer with nothing to show for it except empty promises.

I will repeat what I have stated many times...THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS IN THIS BUSINESS!

Film Florida has published a pair of "one sheets" for actors and crew members to provide guidance in avoiding scams in our business. I am enclosing the one sheet for actors, since this website is for actors. Crew members can find their one sheet HERE.

4 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

Three score and seven years ago, my 8th grade music teacher handed me sheet music to “The Dream of Olwen” (Charles Williams, Composer) and suggested I should perform this on the piano with the school orchestra at the annual school music festival. One look at the music sent pangs of self-doubt through me and I felt this was not only a difficult task, but a near impossible one as well. I had been taking piano lessons since the age of eight and was considered a pretty good musician for someone my age, although I didn’t believe it. Nevertheless, I practiced the piece for weeks alone, and with the orchestra, and successfully performed it at the festival. That should have been a lesson that I am capable of more than I thought.

It wasn't.

I was not raised in the most supportive household and self-doubt was so rampant in my life that it led me to give up the piano at the age of eighteen…self-sabotage at its finest.

Years later, the idea of becoming an actor intrigued me, however, I took no action for the same reason…I simply didn’t feel I was good enough.

My self-esteem received a much needed boost during my time in the military since I accomplished much more than I thought capable and, as a result, years later I decided to leave my comfort zone and audition for a play being produced in our community. I booked a lead role and immediately had to memorize many pages of dialogue. Another impossible task I thought, yet despite my self-doubt, I accomplished it.

I learned that my self-doubt had been standing in the way of success and that I was engaging in self-sabotage. At that point, I made the decision to continue leaving my comfort zone and try to accomplish those things I used to dream about. This led to years doing live radio and hosting a regional television program…two things I once thought would never happen. I was accomplishing things I never thought I could do! Nevertheless, I was hit with another malady…a malady commonly known as the Imposter Syndrome.

During my time in radio and television, I received compliments from others and was even nominated for a press club award two years in a row. I received a proclamation from our city council honoring me for my support in the community. I was honored by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army for my efforts in supporting their missions. These awards take up space on the wall of a room in my house and should be a reminder that I have done well.

Should, but not always.

There were times I felt I would soon be discovered as a phony…a fake...and that all my accomplishments were the result of dumb luck…being in the right place at the right time. In short, I was a poster boy for the Imposter Syndrome.

It has taken time, but I have managed to overcome my self-doubt by accepting that I will never rise above being human and that I am OK just the way I am…warts and all. I can stop trying to be a perfectionist in order to live up to what I feel others expect of me. I have had to separate the facts of my accomplishments from my feelings of self-doubt. Most of all, it has been a relief to learn that most people on occasion have experienced the same self-doubt.

It has taken time…way too much time ‘cause I am now 80 years old. But, damn…I’m having fun!

Accept who you are and have fun!

101 views1 comment
  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

More than fifty years have passed since I had the honor of meeting the brilliant pianist and comedian, Victor Borge, when I visited Copenhagen, Denmark. Borge was affectionately known as The Clown Prince of Denmark and anyone who watched this wonderful entertainer perform no doubt can remember some of his act…turning sheet music upside down and playing it backwards; stating that Chopin’s Minute Waltz can be used as an egg timer, and more. One bit in his act was his use of phonetic punctuation. He would take a page from a book and read the words, adding a vocal sound effect for every period, comma, exclamation mark, etc. The result would have the audience roaring with laughter. This brings me to the subject of how an actor uses punctuation when using sides in an audition.

Punctuation is important when we read and write to clearly convey the meaning in written words. When reading out loud and coming to a period, we use a downward inflection in the voice and an upward inflection if there is a question mark, a pause for the comma, and more. However, I have seen actors deliver lines with clear punctuation…maybe not like Victor Borge…but one can clearly tell where the periods, commas, and other marks are. In my opinion, this is not good acting. Punctuation marks in your audition sides are there for a reason, however, they can also be traps that can hinder your performance.

Acting is not about just memorizing and saying the words. If that were the case, everyone could be actors. To quote Sanford Meisner, “Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” When I get the sides for an audition, I look at my character’s breakdown and determine his importance to the scene and story. Then, from the sides and using the POV of the character, ask what I am trying to achieve; what are my obstacles; and what I am doing to overcome these obstacles. I look at the other character’s dialogue in the same way.

When it comes to the question mark, I determine what the writer is trying to convey in the question. Am I angry? Sarcastic? Frustrated? Too many times, an actor will see the question mark and assume the vocal inflection should be up at the end of the dialogue. Depending on your natural way of speaking, it could be that way, or not.

Another common trap is the exclamation point. Many feel this indicates you should speak louder. Not true. This could indicate surprise, frustration, anger, but does not mean you should automatically raise your voice. This is the same for the “All CAPS” trap. Again, it does not mean you should always speak loudly. It’s important to note the character’s intent. Is he trying to make a point by emphasizing a word or sentence in a clear manner, but not raising the volume?

There is another trap that is not punctuation, but a word…BEAT. Without knowing why, some actors will pause their dialogue for one or two seconds and continue. If you’re not emoting the meaning of the beat, then you have given no reason for the beat to be there. It does not have to be a long pause at all, but show that the character may have lost his train of thought and cannot think of the right word, or perhaps is experiencing an emotion. The same goes for the ellipsis (…). In short, when you see the word “beat”, or an ellipsis, determine why it’s there. There are many more traps in audition sides (stage direction, emotional, physical) that an actor should question why they are there.

In my opinion, actors who fall into these traps and just read the words without making informed choices are destined to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride (OK…I know that was sexist. Just deal with it).

And now for the caveat. What I have written is my opinion based on my training and my experience. You may have another method that works for you.

Do what works for you.

114 views0 comments
bottom of page