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  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

I remember a time when social media was pretty much limited to letters to the editor of the local newspaper. There was no thought about Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok (what the hell is Tik Tok?). Someone once made the point that he was thankful to be old because there’s no proof of the crazy things he did in his youth. I concur…for reasons no one will ever know!

Now we have all those social media apps mentioned in the foregoing, and probably some I’m not familiar with. The question now comes, is social media helpful to the actor?

Well, yes…and no.

Social media is very important in that it allows you to network with other actors, promote your brand, share advice, support fellow actors, and share your latest achievements. There are several Facebook pages for the various regions in our country that are designed for the actor. You can request to join them and network with your fellow actors.

A word of advice. Be careful that you are sharing and not grand-standing. Continually posting the same “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” will not win many friends. I have also seen several Facebook pages specifically for actors where an actor will constantly post the link to his/her IMDb page to get others to link to it. The idea of constantly posting that link is to boost their Starmeter ranking which, in my opinion, indicates they are not a professional actor (See my blog on the IMDb Starmeter).

Casting Directors do check on our social media. This gives them an idea of who we are and how we may behave and interact with others on set. If all you do is post negative material, you may be labeled as a negative person and difficult to work with. Avoid being argumentative. If someone writes something offensive to you, just continue scrolling or block that individual. Do not get caught up in a Facebook or Twitter war.

Beth Melsky is a respected Casting Director in New York and has been in the business for many years. She writes an excellent blog about cleaning up your social media that I would strongly recommend actors read.

Remember, what you post on social media reflects who you are.

Be the best!

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  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

I had the honor many years ago of working with a professional British actor who was brilliant on stage. As we became better acquainted, he admitted to me that he was painfully shy around other people. This was a shock to me since I thought he had it all together and nothing scared him. What I learned from him was a very valuable lesson. As shy as he was, he did not feel it necessary to seek anyone’s approval. As a result, when he performed, his unique self came through and he shined as the character.

Another actor I got to know on a personal level (didn't get the opportunity to work with him) was Jack Palance. Jack is well-known for winning the Oscar for his role in the film, "City Slickers". You may remember him doing the one-handed push up on stage when accepting the Oscar. You may be surprised to learn that Jack was a shy man as well. He played villains and tough guys in films, but had a very soft side and was an accomplished artist. He certainly didn't seek approval. He did it his way, and was a success for many years.

This was hard for me to understand since I constantly wanted to know what others thought of my performance. But what I learned over the years is that seeking approval is not healthy for an actor.

We keep hearing from acting coaches and casting directors to “take chances”, “make it your own”, “have fun with it”…etc. etc. The question is, how is that possible if we’re concerned about what others think of us as actors?

It’s not.

I believe being concerned about what people think of us is a part of human nature. However, this can be detrimental to the actor. Further, trying to be like someone else ruins us as actors. You may be a fan of a certain actor but trying to be like him/her simply does not work.

One of my favorite actors, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, is Christoph Waltz. In my opinion, his work in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” was nothing short of brilliant. However, as good as his work is, he cannot be me.

We are each unique human beings. Nobody is like us. Each of us offers something different. When we try to copy someone else’s work, I believe we become boring. A good example is when actors will use as a monologue the court scene from “A Few Good Men” and try to copy Jack Nicholson. The fact is, Jack Nicholson is the only one who can be Jack Nicholson.

When given the opportunity to audition, I feel it is important to make choices and, after doing research on the material, make it our own. If I don’t take chances I will not grow.

A few years ago, I was invited to audition for a lead role in a film that aired on a popular cable channel. I had little information on the role except what was in the two-page sides. I made a choice as to how the character was to be played…a very friendly old man. Nope. The character was in fact somewhat of a curmudgeon. Nevertheless, I was invited to a callback and received a redirect in advance. I then played the role differently and booked the role.

Of course, we’re not always successful in auditions…that’s the nature of the business. However, when we bring our uniqueness to the audition, it gives the Casting Director something no one else has brought.

Check out another blog on this page about unique life experiences and how important that is to us as actors.

Be your unique self!

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  • Writer's pictureRay Watters

So, you prepared for the audition and your hard work helped get you the booking. Congratulations! Now the work begins. Maybe you have a small part with few lines making memorization an easy task. Or, you may have a major part with several scenes and a lot of lines. How do you prepare?

Know your lines.

Yes. The key for me is to be prepared. Memorizing lines is a bit difficult for me. I don’t know if it’s age-related, but whatever the reason, I have to work harder than many. When I book a role and get a script, I read it in its entirety. I then take the pages with my scenes and highlight my lines in yellow. I read my lines…out loud…over and over again. I then take one page at a time and learn the lines on that page. I go to the second one and learn those lines…and so on. I put them all together.

When I feel I have the lines somewhat to memory, I record the other character's lines on the Voice Memos app on my iPhone. I leave blank spaces where my lines would be. I then play the recording and speak my lines in the blank spaces. I speak my lines without punctuation. No emotion. I do the same for an audition when I am given the sides to a script and it’s not a cold read.

When I think I have my lines down, I continue playing the recording…over and over…until I know them forward and backward.

Yes…with all the foregoing, I have still dropped a line on occasion. It happens. I’ve watched it happen to famous actors as well.

Knowing my lines forward and backward is a great benefit since it allows me to be creative and work off the other’s dialogue rather than be concerned about mine.

One note on auditions (preparing for an audition is the subject of another blog)...when you leave that audition room, leave the audition behind. It does no good to lament about why you didn't do something different. I like to practice what other professionals actors do...that is, simply do not get anxious over the outcome of the audition since it is out of my control. I have seen so many actors excited about the outcome of an audition, only to be disappointed. Professional actors understand rejection is part of the business.

Not getting stressed about an audition also allows me to have fun.

So...have fun!

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