• Ray Watters

Full disclosure: Acting is an art…or a craft (whether it’s one or the other is still debated), not a science. There are many approaches to reach the same objective…good acting. What I write in this blog is based on my experience and my opinion. I have found there are as many opinions as there are actors and what works for one may not work for another.


I have been trained by several acting teachers/coaches and have read several books on the craft. What I have discovered is that there are not only several methods, but disagreements on how one should learn the craft (or art as Stella Adler would describe it). Some teachers such as Lee Strasberg place emphasis on the internal while Sanford Meisner would emphasize the external. Strasberg taught sense memory and Stella Adler felt sense memory was dangerous to one’s psyche.


So, what has worked for me? Well, that is what this is about.


I am a follower of Sanford Meisner. Meisner taught being real in imaginary circumstances and placed emphasis on the other actor through his repetition exercises. I find it best to memorize my lines without emotion so I can react according to the other person. I recommend his book, Sanford Meisner On Acting, and recommend taking Meisner classes.


Another technique is not one for the actor, but for the Director that nevertheless benefits the actor. This is The Travis Technique Master Class. Rather than asking me to define my character, or how my character should behave, the Director would talk directly to the character and question the character. This is the Interrogation Process. There is also a peer to peer interrogation as well. In short, the emphasis is on the character rather than the actor. I am still learning this technique and hope to use it in future projects.


There are several books that I have found very helpful, even though I don’t agree with a few authors on some issues. An example is Ivana Chubbuck’s, The Power of the Actor. While I find the first three “tools” (Overall Objective, Scene Objective, and Obstacles) to be helpful, she lost me at the fourth tool, Substitution. Substitution involves sense memory, which I agree with Adler can be dangerous.


Other books I recommend include Psychology for Actors written by Kevin Page (he shot J.R. in “Dallas”) and The Art of Acting by Stella Adler. Auditioning for television and film is very different from acting and I highly recommend The Organic Actor, by Lori S. Wyman, C.S.A.


Let me repeat…the foregoing are my opinions based on my experience and what works for me.


Find what works for you.

54 views0 comments
  • Ray Watters

Friends have asked me what’s the difference between a star, co-star, guest star, etc. So, here’s the answer as I have learned. For now, I am only going to talk about television credits.


Credits differ in film and television and are listed separately on an actor’s resume. This is because in the past, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) were separate unions. SAG-AFTRA is now one union, however, credits are still different and listed separately.


The lead in a television series is known as a Series Regular. This actor is in the main cast and appears in most, if not all, episodes and is central to the story.


A Guest Star is an actor who appears in one or more episodes and is an important part of the story. In many cases, the guest star is a named actor.


Now we come to the Co-star. A person with this title usually appears in one or two scenes, and, while important in the episode, is not really central to the story.


There are clear differences in pay between a Guest Star and Co-Star (sometimes referred to as a Day Player), but that’s a subject for a different blog.


In film and television, there are the background people, most referred to as Extras. These hard-working folks, while having no speaking parts, play a very important role. Without the pedestrians, office workers, people in the audience, etc., there would be no realism.


While Extras are, sadly, considered at the bottom of the food chain, their pay is nothing to sneeze at. A Commercial Extra who is a member of the performer’s union, SAG-AFTRA, makes around $342.00 a day. However, Commercial Extras do not get residual pay, i.e., pay for the amount of time the commercial airs.



A word of advice: When listing your credits on a resume, it is recommended to not list your roles as an extra. I have seen people fluff up an extra role to make it look like something else, but it still reads the same. I have also seen people use the term, “Series Regular” or “Series Regular Extra” when they have been an extra in several episodes. This reads “amateur” and will not further your career.

9 views0 comments

How many times have you seen a role listed that really looked promising, only to see one of the following phrases, “deferred”, “big opportunity”, “food and credit”, “student film”, “spec”, etc. Those phrases all translate to… “no pay”.


In my beginning as an actor, I worked several gigs for no financial reward, however, I learned that I did, indeed, receive compensation for my efforts…compensation that may not have been financial, but worth more than just money.


In acting class, you learn through scene study and working with another actor. You pay the coach quite a bit of money for this. In a non-paid gig, you learn the same thing, and have more opportunity to practice. In short, you are getting an acting class for free!


Another reason is that new actors usually need to show some experience in addition to their training. Working a student film or other non-paid gig allows the new actor to add it to their resumé which makes them more appealing to a talent agent.


One of the biggest reasons I had for doing non-paid gigs was the contacts I was able to make in the industry which helped me in future projects.


I no longer accept non-paid work, but I am thankful for the opportunities I had in the past that allowed me to be where I am today in my craft.