Are you using your full palette of emotions on auditions or are you playing it safe by using only the familiar ones? It’s your job to give the best performance possible at every given opportunity. It’s not easy to breathe life into words on a page and make the characters come to life. Acting is a challenging profession. Don’t limit your ability to give a great performance because you are unable to access your full range of emotions. Emotional range is like a crayon box. When you’ve got the jumbo 120 crayon box available, you have so many choices at your fingertips to color your pictures brilliantly. Don’t restrict your possibilities by only using 3 crayons. In the words of Ru Paul, “Don’t be afraid to use all the colors in the crayon box.” Remember, the more emotions available to you the more powerful of an actor you will be.
Fear is limiting–in life and in acting. If you stay a prisoner of your fear, you limit the possibilities of soaring towards the highest levels of your experience. When you can’t access your full range of emotions, your performances invite critics to say things like -“The characters change, but never really develop. It felt like each character played only one note. The characters lacked depth. The play sidesteps dramatic possibilities. Ouch! Reviews like these are painful to receive. But, don’t let critics get you down, instead use what they say as fuel to get better at what you do. You always have choices.
Actors are in the emotions business, so are psychotherapists. We’re in the business of understanding them and you’re in the business of displaying them. Therefore, it needs to be clear that they are an asset, not a deficit. Learn to work with your emotions, rather than trying to get rid of them. Especially the difficult ones like fear, insecurity, self-doubt, loneliness, and heartache; the audience needs to identify with your difficult emotions in order to feel connected to your performance. Powerful performances are healing.
Be smart, understand your boo-boos. We all have them – areas where we feel sensitive and self-protective because of past pain. Make the investment in knowing yourself really well. Tapping into unhealed childhood pain for your performances is not a good idea until you get professional help first. Otherwise, you will find yourself avoiding certain roles because you feel the need to protect yourself. There are probably good reasons why you feel blocked around some emotions – respect that. Try not to get frustrated with yourself, instead do a gentle investigation so you can understand what it’s all about. Acting class is not a substitute for therapy. Visit your dark places and scary spaces with a professional before opening yourself up to unchartered territory. This is especially important around issues involving any kind of trauma. Going into trauma alone can be re-traumatizing. If you would like to do some interesting and informative reading on the subject of trauma, read: “Waking The Tiger –Healing Trauma,” by Peter A. Levine. It’s helpful to understand the dynamics of trauma, and the steps needed to heal it.
It’s your responsibility to take good care of your emotional life. If you do, it will serve you well in your acting career. When you come prepared to work, having done your homework on yourself and ready to tap into your full emotional palette, your performances will come from a place of strength. Actors are storytellers. Tell your story in full living color!
Authentic connection is at the core of our happiness. If we do not experience relationships that are mutually empowering and attuned we suffer.
Join a circle of trust that provides a safe place to explore and learn about your emotions. The group is facilitated by Bonnie Katz, MFT who has 15 years of group experience and training. Learn about the emotions that are causing you difficulty in your personal and professional life.
Bonnie Katz is an active member of The American Group Psychotherapy Association and a former board member of The Group Psychotherapy Association of Los Angeles,
Free phone consultation to discuss your goals and see if group therapy is a good fit for you right now.
I’ve created The Conscious Actor Inspiration Journal; to help actors develop awareness of what inspires them. Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to help keep you strong minded. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Samuel French Bookshop
Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.