Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

Actor In Mind, Body And Soul.

Welcome to 2011.   It’s a new year and it’s all about you.  Meaning to be successful and to give yourself the best fighting chance, you have to take care of yourself in body, mind and soul. Pursuing acting is a long-term commitment that nurtures your soul.  If it did not, why would you do it?

As a Casting Director and a teacher, I respect that being an actor is a demanding job that tests you both physically and mentally. In this article, I would like to address the body, mind and soul in a way that supports your acting. Write down your goals for each subject (body, mind and soul) and research.  You will find the answers for yourself, as there are a lot of resources available to you. 

Besides being the best actor you can be, you have to travel to auditions, wait, feel strong and healthy and have stamina on set.  Let’s not forget about your voice.  Do you know how to breathe in very long sentences, pace yourself to deliver long paragraphs and scenes with ease?  Can you concentrate on memorizing lines and making changes as cued by the Director?  Your mind has to be sharp.  I heard a Director ask the actor who was reading a magazine in the scene to look up on the third word, turn the page on the 5th word, walk forward on the second sentence and look at the page again on the last word of that sentence.  The actor listened, digested the information and did it.  Wow, that takes a sharp mind!

MIND.  You need to get to a place of feeling and staying confident and not get in the way of yourself.  I deal with that in my “acting in television commercial” workshop, as well as do many acting teachers  in their on-going acting training.   Find workshops and seminars to develop and support not getting in your own way.

According to Robert & Michelle Colt of the seminar “Acting Success Now”, There are three main places people get stuck in relation to being in their own way. The first is on a thinking level, which includes thought patterns, identities, beliefs and belief systems.

The second place people get stuck is on an emotional level. Often, either their fear, anxiety, shyness or anger gets in their way. It’s very challenging to be at your best at an audition or on set if you’re stuck in a state of fear, anxiety or anger.

A third way people get stuck is in relation to taking effective actions. Effective action taking is in direct relation to what’s going on in an actor’s thinking and emotional states. Robert and Michelle utilize brain science, quantum physics, and Eastern thought as a core of Acting Success Now. Robert continues, “The brain and nervous system play a HUGE part in having acting success, or any success for that matter. The bulk of our mental habits, in regards to success, have been wired into our brain between the ages of three and seven. This early conditioning runs mostly unconscious now, and depending on how lucky you were or not, determines much of the results you’re currently getting. There are also other unconscious programs that are built in to our brain/nervous system and arise before the age of three. The reason we don’t know they exist is because they are deeply unconscious. And you can’t let go of something until you know what it is.”

Quantum physics, along with Eastern thought, is a key player in understanding the nature of emotions, and in getting out of your own way on an emotional level. Eastern thought also gives the clearest and most accurate description of the nature of thoughts. Unless we understand their nature, we can’t apply the correct and most effective techniques in dealing with thoughts. Neuroscience opens our eyes to the wiring of thought patterns and habits, and it is critical for actors and all artists to know the two main functions of the nervous system and how it effects you in this very moment. Acting Success Now is a workshop that gives you powerful insights and tools to change your habits of getting in your own way so you can have the highest probability of living your dreams.

BODY.  I’m not talking about a perfect body in weight or a particular shape.  I’m talking about feeling strong and healthy. You need strength for possible long days, drives and waits, hot or cold outdoor shoots, and repeating lines over and over again. Gain stamina however you can.  Exercise, weights, stretching, palates, yoga.  Watching what you eat so you do not feel sluggish is another consideration.  The body also includes how you move and your posture.  Check out Alexander Technique.

Master teacher of the technique, Jean-Louis Rodriques has this to say: The Alexander Technique is now recognized over the world as the most revolutionary and far-reaching method developed for maintaining the health and efficiency of the body and the whole person. F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) realized that education must consider not what is done to us, but what we do to ourselves. His technique does not consist of exercises, focusing on getting it right, or “trying harder”; rather it helps us observe how we do all that we do. As Alexander wrote: “It is what man does that brings the wrong thing about, first with himself and then in his activities in the outside world. – it is only by preventing this “doing” that he can ever begin to make any real change.”

An Alexander student learns to identify those habits of thought and movement that create strain (which Alexander called the ‘misuse of the self’). He learns to reorganize himself by freeing his head and neck and by lengthening and widening his back, allowing the entire organism to function with greater ease. Everyday habits are magnified many times over in performance; therefore, it is important for the student to learn how to”re-think in the moment” over a wide range of activities, minimizing needless tensions and restoring energy in daily life, as well as in performance. This learning process is fundamental and crucial to the development of the young actor and the creative life and the maintenance of the professional actor.

Good use of the self is characterized by an overall pattern of economy and freedom of movement. It means, for example, using no more and no less tension than necessary for the use of the voice in a monologue or creating a character, or having the time to breathe with the phrase. The F.M. Alexander Technique develops skills that prevent useless habits and self-defeating ideas, all the while awakening the student to his remarkable capacity for change and growth.

SOUL.  To be a successful actor you really have to believe in yourself, believe in what you want.   However you can, soul search to find ways to connect with your inner most happiness.  According to actor Peter Trencher, “It’s a spiritual thing.  Something transcends your every day experience.  It’s connecting to a higher power.  You give up the control and let things come through you and let them happen.”

Are you an actor in body, mind and soul?

Sign up for the Berland Casting newsletter or to communicate any subjects you would like covered. Click here for more info on Terry’s workshops.

Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,“Breaking Into Commercials”.


Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.

Sign up for the Berland Casting newsletter or to communicate any subjects you would like covered. Click here for more info on Terry’s workshops.

Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”

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