When I decided to nudge my career along a different path at the start of this year and focus more on acting than music theatre, I began to go to as many workshops as I could with Casting Directors for film & TV. As an actor, the CD can be your greatest ally or your biggest door to crack open when it comes to getting work. They’re the first step on the path to getting booked, the people in charge of collating the hundreds of people suitable for a job and culling that list down to the final few to present to the creative team. I’ve found that as a rule, they are lovely, supportive, crazily hard working people and they deserve every ounce of credit they get.
After a few of these workshops, I started to see a trend in the feedback I was receiving-
“What a strong performance”
“You were really in control”
What I was hearing was – I was too ‘theatre’, I had planned out too much of my performance, I was too ‘in control’.
I wasn’t allowing myself to be vulnerable enough.
Vulnerability is such a great asset on screen. And I think in life, too. Vulnerability, it’s the heart of the truth of who we are. The vulnerability of you doubting something, it’s usually based around a fear of showing who you truly really are. You put on some sort of bravado or mask or something – Chris Hemsworth
Vulnerability is hard! It’s hard as a person, and it’s hard as an actor. I don’t want to let down my guard and reveal anything. I definitely don’t want to admit that I have doubts about something, or if my mental state is less than great. And maybe that’s what makes vulnerability so powerful.
As a human, it can feel necessary to build up an armour to protect ourselves from anything that might try to derail us. As an actor, it’s easier to feel confident if I’ve planned out every second of the audition I’m about to give. But is it really better?
Is it better not to admit when something is hurting us, and we need help? Or to tuck away our laughter rather than expose crooked teeth, double chins, or the way a snort can sometimes sneak in? (or maybe that’s just me).
It has been terrifying for me as an actor to leave my performance open and vulnerable to what could happen -terrifying, and much, much more interesting. My performances are no longer described as ‘strong’ or ‘in control’. I’m ‘interesting’ and ‘very talented’ (this one still makes my stomach flip, thanks amazingly generous CD). I can listen and react like a real person, and weirdly, if something goes wrong that’s okay. I was open. I gave it my all. I was human. Don’t you want to try it?