ACTING 101 - Transition
- Written by Paris Hepburn
Transition. Wouldn’t it be great to have grown up acting? Well not really. Many child actors find it difficult to transition from child actor to more adult roles. The acting career certainly takes a different turn once an actor reaches the age of eighteen. The difference is night and day.
Expectations for child actors is lower than that for adult actors. Children can get away with a lot more than their adult counterparts. Children are not expected, or asked, to do much as a child. Mostly what is asked of them it to be cute and be themselves. Casting directors are always looking for those cute adorable children that fit that perfect childlike role. By the time the actor reaches adulthood roles, the requirements and expectations are more demanding from the actor.
In essence, a child has the same kind of growing maturity as other children. They are self-conscious, easily intimidated and not necessarily mature. Children don’t have enough life experience to weather setbacks or criticism. Being critiqued and criticized can be difficult to accept. The continual rejection over and over again is difficult for adults let alone children. Because of a child’s emotional immaturity, they aren’t prepared to handle the public and frequent failure, especially if fame and adulation came easily for them when they started out. For the adult actor who are seasoned actors, they find it difficult to handle rejection and criticism also. Emotionally sensitive kids end up addicted to drugs, acquire eating problems, acting out, break the law or engage in other antisocial behavior. All of these can cost the child actor numerous job opportunities. The entertainment industry requires adults to have a tough shell and a mature attitude. The expectations and requirements of the adult actor are significant if you want to be successful and keep getting and keep getting work. Your attitude and work ethic is expected to be like an adult.
Transitioning from a child actor to adult can be quite difficult. Or perhaps you’re just a first time actor as an adult. Emotional maturity is of the upmost importance. I have seen many adults who are still very immature. The continual rejection over and over again can be difficult to handle for adult actors in general if they are not prepared or expected to handle these situations. I have always learned to take rejection over the years. I think my maturity comes from the beginning at an early age of my upbringing. I experienced a lot of rejection but learned to deal with it and manage my disappointments. I found performing became a means of therapy for rejection. So instead of feeling rejection, I go to the gym, read a book, do a photoshoot, perform a demo reel or something to keep me busy and moving forward.
Many adult actors think all they have to do is go out there and act. Well this is certainly understandable to want to do this. But, even the most seasoned actor takes acting instruction. Adult actors may think they don’t need acting lessons, but, this is far from the truth. They may not have to be guided like children do, but, nonetheless they have to take on larger roles and more in-depth roles. What acting lessons do is prepare you for developing a character, reading sides, understanding what the writer, director, or producer envisioned for their creation. The adult actor may see things in a totally different light than other principles who have already developed the character that they are looking for. So the acting lessons become guides instead of instructions. They help develop the adult to think outside the box and expand their own boundaries as a person.
I continue to take lessons for my career. I’m always improving myself as an actor and expanding my skills. I try to develop myself as a person and not only as an actor. To improve my skills, I take violin lessons, horseback riding, singing lessons, dance lessons, stunt training, martial arts, and numerous types of lessons to become a more versatile actor. This way I can fulfill many roles if called upon. I am learning French and Italian and will be taking other foreign language classes. I go to the gym three times a week for two hours to improve my flexibility, stamina and strength for preparation for my stunt training and overall general health. So everything is a continual learning lesson.
Acting lessons provide you with more than just learning to act. They build confidence, self-assurance in public speaking, creating a sense of teamwork, articulate conversations and understanding a broad range of viewpoints that are beneficial in everyday life. They create problem solving skills that are used to generate a higher level of thinking processes. This higher level of thinking crosses all boundaries of life. You learn to quickly analyze scripts and situations that are presented. You could be on a set when the director all of a sudden changes their mind and moves in a totally different direct. You are expected to follows those changes right there on the spot. Acting teaches adaptability and flexibility. I remember having my assistant forget a whole page of script for a scene. I told the director to give me 10 minutes while I read the page that I had never rehearsed before. I got it spot on perfectly.
The specific skills you learn from acting lessons is the information needed to read scripts. When you receive a 100 page script you have to be able to understand what to do with it. I used to think you had to memorize the whole thing. Well certainly not. Now I think it is so silly to think that. It would be impossible for a person to do that. But acting lessons teach you how to break down a script so you are able to understand your parts, placement and understanding of a scene. Acting lessons teach you how to develop a character. To be able to deliver the exact person that the director, producer and writer envisioned for that role. We have all seen actors that seem out of place in their role. Doesn’t quite fit the person we envision in that role. Acting lessons also teach you about table reads which are crucial to the preparation of the scene.
Acting lessons also prepare us to be adaptable and flexible and a readiness to go beyond the status quo. The actor must be able to accept new challenges, try and create new ideas and the adaptability and flexibility to constantly changing to situations, places, conditions, and groups. On a scene it may be changed on a moment’s notice. A director, producer, or writer might find that what they envisioned just didn’t come out the way they thought it would and change the whole scene. The actor has to be ready to adapt to the quick changes and still be in their character even though the scene has changed. Production never knows exactly how a scene is going to be played out until they can see on scene. On paper it may look good but in real life is another matter.
The ability to work under pressure is also an excellent trait. As actors learning, we have to be able to work under intense pressure. In class actors are paired together, or in a group, to test the limits of their skills. The importance is staying on task and maintaining composure while remembering your lines, staying in character and being enthusiastic can be challenging. Teaming up with other actors helps to provide a sense of family or community. You can’t help but become an integrated group with your cast and crew. I have made so many awesome people in acting class and on the set. We all try to work together for the benefit of having a great time while working. So there has to be a lot of senergy going between actors. All the sets I have been on have been so much fun. The actors all get along very well and we have loads of fun. Bloopers are my favorite. They ease tensions.
There are different types of acting classes. One class is learning audition techniques. This acting class teaches actors how to behave during an audition. They learn to focus on the whole auditioning process in general. The first step to getting a role is by auditioning for it. And auditions aren’t easy. Also, improv classes teach you the basics of improvisation and how to get out of your head and think on your feet. At first they are sort of hard to do because you have to think lightning fast. This type of acting helps when you are on a set and you have to fill in for your character.
We have covered a lot about acting in this article. The next article will focus on specifics of the acting class and the different types of classes will be dealt with.