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modeling & talent ● breaking into showbiz By Adam Hill A Condensed Primer in Acting In order to overcome obstacles, you must be willing to ask yourselves the right questions that will help you get past them and master your craft T here are five basic questions that must be an- swered when approaching any character: Who am I? Where am I? What is my relationship with the people around me? What do I want? What is preventing me from getting what I want? Acting is not acting, it’s being. Just as you are able to answer these questions about yourself, so must you be able to answer these questions for you character. There are two magical words in acting: specific and clar- ity. So, let’s be specific and clear in how you are to approach these questions. 1. WHO AM I? Identify your character from the information supplied in the script. Name, age, background, anything the author tells you. From there on it is up to you to fill in the blanks. Studying human nature and people is a required aspect of becoming an actor. Your character is as unique as you. All characters are physically, emotionally, and psychologically different from us and each other. We share some traits. Those are givens. What we work on as actors is what is different. In terms of the physical, if your character is a blond and you are a blond, you don’t have to do anything. However, if your character is a redhead and you’re a blond, you need to do something. Buy a wig or dye your hair. The same is true if your character is by nature an angry person and you aren’t, you must do something to be true to that character. I sug- 30 PAGEANTRY DRIVEN: Robert De Niro actually got a taxi license to understand his character for his role in “Taxi Driver.” On break while filming, the actor literally drove around New York City in a cab as a Taxi Driver. gest to the beginning actor to make list of your character’s likes and dislikes, what your character can and can’t do, and personality characteristics. Get to know who you’re playing so you may eventually embody that character. Build your character’s history. The more you learn about them the more specific that history will become. Depend- ing on the complexities of these characters, seasoned actors can sometime spend months on research. A new actor should spend at least some hours doing the same. 2. WHERE AM I? This question has to do with place, atmosphere, and ob- jects. Wherever you may be reading this article, that place is having an effect on you. It is most likely subtle, but still you can’t help but be affected by your surroundings no mat- ter how slight. Imagine if you were reading this article on a flight during turbulence. What if you were reading at the beach on a blazing hot summer’s day? Imagine if this mag- azine were 20 pounds heavier. Every actor must investigate our characters’ environment, the props they are using, and the effects these have on what they’re doing and feeling. 3. WHAT IS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND ME? Personalization is paramount in acting. Think of how you behave around different people. Your boss, your par- ents, your friends, your siblings, your enemies, those you identify with and those you don’t. When you speak to these