Work on what you're not good at

I am spending two days as background this week, watching guys take their clothes off at a strip club, so I had to move my Tuesday class with Suzanna to Monday. I always love class jumping, because I get to meet new people, and reconnect with some old friends as well.

It was an incredibly small class, me and 3 other people, so we all got to work on our things until we were happy with them, which didn’t really take anyone that long. I was the reader for a scene from Parenthood, watched a heartbreaking one from 50/50, then it was my turn.

2016-07-20 08.09.15

My scene was from Steve Jobs, between Steve and Joanna. I haven’t seen it yet, so I had nothing to compare myself to, but I did know what was going on. Like always, we did it a first time, without going over anything, which went okay, but there is a whole lot of overlapping and cutting each other off that didn’t happen since the reader was reading it for the first time. I was also much too polite, letting him speak and not cutting him off, even if I knew that I probably should.

I was really happy that I had worked not only on learning my lines, but on doing my process, which I keep amending to include all the new things I am learning. After the first take, Suzanna asked me what my goal is, and why I venture off into what appears to be a tangent. If I just did like I used to and learnt my lines, sometimes not even knowing my scene partner’s, I would have no idea. Instead, I put in the time and knew exactly why I brought up sales projections. It was one of my tactics that I was using to achieve my goal. He was preoccupied with a problem, so I was letting him know the problem was solved so that he could focus on my issue. Suzanna agreed, so we went again.

The second take was a lot better, and we were really good at cutting each other off, but I felt I wasn’t getting upset enough at the end. So, we did it a third time, just to clean it up. Watching it, I was perhaps a little bit too soft, but I absolutely love the fast paced world of Aaron Sorkin. It was exhilarating to have an argument with my reader where we cut each other off and talk over each other, neither of us giving in. At the end, I was really happy with what we did, and think Sorkin might have made his way to my list of people I want to work with, at long last, after continuously loving the scenes I get to do that he wrote.

2016-07-20 08.08.28

After a lovely scene from I Love You Man, we moved on to the commercial/actor role auditions, which were all really well done by everyone. As for me, I really like to pride myself on the fact that I can learn my lines rather quickly. Even listening to a scene a few times can be enough for me to be able to answer when someone calls line. So you can imagine my surprise when Suzanna gave me a commercial where I only have a single line. “Sure”.

I know you shouldn’t become a class rat, and you shouldn’t stay with the same teacher for too long, because you’ll stop growing. But I often find Suzanna knows exactly what to give you to work on what you need to work on. I actually think that getting to this point where I am so comfortable with Suzanna and her classes has enabled me to try new things and not be afraid to fail. I think not knowing my lines and not putting any work into a scene would be the only thing that I would regret doing with her at this point.

In this case, it wasn’t as intimidating as trying a new accent, but I am not so great with the physicalities in this scene. After my one line, I had to look into an imaginary mirror and check myself out, with confidence, which is not something I do. If anything, looking at mirrors might bring a kind of bite-my-bottom-lip-and-decide-I-kind-of-look-good. Then, I have to shift to an imaginary car, where I realize I had the wrong idea entirely, but still have to be excited about this new development.

The first time, I sped through it like it was an obstacle course, rather than separate moments. Once I got the slower down, I had issues with my perma-smile, which definitely looked awkward on camera. The take I felt most confident with, I had to do again because I kind of strained to look at something. Suzanna liked the last take, where I take the guy in more, but I’m not sure about it. I think what I find hardest about the commercials, this one in particular, isn’t necessarily the physicality, but that I am doing them as me. I am not really playing a character, I am selling a product. Perhaps I can create more fleshed out versions of me for future commercials? Or I can just continue working on what I need to work on.

It’s advice I heard a long time ago, from lots of different people, so I made lists of what I needed to work on and started crossing them off. I got a few, but then I got comfortable with where I was and didn’t push myself so much anymore, at least not intentionally working on the things from my list. So, as terrifying as it is, I have to get back to that list, to work on the things that I am not good at, not just when they come along, but to actually seek them out. Vulnerability (crying) and confidence (flirting) are probably my biggest issues at the moment, so looks like I will have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable with those…


“It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile.”

-Garry Marshall


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Your Cart
    %d bloggers like this: