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Follow Your Favorite Actors and Learn Some Important Terms

July 17, 2013

The following post was provided by Lana Stevens from the VM Media Team. To submit or suggests a post for the NBYT blog, contact the Executive Director and Producer.

Whether you are first starting out in your acting career or you have been an actor for a long time, it is always helpful to take a cue from your favorite actors. Studying your favorite actors can expand your knowledge and help you get parts. After all, an educated actor is a successful actor.

If you are considering acting classes, it might be worth it to study with a working actor. These actors can not only teach you a certain style of acting, but they can also teach you about the business itself. There is a lot to learn about the modern acting profession, and it’s always helpful to learn from someone who is a seasoned professional. The downside to studying directly with a working actor might be that your classes could be interrupted when he or she gets a part and has to start rehearsals. Or you might show up to an audition and see your teacher there. This might be why it’s good to learn from actors from afar. Here are some important key terms about the acting profession that you can learn from established actors without studying with them directly.

If you are interested in playing younger roles, look to Elisabeth Moss for just one example of the 18-To-Play-Younger capability. Moss starred as the President’s daughter in Aaron Sorkin’s series, The West Wing, when she was over 18. It’s also not unheard of for stage actors to be cast in younger roles. Open your eyes and ears to what you think you can do. If your favorite actor couldn’t do it, you might not be able to, either. Taking the time to study a specific episode over and over can be a daunting task if you are constantly having to track down episodes on DVD’s. Many people prefer to record episodes on their DVR so they can manage recording and replaying easier. Currently DirecTV has the most advanced DVR on the market.  You can sign up for DirecTV using http://www.saveontvdirect.com/ and you will also receive three free months of HBO which also offers the popular show Mad Men.

When you first go in for auditions with a lot of other people, you may be wondering what the protocol is for the experience. Veteran actors know that these are called cattle calls to cast extras. Many of Hollywood’s famous actors started out as movie extras, a common way to break into to business. Nothing is more exciting than getting a callback, meaning when casting calls you back to audition a second time. This time you will likely be with actors who are more experienced. Study how they work to better your chance to get the part.

Once you get to the part and get on set, there is a lot to learn from your favorite actors who are taking the lead. It might seem intimidating to be around someone famous, but these actors are really there to help you like they were helped before they became established. If you are cast in a television series like Mad Men, for instance, watch what January Jones or Jon Hamm does. Notice that before the film even starts, the directors and the actors need to be on the same page. You will need to do a read through, or a collaborative reading of the script. Whether you are a stage or film actor, you will need to do blocking, or working out where the characters stand and move. Study what the regulars do and ask questions. No one can ever blame you for asking how to do your job.

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