Be Brilliant.

Oct 8, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Acting Tips, Attitude, Representation, The business
this sign has sharp edges. do not touch the sides of this sign


Last night I attended a wonderful session put on my manager Mitch Clem (be sure to sign up for Jeff Gund’s InfoList for future updates on Mitch’s seminar as well as tons of other great information), and we got to talking afterwards. After our conversation I was reminded of a (the most?) crucial step to success in this industry: be brilliant.

Let me back up just a step. There is a significant information gap, especially at the developmental stages of this industry (that was my original inspiration when I started writing this blog with Joe and Emily). Finding good information is absolutely crucial, as is getting your act together and treating this business like a business (more in the future on what that phrase actually means). It takes a tremendous amount of effort to even get in “the room” in Los Angeles. Marketing yourself, building relationships, having the right things on your resume, having a brilliant headshot…the list goes on. However, at the end of all of that you’re simply opening a door and walking in. An equally important consideration is what happens as soon as you step through that door and into the room. You have to be brilliant.

If you know me you know that I could talk for days on how I think this town and industry work, and myriad ideas on how to get yourself the coveted opportunities to be considered for roles. At the end of the day, though, if you can’t walk into a room and knock the socks off of everyone in there it doesn’t matter. If you can’t act, no one will put you on a set; at least not consistently. There’s absolutely a balance to be had in marketing yourself and doing the business aspect, but if the other half–acting your face off (in a good way)–isn’t there then what does getting in the room really matter?

Now let me also state that “being brilliant” does not necessarily mean doing something totally wacky or out there. Being brilliant might be having the most solid and specific understanding of a character, saying your two lines, then getting the hell out of the room. But as Mitch was telling me last night, when he looked back at the dozens of his clients over the years who have been regulars on a series, by FAR the most common way they got there was by being a 1-day guest star, or even a co-star in some instances. These actors not only got the job, but were brilliant on set, getting them asked back, often turning their few lines into hundreds of future episodes.

So forget about your starmeter and go out there and take classes, study with your friends, read plays, read screenplays, watch EXACTLY what actors on TV are doing, listen to Secrets of Screen Acting Podcast, put yourself on tape, do a play, take improv classes, memorize a monologue a day, WHATEVER. But do it consistently and with passion until you have full confidence that if Aaron Sorkin pulled you aside at a Coffee Bean and asked you to put down your iced cafe latte and audition right there…that you’d nail it.

Ben Whitehair is the Los Angeles contingent of this blog. Find out more information and view his materials on his website, or read the rest of his blog posts.