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How to Avoid Overacting: 4 Tips for Success

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You’ve landed the role of a lifetime, memorized all of your lines, and you’re super excited to get started.  This excitement is, of course, a good thing.  But it can also easily translate into overacting.  All of that practicing in front of a mirror can look very different in front of a camera, which tends to amplify every gesture you make.  Here are four tips to avoid being too over-the-top while still giving it your all.

Here is the first tip to avoid overacting.

In order to avoid overacting, you’ll want to try to execute each line and mannerism the same as you would in real life.  If you’ve just received some exciting news, smile and say so.  Don’t jump up and down and spin in circles.  If you’ve received terrible news, reply in the same way you would if you received this information from a friend or loved one.  In other words, you’ll want to respond to whatever you hear the same as you would off-camera.

Here is the second tip to avoid overacting.

Acting naturally involves reacting almost a hundred percent of the time, and not trying to out-do the other person.  In reciting your lines, whether starting a conversation and going from there, or responding to someone else’s words, you should feel as if you’re not acting at all.  Dramatic pauses, stereotypical gestures, and amplifying your voice in a way that you normally would not only makes you look awkward.  To avoid overacting, imagine that you are having a conversation with someone you know and simply go from there.

avoid overacting

Here is the third tip to avoid overacting.

Be prepared when heading into a scene, but don’t expect to be perfect.  Even if you’ve memorized the dialogue, unless specifically written into the script, the rest is ad lib.  Don’t ask for a restart because you’re so caught up in the body language that you’re “supposed” to use that you overthink what you actually did.  Don’t get so self-conscious about the placement of your arms, hands, etc., that you lose tack of what is happening.  Overthinking usually means overacting.

Here is the fourth tip to avoid overacting.

Don’t let your mind wander into a space where you’re overanalyzing every little thing.  All too often, when performing (regardless of the task at hand), it’s easy for your thoughts to make it difficult to be present.  Yet, only by staying present can you react to something as if you’re hearing it for the first time.  You can’t be genuine if you’re drifting off to a time in which you were practicing and struggled with this scene or the thousand times you reviewed it off-camera.  Overacting often stems from fear of failure.

avoid overacting

Remember, in reality, most of the information you ingest forces you to respond on the spot.  You are not a mind reader and are not going into conversations prepared for next steps.  You’re already a great actor because you engage with others on a daily basis and are a natural when it comes to reading their emotions and responding.  Think about this when the camera is rolling, and overacting will be a non-issue.

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