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Practice Makes Perfect: Honing Your Acting Skills

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So, you want to really get this acting thing down.  You want to be the next unforgettable face in Hollywood – a versatile actor who will quickly build a portfolio able to compete with the best of them.  How can you ensure you’ll pull off a flawless audition and start building your resume?  There are a few tried and true ways in which you can really hone your acting skills.

Study Everyday Behavior. Go to a crowded park, shopping mall, grocery store, or party, or simply sit on your front porch and watch life go by.  It sounds strange, but it’s important to study and emulate everyday behavior to truly hone your technique, and these settings offer the most ideal backdrops to do just this.  You don’t have to sit in a rocking chair for hours like you might envision doing in our retirement days.  You don’t have to sit at all, as a matter of fact.  Just remember, the next time you’re in a social setting, take some extra mental notes about the interactions you observe.

Learn the Art of Body Language.  We often say so much by saying nothing at all.  This is because, whether we want to or not, we’re constantly sending messages in the way we present and carry ourselves.  If we cross our arms, we appear anxious and closed off.  If we look a presenter in the eye, we come across as especially interested.  There is a multitude of social cues we project through our body language, whether we are conscious of these or not.  It’s important to understand appropriate body language for the role you are considering, event you are attending, or interview you’re giving, and as much as possible, you’ll want to present with confidence and pose.

Look Yourself in the Eye.  Yes, it’s true.  You’ll need to practice your lines in front of the mirror.  Oddly enough, we humans find it especially daunting to look ourselves in the eye while delivering a practiced speech.  But, if we can’t do this, we likely won’t be able to stand in front of the watchful eyes of many and do the same.  So, the mirror is your best friend.  After all, the only reaction you’ll receive is your own.  This is the perfect setting to perfect your lines.

Binge Watch Your Favorite Movies.  If a film has “good acting,” what does this mean?  Why is it good?  Study the characters in your favorite films – their dialogue, expressions, movements.  What makes them believable?  Try mimicking their behaviors.  Practice makes perfect.

Take the time to Drop-In.  Drop-in improv workshops are great.  If you can find one in your area, go.  If it’s an ongoing workshop, all the better.  Improv allows you to stretch your imagination and really hone your creativity.  There’s nothing more exhilarating than developing a dialogue on the spot and watching a story unfold.

Acting is tough.  There are no two ways about it.  It’s tough, and there’s a lot of people who want to do it.  Standing apart from the competition takes practice, skill, and an inherent inability to take no for an answer.  A-list actress Emily Blunt says it best, “You’ve got to get the thickest skin possible.  Like a rhino hide.  It’s a very personal job.  Put a helmet on.”

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