Thursday, August 13, 2009

i got it!

this evening in on camera acting class, something clicked.

we were looking at monologues that we'd put on camera during the previous class - a scene from a sit-com, actually - and i watched one person after another do their bit and then listened as the instructor joanna gave her insights and carefully gave balanced critique and made helpful suggestions. it was all very supportive and encouraging, a very safe space to do something new and uncomfortable and strange.

when she got to my take, i got really objective and i took careful notes - but something in me balked in spite of myself. joanna said to stay away from patterns and wear solid colors on camera, and that the camera especially liked solid colors. i thought, okay. i'll wear primary colors to auditions from now on. the red dress i chose was absolutely luminous. it looked orange on camera but it still worked. i had on that bob wig and it actually worked really well, too. the makeup was great, the accessories worked. but something was off.

joanna paused the tape and explained that i was giving what the people in the industry would call a soft read. i was way too subdued. then she told me why i should be bigger and i realized i was afraid to go in that direction, because bigger to me meant theatrical and that was always a bad idea on camera. but according to joanna, that's not entirely true if you're doing comedy or even dramedy. so i thought, okay. i'll try it. why not? the worst she can do is rein me in. and that's what you do - you do the lines, you're given direction, you make the adjustments, you keep going. sounds simple, right? it soooooo isn't.

somehow whatever she said sank in. when it was time for me to do the next monologue, i nailed it. i nailed it so hardcore, she blurted, "great read!" from the back of the room. i felt like something fell into my hands and i really didn't want to let it go. all i could think was, i got it. i got it! that transition that i never thought would happen, the one that would take me from theater to film/tv, has finally taken place.

to be completely honest with you, i stood in my own way for a really long time. let's face it - it's a visual medium. what you look like and whether the camera likes you or not is mostly why anyone seriously considers you for a part. so initially, i didn't think i was pretty enough, or light skinned enough. i knew that my acting abilities were largely irrelevant. there's plenty of people out there on tv every week and in the movies and whatnot, they're lousy actors and they're making bank. they know how to hit their mark and they know how to pose and make the right faces and say their lines "with feeling" - and they know how to work the camera.

i figured it was better to stick with what i did best, what i knew. i was wrong.

after class, i went for a walk to think and think and think. i like this on camera stuff. i'm warming up to the whole process, to letting the camera see my thoughts. and i'm working harder and harder on what i look like, for whatever it's worth. beauty is in the eye of the beholder but i think that if it's the camera's eye that's beholding me - that favors me - i'll be fine.

and yes. my gradual weight loss is totally changing the way the camera sees me. more on that later.

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