Many of us have wondered what we would do if we happened to be on an island for a long vacation. Or, what we would do if imprisoned. The answer is everything that we do not manage to do in our everyday life. COVID-19 has given us a unique chance to do whatever we have been procrastinating for a long time, to work on ourselves or to open up new talents in us. I am a Los Angeles headshot photographer, and I have closed down my Glendale photo studio in mid-March.
It’s been about a month without headshot sessions. So, I’ve started to paint. I had zero knowledge about painting. Meaning, whatever I used to learn at primary school. I was lucky enough to purchase professional paints and canvases right before everything shut down. Online painting classes have come to replace my regular professional photography workshops and masterclasses.
With this blog, I would like to share my thoughts on what actors could do during the self-quarantine to grow as a professional and not to waste time while at home. Some people say that to be an actor one has to have natural talents. However, the professionals state that acting is a skill that one can develop over time. If you want to become the actor you dream of, to be confident and captivating, you should build your acting skills. And, now is the right time for that.
This article will help you enhance your acting skills irrespective of your acting level and where you are in your career. Everything mentioned in this article requires efforts and dedication.
If you think it is impossible to strengthen your acting skills every day, I am going to prove you wrong. We will talk about working on movement, knowledge, text work, voice, and acting. All the elements mentioned above are crucial for you as a professional actor.
Some actors neglect the importance of voice; however, it is one of the essential instruments that an actor should work on. It includes your form of expression, articulation, breath support and resonance.
1. Why Work on Your Voice?
Voice is one of the essential aspects of the character. If you want to get various roles, your voice has to vary, too. You cannot use your voice for all the roles you get. What if your character speaks twice as fast as you? You cannot develop a fast-paced speech overnight. It is long hours of out-loud reading and practicing. When my clients try to create various characters during the headshot session, they even change their voice, accent and overall their way of speaking. Los Angeles actors know how to make the headshot sessions fun. Professional photographers know that, too. So, for emerging actors, we use some of those techniques to help them relax and calm down. The professionals’ advice is to keep your voice flexible to embody any character you want. Collect as many “voices” and accents as you can. You have plenty of time now.
2. Voice Warm-Ups
If you google, you will find plenty of voice warm-ups for you to choose from. All shapes and sizes. You need to define which one works for you. The best option is to have a professional acting coach to select the best warm-up that will work for you. If you have a chance, try to schedule an online lesson with an acting coach. I am sure there are many acting coaches available online. Or, if you have done it beforehand try to remember what warm-ups you used to do with your acting coach. When you finish choosing the warm-ups now, it is time to schedule a 5-10 minute warm-up every day. As a professional photographer, I can tell you that consistency beats everything. When I was learning adobe photoshop, I would watch online lessons every single day. It would work for me better than a three-hour session just once a week.
3. Articulation Exercises
Choose a literature piece that inspires you and start working on your articulation. Some actors often neglect this skill; however, it is vital to work on it. Don’t forget that every skill you are working on has to be on a daily basis. Add 5-10 minutes of articulation exercises to your daily routine of becoming a better actor.
– Strengthen your Tongue
There are several articulation exercises that can help you strengthen your diction. Firstly, work on your tongue. Try to get more control over your tongue. You can do it by reading aloud or just talking to yourself whenever you are by yourself.
– Work on your Articulation Muscles
Learn tongue twisters and practice them as much as you can. Whenever I feel that my clients cannot relax during the headshot session, I ask them to say 3 pf their favorite tongue twisters. And here they are laughing. Besides, it helps them relax their facial muscles. Another good exercise is stretching the jaws and running the tongue around the walls of the mouth.
– Mirror Exercises
While doing all these articulation exercises sit or stand in front of the mirror. Choose a favorite story or a dialogue from a Hollywood movie and try to read out loud. If it is a movie dialogue, try to mimic their style and pronunciation.
2. Move and Do Yoga
Every professional actor has to be able to move freely. Like with voice, being able to move and do any basic physical movement is essential for a good actor, not to mention how much more role opportunities get the ones who specialize in martial arts and other sports.
As we all have to stay home, and there is no hassle, it is the right time to do yoga. Find an online yoga course on YouTube and work on your body on a daily basis. Here is my favorite yoga channel. Day by day you will feel how flexible your body becomes. Like with any skill, you have to be consistent. Whenever I was fully booked for headshots, I would spare 5 minutes in between headshot sessions and stretch my body on my yoga mat in my photo studio.
3. Enrich Your Knowledge
Quarantine is the right time to challenge yourself and expand your knowledge. Write down a list of books, scripts or plays you wish to read. Be realistic but don’t pity yourself. Ready at least 100 pages per day. It can be something about the Hollywood industry, acting skills, self-improvement. For example, I prefer reading books on photography business in Los Angeles, online marketing and psychological books as every headshot photographer has to know psychology as well.
To improve your acting skills, some professionals advise reading drama plays and movie scripts. Most reading materials are available online, even for free. Reading helps you observe different characters, genres, language styles. After reading so much, you may start writing yourself. This is what some actors do after a certain time in the industry. If you don’t know what to start with here is a list of top 50 drama plays.
Watch Online Movies, Theatre, and TV Shows
When you get tired of reading there comes another great way of expanding your knowledge as an actor. Watch a movie, or a TV show or an online drama play. Here is an excellent list of streaming theatres. Now, it is the right time to enjoy almost live performances. You have to engage in the industry to be able to get your niche in it. Challenge yourself to at least a movie or a performance a day. Even if you think some of those are terrible, you will also learn how you should not do and will be able to tell the good stuff from the bad stuff.
4. Work with Text
Working with text is tied to your voice exercises. A good actor can bring any text to life and give it a unique interpretation.
1. Read out loud
Another thing that you can do while at home is reading out loud. This point is tied to your daily voice exercises and expanding your knowledge. It will help you become more confident with text, try various accents, voices, styles. Choose an article, a dialogue, a script, or just read the rest of my blogs. I have a lot of blogs on the acting industry in Los Angeles, networking in Hollywood, tips on how to choose the headshot wardrobe and get ready for a headshot session. Just make sure it is out loud.
2. Learn a Monologue
As you have to stay home during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is the best time to learn a monologue. Some emerging actors think one cannot practice acting alone. In this case, it is not true. Pick at least two monologues a week and learn them. As you have a lot of time, you can record yourself and share them on social media and get comments. You can also send them to your acting coaches to get their professional feedback, too. Or, just send it to your headshot photographer who is sure to have some spare time to watch your video. In my practice, I always end up being friends with my headshot clients as they come back again and again with their friends and classmates.
Work on Your Acting Skills
COVID 19 has shut down all the acting schools. But it cannot stop you from improving your acting skills. Consider taking an online acting class. There are plenty now. My advice is not to just watch them as entertaining stuff. Take notes. The best thing about online courses is the opportunity to pause, to watch again or just to jump if it is too boring. From my personal experience, as once I was watching a lot of photography courses, I can say that Masterclass has the best stuff for online learning.
5. Keep Learning
The key to becoming a professional actor is to keep learning. Again, I’m not tired of saying that you have to learn on a daily basis. Don’t strive to be a perfect actor, just be better than yesterday. If your goal is to be perfect, it won’t work because none of us is perfect. Moreover, it may make you miserable.
I may take you years to become a skilled actor. But hard work will take you anywhere. Use this time, and by the end of the quarantine, you will become a better actor, and you will not feel depressed or even lonely. Of course, nobody knows when this pandemic will be over, but we should not get miserable because we have no chance to do our jobs as an actor or, me, as a headshot photographer. Now, it is the right time to invest in yourself. If you had an idea to start an Instagram page or a vlog, it is the right time to do so. It will strengthen your acting muscles and improve your on-camera techniques.
Organize online reads
If after all these you feel lonely and need some companionship, schedule a skype call with an actor friend and do dialogues with them. When you master the craft, you can do a live performance for your social media followers. Another motivating thing is to do all the mentioned above exercises on camera, record yourself and turn it into a success story that can become a movie or a YouTube vlog. Why not? Entertain your friends, family, and followers who are at home. Share the tips from this article with them with your samples. That will definitely be motivation not only for you but for the viewers as well. It can turn into a job as you get more views on Youtube and monetize them.
As a Conclusion
Now that you have plenty of time, you can plan your post-COVID-19 activities. Define what kind of actor you want to be. Comedy or drama? Stage or screen? The same is true for the photography industry. Nowadays, most of the headshot photographers in Los Angeles have turned into product photographers.
Consider taking an acting class. There is a huge selection of acting classes in Los Angeles. Google or ask your friends. Read the reviews. Explore their pricing. And make sure they are not a one-time or a one-weekend deal as it is crucial to keep the consistency even after the pandemic.