In part one of this two-part series, Shaan Sharma discussed two techniques to physically claim status in an acting scene. Here are three more.
Movement and expression telegraph our feelings and intentions. By being still and unexpressive, you can make it impossible for others to read you, which can make people very uncomfortable if they want to know what you’re going to do, how you’re feeling, or what you’re thinking. In gambling, we call this “poker face,” making it impossible for opponents to tell if one is bluffing or not.
Again, many predators in the wild creep up on their prey, and become very still in the moments before they strike, making it impossible for the victim to anticipate the exact moment of the attack. How can you dodge an attack you don’t see coming? Every living animal or person is a potential threat, and when we can’t read their intentions, it can make us uncomfortable… unless we are equally or more of a threat to them.
Your first instinct may be to think that yelling or speaking loudly establishes dominance, and it certainly can, but it all comes back to comfort and discomfort again. Yes, yelling can intimidate people and make them feel threatened, but so can speaking softly in the right circumstances. Loudness is the roar of the lion. Quiet is the deadly silence of the snake or shark.
Speaking clearly, with intention, communicates clarity of purpose, whether that purpose is sweet, aggressive, or defensive. People with purpose tend to get things done. Doing things effects change, and change can be uncomfortable for us, especially when the change may not be good for our own comfort or security.
VIOLATING THE NORMS
Few things have the power to make others uncomfortable or insecure than violating the norms, the status quo, the way things are supposed to be, if you can get away with it. Think of how powerful a crying baby is on an airplane, or a billionaire tech CEO who wears a hoodie and jeans instead of a suit in the business world.
Almost all of us are wilder animals than society’s norms allow. If we all let our freak flags fly, the economic and lawful structures would collapse. Any opportunities to indulge in our weirdness or sadness or angst have a certain tempting appeal, even if they are damaging to ourselves or others.
In your scenes, if your character has status or you want to imbue status into them, look to see what rules or norms they can break and get away with. We see so many characters in TV or film who are doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, all with twisted, dark sides that are seemingly incongruous with the stereotypical qualities of their real-world counterparts. We vicariously live out our freakishness through their stories. Why else are we drawn to them? Power is magnetic.
Experiment with these five keys to claiming status in your work, and let me know what you think, or if you have any to add, in the comments below or hit me up on social.
For additional interesting reading on the nature of power, I highly recommend getting Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power.” Here’s a gem of a quote that relates to auditioning and confidence bred from competence:
“If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter withboldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.”
- July 2019
- Apr 25, 2018 5 Risks of Acting in Non-Union Commercials Apr 25, 2018
- Aug 17, 2017 How to Take Full Advantage of Your SAG-AFTRA Membership Aug 17, 2017
- May 30, 2017 3 Essentials for Brilliant Work May 30, 2017
- Feb 9, 2017 Stop Apologizing Feb 9, 2017
- Jan 18, 2017 Why Good Slates Matter Jan 18, 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- Sep 9, 2016 2 L.A. Session Directors on What Actors Need to Know Sep 9, 2016
- Jun 6, 2016 We’re Not Evolved to Handle Acting Well Jun 6, 2016
- May 31, 2016 3 Ways Stage Training Adversely Affects On-Camera Actors May 31, 2016
- Apr 14, 2016 4 Ways for Working Actors to Deal With Emotional Stress Apr 14, 2016
- Dec 1, 2015 How to Handle Unwanted Romantic Advances From Industry Pros Dec 1, 2015
- Nov 11, 2015 Stop Calling It Rejection Nov 11, 2015
- Oct 7, 2015 5 Universal Mistakes I See Actors Make Oct 7, 2015
- Sep 29, 2015 The Unsung Heroes of Casting: Cori-Anne Greenhouse Sep 29, 2015
- Aug 31, 2015 Why Acting Is and Needs to Be Fun Aug 31, 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 12, 2015 Being a ‘Good’ Actor Isn’t Good Enough May 12, 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- Nov 28, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 3 Nov 28, 2014
- Nov 26, 2014 7 Steps Toward Better Headshots Nov 26, 2014
- Nov 12, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 2 Nov 12, 2014
- Nov 5, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 1 Nov 5, 2014
- Oct 13, 2014 Why Actors Must Take Care of Their Bodies Oct 13, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 2: Matching Your Essence to Your Marketing Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 1: Identifying Your Essence Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 6, 2014 We Are Each Other’s Greatest Resource Oct 6, 2014
- Sep 29, 2014 An Ode to Actors Everywhere Sep 29, 2014
- Sep 23, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 2 Sep 23, 2014
- Sep 16, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 1 Sep 16, 2014
- Sep 9, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 3: 3 More Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 9, 2014
- Sep 2, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 2: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 2, 2014
- Aug 25, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 1: Are You in Class for the Right Reasons? Aug 25, 2014
- Aug 18, 2014 The 6 (Often Thankless) Jobs in Commercial Casting Aug 18, 2014
- Aug 11, 2014 You Are Enough: Why You Need to Just Be Yourself in Commercial Auditions Aug 11, 2014