“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”
I have been getting tons of questions from veterans interested in getting into acting. I don’t feel my path to acting is easy for replication but in this article I will give some of the best information I was able to pull from the wealth of knowledge of the men and women on set of Mayans Mc. First things first, there is no one way of doing it right, you can be formally trained with years of acting classes under your belt or you can be a natural and grind your way through the life of audition after audition praying you have a look and style they are casting for. I have to mention I am by far the last person to represent “The way into the Industry” speech but I feel it’s my duty to help fellow Veterans in any field I am somewhat knowledgeable in.
Here are some of the items requested of me when going to acting or going to an audition.
Headshots are typically several different looks you have to offer as an actor. Currently I have a beard, if I was taking headshots for my portfolio I would do a few with a beard, shave and do a few without. I would dress in a suit, maybe even in military uniform… Think about the roles you are trying to snag on your way up to the top. This will help casting identify the possibilities for your character.
Essentially it’s s your acting resumé. What roles you have played and the depth of your acting. If you spent an earlier part of your road to Hollywood playing cop number 7 I would leave those out of this reel. This reel is specifically for speaking parts… you don’t have any? Make them! iPhone’s film in 4k now, write a short film with your buddies and develop a scene… Make your own roles! This is just a start but when casting asks for a demo reel you will be able to show them your skills. Now with that being said… get some honest friends… because if your reel sucks… well… don’t expect yourself to be pulling any jobs
Get the the training to protect the craft. You don’t just join the military and go to war… you train and train and train to perfect your skills to give you the best opportunity to survive! The acting world is a fucking battle… everyone wants a piece of the pie, weather its for fame, or for a solid love for the craft… there isn’t a shortage of bartenders in LA that have a script or moved to LA to chase the dream. The difference is who continues to train? There are different types of acting coaches, find what works for you… My coach is Anthony Gilardi at Anthony Gilardi Acting Studio…a brutal passionate Drill Sergeant with his students… I love this man and his passion. He went well out of his way to help me when I was feeling insecure about my skills and helped me refine a process that works for me… I still have a lot of work to do but just the small amount of time I have spent with him has made me a better actor.
Know the camera:
JD Pardo is hands down one of the most knowledgeable actors about understanding the set. Camera angles, cheats for eye lines and feeling the camera for the best shots and lighting… What I learned from him in 4 months was the equivalent to a AA degree in on camera technique. *Eye line: Location the actors eyes need to be focused on to match the turn around of the conversation. *Feeling the Camera: Knowing when the camera can and can’t see you.
Find your process:
Richard Cabral is my guru in finding a process. “Acting comes from the soul” He says. Richard showed me the deeper connection to his character and his process to shutting out the outside world and preparing for his scenes. It all started for him in his trailer. A form of meditation and centering his emotion for the day. Its incredible to watch, I have also caught myself on set completely stunned how this little guy can have such a huge presence on set.
Micheal Irby, Irby has what most people wish they had, he doesn’t give a fuck… meaning he is just confident and comfortable with who he is… I have been told actors are needy for affirmation, was the scene good, did I do well. I can confirm it feels good as shit to hear you are doing a good job on screen… but Irby has something we all need more of and thats just a carefree soul. It’s really what allows him to be free in acting with little to no insecurities.
Emilio Rivera is one of the most honest men I have ever met, his acting is completely genuine and that comes from being in the moment of the event. He isn’t acting at all, he is reacting to the conversation happening in the moment. This is what makes him great. This is what makes most actors great.
There are so many others who have taught me how to be a better actor and showed me new things to gain more depth. If you are new to acting the best place to start would be these areas. Learn the craft and understand the camera, find your process to get you into character, let go of the insecurities as much as you can so you can be free on film, and stop trying to act and just react to the scene
You don’t necessarily need an agent to get into the business, But they do serve a purpose in helping getting auditions. If you are going to look for an agent I would start at a smaller agency and once you become more skilled and experienced then look for higher level of representation. You need to decide what you want to be…(A big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond)
So, after all this information I am sure you are still confused on how to become an actor. Here is my answer… If you want to act then act… find small films, film your own movies, become an extra, get some lessons and continue to go to auditions… There is a definite possibility you might not ever become the next big star or even a co-star. But I believe there are a lot of actors needed and if you do the work you can do achieve your dreams.
-Break a Leg
Mayans MC on FX September 4th