Magic, God and Perfection

VVG 1886

“I was devastated, and wrote the passage to remind myself and anyone else struggling through a similar hardship that an artist’s relationship to their art is a uniquely precious experience, and while it comes with many sacrifices, it is ultimately worth pursuing.”

– David Ackert

Who is this and what are they talking about? Once upon a time, an actor, David Ackert wrote an inspired paragraph that has become a bit of a mantra in the acting/creative community. It goes like this:

"Actors are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, actors face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they'll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every role, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because actors are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience's soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes."
VVG 1887

Very uplifting. And here’s the kicker – David Ackert retired from the entertainment industry in 2009 when:

“I discovered that I could create, perform, and produce original content in the business world. Once I learned how to broaden my definition of success, I gained access to opportunities that were much more attainable than Hollywood stardom. Now I channel my creativity on my own terms.”

What is my definition of success? Is it broad enough? Am I being creative on my own terms? Am I being creative? Am I dedicating myself to a limited/limiting idea of success? What can I change? What will bring me closer to “that crystal moment”?

VVG 1889

Thanks to:

Marci Liroff’s article in Backstage about Ackert’s quote and Terry D. on Twitter where I first saw the quote mentioned.

7 Steps to Find Your Casting Type

Image: Pawn by Jeffrey Mundell

In this ultra-competitive entertainment industry, knowing your casting type gives you an edge. It identifies the roles in which you truly shine and allows you to focus on opportunities where you have the best chance of success.

Here’s a practical guide to help you identify or update your casting type:

Step 1:

Look over this list of character types and write down all the types that describe you – there will probably be a lot.  Now cut your list down to the 40 that describe you best and discard the rest.

Step 2:

Think of the shows you watch or the books you read.  Make a list of the characters who make you think, “I’m that” or, “I would be great at playing that”.  Are these types on your list of 40 from Step 1?  If not, add them.

Step 3:

What character types have you played so far?  Is there a common thread to how you’re cast?  Are these types on your list of 40 from Step 1?  If not, add them.

Step 4:

Take a good look over your list.  Choose only the 10 character types that fit you best and discard the rest.

Step 5:

Time to get creative: put your 10 character types into sentences.  Elaborate on their qualities.  Do some of them go together well?  Can they fit in the same sentence?  Don’t worry if the end result is messy – you should end up with a big, clunky paragraph describing a remit of characters that you’d have a great time playing.

Step 6:

Now rework that clunky mess into an elegant paragraph of 3 to 4 sentences.  This process may take time.  You’ll probably find you go back and forward through the steps as your ideas become clearer and you improve your descriptions (thesaurus.com is very useful for finding words that work even better).

Step 7:

Now that you have your paragraph, it’s time to create a single sentence or phrase that sums it all up. This will be your casting type in its simplest and clearest form. Make it exciting and memorable. Try the following format to get you started: “I’m best at playing [this kind of character] who [does this kind of thing].”

For example, in my case: “I’m best at playing troubled outsiders who don’t know when to quit.”

Again, this process may take time and you should go through a number of versions until you hit the one that resonates the strongest. When you’re done you’ll have your casting type and a great paragraph to elaborate on it.

Good luck!