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Tips for New Actors: Understanding Your Character

tips for new actors

Stepping into the shoes of a character for the first time can be daunting, but it's also an exciting opportunity to bring a story to life. As an experienced director who has guided hundreds of actors through their roles in short films, commercials, and fashion films, I understand the challenges and rewards of character development. Here are some essential tips to help you deeply understand and authentically portray your character.

Dive Into the Script

Read and Re-read: Start by reading the script multiple times. With each read, try to uncover new layers about your character. Focus not just on what your character says, but also on what is said about them by others.

Dialogue Analysis: Pay close attention to your character’s dialogue. How they speak—tone, vocabulary, and pace—can reveal a lot about their background, education, and personality.

Understanding the Character's Main Flaw and Want

One of the most critical aspects of character development is understanding your character's main flaw and primary want. These elements are fundamental as they drive the narrative and influence every decision your character makes.

Identifying the Main Flaw: The main flaw is a weakness within the character that often causes internal conflict or conflicts with other characters. It is crucial for creating depth and realism in your portrayal. To identify this flaw, consider what personal obstacles prevent your character from achieving their goals. Does this flaw stem from their backstory, relationships, or a specific incident? Understanding this can help you humanize your character and add layers to your performance.

Recognizing the Primary Want: Conversely, a character's want is what drives them forward in the story—it's their objective or what they desire most. This could be a concrete goal or something more abstract like acceptance or freedom. Understanding your character's want helps to focus your performance on striving towards something specific, making your actions more directed and purposeful.

Connecting Flaw and Want: Often, the flaw and want are interconnected; the flaw might be what prevents the character from achieving their want. This dynamic creates a natural tension and development arc in the story, offering a rich field for actors to explore. By understanding how these elements interact, you can deliver a more compelling and relatable performance that resonates with audiences.

Incorporating the understanding of your character's flaw and want into your preparation process not only enriches your portrayal but also enhances the narrative depth of the entire production.

Emotional Mapping

Chart the Journey: Outline your character's emotional journey throughout the script. Identify key moments of change or realization. Understanding these pivotal points will help you deliver a nuanced performance.

Practice Emotional Flexibility: Experiment with different emotional responses to the same situation. This exercise will prepare you for directorial adjustments and deepen your emotional range.

Physicality and Voice

Adopt Physical Traits: Consider how your character moves and occupies space. Practice their walk, gestures, and facial expressions. These physical traits should align with the character’s background and emotional state.

Voice and Accent: If your character has a specific accent or manner of speaking, work with a dialect coach or practice by listening to accents online. Ensure your voice reflects the age, region, and temperament of your character.

Rehearse with Others

Develop Chemistry: If possible, rehearse with other actors who will be in the same scenes. This interaction can help you refine how your character relates to others and build on-screen chemistry.

Seek Feedback: Use rehearsals as a chance to get feedback from the director and fellow actors. Constructive criticism is invaluable for adjusting and improving your portrayal.

how to prepare for your first acting role

Analyze Performances

Study Other Actors: Watch films or plays where actors portray similar characters. Note how they convey emotions and interact with others. This can provide inspiration and insight into different ways of embodying a character.

Reflect on Your Performances: After rehearsals or performances, take time to reflect on what felt right or what could be improved. Consider keeping a journal to document your thoughts and director's notes.

On Set: The Warm and Inviting Environment

On my set, you’ll find a supportive atmosphere where creativity thrives. We encourage actors to explore their roles deeply and bring their own interpretations to the table. Remember, it’s not just about following directions—it’s about making the character uniquely yours.

Audition today!

Understanding your character is a journey that combines script analysis, creative imagination, and practical experimentation. By deeply engaging with every aspect of your character, you can deliver a performance that resonates with authenticity and emotional truth.

Ready to put these tips into practice? Join us for an upcoming project by auditioning at Actors Wanted - Edmonton. We look forward to seeing how you bring your character to life!

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