Ask Amy: Answers from Acting Coach Amy Lyndon

by Amy Lyndon

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Acting coach Amy Lyndon answers your burning acting questions.


Throughout the past few months, numerous acting questions have been received which, although answered privately, certainly affect many of us. Here are several of those questions and their follow up responses.

Dear Amy,

Ok I'm new and I want to be good at cold reading. I have two things that scare me 1. I believe that I'm a bad at public speaking. 2. I'm kinda dyslexic. I'm scared that I won't be able to learn the skill of cold reading. How scared should I be?

Dominick

Dear Dominick,
Those are two very good questions. First of all, public speaking requires you to be on a podium all by yourself with yourself, whereas Acting requires you to speak through the writer's intent as the character. It's never about you. It's always about the character. Secondly, being dyslexic is not a disability. It's a pain in the ass. You just need to work harder. If you want this career, you need to work beyond yourself, hard and strong. Find the tools and go for it.



Dear Madam,
I'm really interested in becoming a Hollywood actor and one upcoming Marvel productions film is Thor, the Nordic god of thunder whom we get the day Thursday from. I'm 6'0" tall, blonde and Nordic just as Dolph Lundgren the real star of Rocky 4 is and I am also mindful of the fact that there is a 2010 release date can you help?

Yours Faithfully,

Roger

Dear Roger,
Being an unknown makes it extremely difficult to get to those really big roles. It would help to get an agent and/or manager to send your package. Why don't you put yourself on tape reading from one of the comic books and send it to the casting directors and producers of that project. I wouldn't expect too much though, but you can try. It's always important to try because you never know. Stranger things have happened.



Dear Amy,

I wanted to know if you could help me, a working fellow actor remembers his lines and gets off the page- I do work commercially - but am stuck without the ability to learn lines. I may be dyslexic or just lazy - any ideas? I really need to get this down - the rest is cake.

Christopher

Dear Christopher,
If you would study in stream of consciousness style as opposed to memorizing, you would do much better. Study the thoughts and feelings behind each line, study how you hear the other person's lines and then study why you responded that way, then you will have a fighting chance to get it down. If you run lines, it will always sound like lines run. But, if you study the "why" behind each thought, it will tend to make total sense why the next line comes next.



Dear Amy,

I am at my wits end. I want to help my Daughter to achieve her goal of being a great actress. My Husband and I have done everything we can, we moved here to CA so she could be near the action so to speak and after 5 years she is still struggling. We have had bad agents/managers with bad advice. We have had the best agent with no action there either. They all know she has talent but because she looks different, not bendable she is harder to push they say. She has Casting Director's tell her, "You are the best person we have seen today," yet no callbacks because of her looks. It is really starting to wear on her because it is always wait, wait, wait... of course she knows this is the business and have accepted it but I am just wondering how is she supposed to book anything if she is not getting out there? How do I make sure she is getting the exposure, submissions etc? We have a manager who is supposed to be one of the best and she does represent star kids, but never time for us. I think she does not have time to push my Daughter (as from a business stand point I understand, then why take her?)... But, I just don't know what to do! Thank your for your advice!

Terrie

Hi Terrie.
You have some valid points. To help give you some solace, you cannot consider it 5 years when she hasn't been represented properly that whole time. If she is with the "best" then you need to develop a better relationship with your reps. Take them out to dinner and come up with a game plan to get her out. If in fact they cannot get her out, then it is time to move on. I am positive that there are agents and managers out there who will spend a lot more time and energy helping develop her career. Also remember that a career spans a lifetime, it's not like a job. It takes a real job to hang in there. Tenacity and information is key. If it's not working, change the team. You can additionally send her out through all the websites yourself. If she loves to act, then she needs to act in anything that will get her tape and exposure on the independent circuit. Always remember that action relieves anxiety.



Dear Amy,

How can an actor deal with this? As a manager, I feel like they should be prepared for casting directors who read flat, skip lines and can be generally uninterested... but since I'm not an actor I don't know what that experience is like and don't want to be too critical... thoughts?

Michelle Jannone - Personal Manager

Dear Michelle,
Actors need to understand that it's not how the casting director is reading, but how they hear what the casting director says from their character point of view. Actors need to be auditioning for everything and anything to be able to deal in any situation. If anything is throwing them, then they're still too inexperienced. It really does take practice to deal with the disinterested, disrespectful and lame reads that some CD's give. The truth is... if they gave a great read, then they would only be concentrating on their own acting and not the actors. It's easier to speed-read it and skip to the actor's parts in order to see if they're the character or not. They already have a job.



Dear Amy,

I had an audition the other day for a feature film and I was improvising on camera as directed, all seemed to be going well when the CD asked me to reverse the scene. I had no idea what he meant! Did he want the characters to reverse the roles? Or just to reverse the scene itself? I felt like such an idiot and I guess I should have done something, but I just professed ignorance and he didn't elaborate. Needless to say, I didn't get a call back and the part was perfect for me! What should I have done?

Ignorant in Reseda!
Mercy

Dear Mercy,
Can't help you with that one. Strange. What I can say is that it is YOUR AUDITION and you should never put yourself out there without full clarification ever. You should not have continued YOUR AUDITION without knowing full well what the adjustment was in detail. Don't forget... this business is extremely inconvenient. You have to download the sides, change your schedule, get all dressed up, deal with LA traffic, pay for parking, walk a mile and deal with the outer office nonsense all to not have clarification???? What a waste of your precious time and money.



Dear Amy,

Hi, my name is Elaine. My dream is to become an actress. I told my mother that a lot of times but she doesn't takes it seriously. I am 14 years old and I am willing to work really hard for making my dream come true. Please tell me a way that I can start making my dream reality.

Elaine

Dear Elaine,
You might have to wait until you're 18. Until then, get involved with everything in your school that has to do with Theatre/Dramatic Arts. If you work really hard at it for a consistent amount of time, maybe your mom will see that it's not just a passing phase and get with your program. Good Luck.



Dear Amy,

I don't have many credits on my resume. What should I do?
What you need to ask yourself is, if anyone were to turn over my picture and look at my resume, would they be engaged by my uniqueness to ask a question? Never be ashamed of your accomplishments. If you can whistle through your nose, write it down as a skill. You never know what casting is looking for. If you speak languages, have unique dialects, play professional ball or have CPR training, write it down. Anything that's special about you can get you noticed. Focus on your Training/Special Skills section and beef up your theatre credits as much as possible. If you are interesting, people will be interested.



Dear Amy,

How do I get out of doing extra work and get into principal paying jobs? I feel like I'm a gerbil on a wheel that keeps spinning and I don't know how to get off.
First thing you need to do is get a job that's industry related. This does not include extra work. Then, go on as many auditions as possible from ads in periodicals and word of mouth. Build your credits and your reel, and then look for representatives that believe in you. When your auditions get in the way of your survival job, find a night gig and continue to work on as many projects as possible in addition to whatever you book through your Agent or Manager. Always remember, your rep only gets 10% so, you need to assume that they only work 10%.



Dear Amy,

Should I join SAG right away? I'm eligible.
It has always amazed me how freaked out actors are about getting their SAG card. I do get it. I really do. However, do you realize how many wonderful leading and supporting roles you can play in Non-Union films? Most of the "juicy" roles in union films go to name actors. What better way is there to practice your craft and at the same time, gather up some incredible characters for your reel? Not having your SAG card should not get in the way of you moving forward in your career.



Dear Amy,

Hello my name is Mikilauna Walsh. How do I go about getting an acting career and what are Agents looking for in an aspiring actor or actress?
Hi Mikilauna.
An agent looks for many things from a newcomer. If an agent signs anyone without credits, they look at their picture, training and special skills. The initial package has to be phenomenal! The actor has got to be training with the best teachers and is currently out there auditioning to build credits and tape. If you're 18 to play younger, you have a better shot at signing with a strong agency. With tenacity, experience and excitement, anything wonderful can happen. Good Luck.



Dear Amy,

My name is Kayley Jolly and I am from Amarillo Texas. I am 13 years old, and my dream is to become a REALLY BIG actor, but nobody thinks I can do it because I live in Amarillo, do you think its possible? Also I would LOVE to take acting classes from you if I lived in LA, which is another dream for me, I love LA. Are there any tips that you could give me to help me get a job in LA or be noticed? Or any acting tips? That would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Kayley Jolly

Dear Kayley.
You need to hook into what is going on in Texas. It might be a good idea to contact the film commission there to ask them questions about production companies and talent agencies in your area. You can also attend local theatre groups to get some plays under your belt. When you are of age, apply to a great drama department in NYC or LA and you can get your degree in the performing arts while at the same time audition for film and television. Also, if you come to LA, I'd love to be your coach. It truly is a full commitment and an exciting journey. Good luck.



Dear Amy,

I am writing to you with a question that I have been wondering about. I have been searching for an agency for a long time. I live in a suburb of Milwaukee County, and although Milwaukee does have many wonderful agencies, I still found myself searching elsewhere. I would like a response to this letter, negative or positive. Please get back to me with an answer as soon as possible, as my search for an agent becomes more intense.

Nicole Warshauer
Actress, age 14

Dear Nicole,
Unfortunately, unless you're in one of the major cities, there isn't much you can do. My advice is to get amazing grades in school, work on your singing and act in local productions. When you're old enough, apply to a top school in a major city like LA or NYC. You can also get into school by singing your way in and possibly winning a scholarship. That's what I did. Good Luck.



Dear Amy,

I have an upcoming audition for the role of a psycho person who is in jail. I am used to being friendly and out-going and then taking on the personality of the character once I sit in the character's seat to read with the reader or CD... so, what is your advice?? Thanks so much.
It's important to take on the essence of the character from the moment you walk in the room, however they still need to know that you're not a psycho person. Their main concern is always, "Am I going to have to worry about this person on the set? Will this person get me fired?" Everyone in this business is afraid of his or her position and they're always making sure their boss is confident that they hired the right person. Believe me, if you're doing your work to the best of your ability during the read, you could be chewing gum and whistling "On The Good Ship Lollypop" on your way into the office and it won't really matter. If you need to get into the character quickly and it's difficult for you, you might want to not engage in a full conversation. Just be pleasant. You're there to act, not have cocktails.



Dear Amy,

First I would like to say that it is extremely good of you to offer advice to those of us who are acting challenged. My name is Stacy, I am 19 years old and I live in the Akron area of Ohio. Since I can remember I have always had a burning sensation inside me to act. Acting was never a choice for me, though. My father would say it's just a phase and I'll grow up someday, I've been in that phase all my life. I am a manager of a Subway and I'm attending college to be a paralegal. I'm not doing any of this because I want to; I'm doing it because I feel like I have no other choice. My question being, how does someone like me, whom has neither money nor traveling time, even begin in the field? I know this is something that I can do, and very well, all I need is the chance. Unfortunately, I can't find that chance.

Stacy

Dear Stacy,
It sounds to me like you do have a choice. Why are you attending college and not taking any drama classes along with your paralegal classes? If you're not making enough money at the Subway, then take on two jobs. Do whatever it takes to get the training that you need to pursue your dream. If this seems unrealistic, then wait until you graduate college, then move to an area where you can get a job as a paralegal while pursuing your lifelong passion. Save your money and get out to LA. Where there's a will, there's a way. Good Luck.
Amy Lyndon is the author of "The Lyndon Technique: 15 Guideline Map To Booking" handbook. She's appeared in over 40 films and her techniques have helped 1000's of students learn how to book jobs and work as series regulars, star in feature films and consistently earn their living as actors. To learn more about The Lyndon Technique, visit her website www.coldreadingclasses.com or call 818.760.8501.

Copyright © Amy Lyndon. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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