Sam Christensen needs you to be yourself

As actors, we spend a lot of time pretending to be others. We get in the room and (hopefully) our minds go straight to the work. However, as we all know, the moment before the audition starts is just as important. How do you show not just your skills and techniques as an actor, but who you are? How to be “authentically” yourself. Sam Christensen (who has worked with Leslie Jones, Will Wheaton, and Zooey Deschanel to name a few) helps you play the most complicated character- yourself.

 

What is the most difficult part about giving actors Image Consulting?

 

First, I don’t offer Image consulting.  There are certainly some consultants who sit one on one with actors and advise, “be this, be that….wear this, wear that….get these kinds of pictures”  I suppose this kind of consulting might be beneficial if there were a formula for an actor’s marketing success.  But, in the several decades I’ve been lucky enough to work with actors at every level of career development I haven’t found that formula.  But, I have discovered one important truth that outweighs any other.  And, it’s this: authenticity, uniqueness and signature audition and performance are the attributes that do assure progress.

 

Secondly, and here’s the answer to your question, the most challenging aspect of helping an actor define a distinct image is getting them to let go of their hope for some ‘one size, fits all’ formula and, then, to resolve the technical difficulties that make the ease of authenticity, in any setting, a challenge to all human beings.

 

So, instead of consulting about image, I’ve created a workshop that mimics the actual process of auditioning and performing.  My goal, and I think we do a great job of achieving it, is to solve the authenticity challenge so that the actor can move forward to create a successful marketing campaign and a signature performance and audition style.

 

The podcast you did with “Actor Things” was incredibly informative and helpful. You mentioned that the “type” aspect of casting has too much emphasis put on it, can you elaborate?

I’ve noticed over the years that actors are often preoccupied with defining their ‘type’.  In a certain way this makes perfect sense – “if I knew my type exactly, then, I could better submit myself and I could make the best use of my time in seeking out roles for which I’m ideally suited.”

 

However, what’s forgotten are a few keys factors.  First, one’s type is fairly obvious to all.  It’s apparent that the six foot, all-American, blondish actor is not going to be playing the Dali Lama.  Then, there’s the blue collar vs. white collar discussion. Notice that several of those fairer six-footers – Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Leonardo DiCaprio – have all worn both dress shirts and work shirts in their various roles.  Lastly, the same attractive, younger female actress may play a privileged upper East-sider on ‘Girls’ while being cast as a trailer park assault victim on and episode of ‘CSI – somewhere or other’.  How a given actor is seen and ‘typed’ is far more dependent on the needs of the casting director and the show than any other single factor.

 

The more important question is this: when ability and an audition have put a performer into serious contention, a “call-back” from which an actor can actually be cast, does a given actor stand out?  Now, type is not the issue – everyone at a call-back is the right type and acting ability is no longer in question as everyone at a call-back has proven their viability.  The issue is this setting is identity, can an actor be memorable when reading with several other proven contenders, all reading the same lines and all the right type?  Individual authenticity becomes the crucial factor in the environment where one can actually be cast, or, at least, be remembered distinctly for future opportunities.

 

What advice can you give to young or beginning actors? What is the best way to figure out how they are perceived?

A firm grip on identity and how to succinctly define it for others is an essential tool to support study, roll out effective marketing and ensure a positive introduction to the creative community in which the actor hopes to spend a lifetime.

In addition, listen carefully to how others describe you – in your family, your education, among your friends.  Listen and collect the responses, avoiding getting ‘stuck’ on any particular piece of praise or critique, but instead looking for the patterns in how others describe you.  Those trends in outside perception invaluable guide to the sense others have which sometimes differs from how we each see ourselves.  Authenticity is, in part, based on recognizing outside perception and integrating it the our take on ourselves.

 

With authenticity confidently in place, the answers to marketing questions, auditions challenges and performance quandaries become much more clear.

 

After all, each actor is not only offering their talents and craftsmanship, but also their unique individuality – being remembered and career progress are dependent on personal authenticity.  It’s the only response to the constant request….”just be yourself.”

 

Come and let me tell you more and answer any questions at a Preview/Demonstration at T.Schreiber Studios, Wednesday, September 7, at 8:00 pm

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