Metrics and Mentors

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Who is your favorite actor? Can you tell me what it is about them that makes you like them? Is it their look, their acting style, or the projects they choose to do?

Now–ask these same questions to your neighbor. This neighbor doesn’t have to be anyone who works in the entertainment industry. In fact, the answers are infinitely more interesting when they don’t. Did they answer the same as you, or are you shocked and appalled? (You like Dane Cook’s acting technique…huh?)

The reason for the difference is because you’re using a different set of metrics to decide what is good or bad. Each person has a different set of standards–that’s why if you ask ten different people these questions you’ll get ten different answers. This same concept applies to advice given as well. Ask ten different experts how you should format your acting resume and you’ll likely get ten different answers.

Well…what is the RIGHT answer? And who are you supposed to listen to?

That is the question of the day. There has traditionally been an sense of indignity towards actors because many people don’t understand the acting process. The same applies to filmmakers, artists, and just about anyone in the creative industries. The standards that the Creatives use to judge work is not the same that the general public does.

So how do you fix it? Start off by finding someone you trust. Find a mentor, someone who has worked in the industry and has had some degree of success (whether commercially or artistically is up to you). What is it that made them successful? What sort of things do they look for when they judge success? Find other people that fit your mentor’s model for success and ask them the same questions. Chances are you’re going to find that the successful people are using the same four or five items to judge success. Find out what they are and Voila! You now have your set of metrics for creative success.

Follow your model so you can be successful, then become a mentor for someone else so you can pass that model on. Eventually the metrics for success in the entertainment industry will get passed on to the general public, and we won’t have to watch Dane Cook giving any acceptance speeches. 🙂
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One thought on “Metrics and Mentors

  1. Good point! Standards in Acting. Most people laud the actors who are a different character each time they are on stage or screen and those actors who are most acclaimed are often those who are expert at bringing a different,detailed, yet natural character, atmosphere(sense of place), script analysis and literary knowledge to each work they play. I spend everyday of my life helping actors to get resources and knowledge to do their work. I am dismayed when known actors play themselves whether they are doing a contemporary piece, a period piece from the 1700’s. It is not enough to learn an accent to play a character from Brazil in the 1920’s if you are from NYC!
    There is such a need for all Actors to learn about different cultures that you might incorporate in your pieces, learning about cultures you don’t think you might play. This taught me that someone could be called to use a Latin/Bronx accent even if they come from Delaware or Cleveland. What if you are given 2 days to get it right for “picture” in a feature or Off Broadway. I remember having two days to get “off book” for the role of Sindiswa(a South African teacher)in an Off-Broadway on Theater Row, NYC play called “Born in the RSA”. I had done the part of Thenjiwe Bona in the first production in NYC and because of the magnitude of the part they asked me to step in to the role with 2 days notice (and hold the script just in case for the first day). Since I was familiar with the role they thought it would be easily for me to do this major role.
    Your craft makes a difference whether the audience knows the process or not!
    I’m a Director, Instructor and facilitator of NEC Rep and in NYC. Program participants are professional actors chosen by audition to be part of the program. They network with other performers, get a solid training in the techniques of Michael Chehkov,Philip Meister and Mario Silletti of National Shakespeare Co. Conservatory, Joan Evans and Jim Tripp (now at Stella Adler’s Conserv), Cicely Berry (voice Royal Shakespeare, London). They explore classical training as it relates historically and culturally to ethnic performers, for a truly wholistic approach to acting.
    We produce a website to help actors get the connect with organizations who will help them create and produce their work, give them opportunities, grants, business training because, yes you are a business.
    Our Website: Please look at it and make comments there if you are inspired to.

    Marie McKinney
    NEC Rep
    212 582 5860

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