I completed the Dustin Hoffman Masterclass a few weeks ago. It’s taken me so long to sit down and compile my thoughts. What can I say? It’s been a busy summer. I can tell you I’ve put my lessons into practice, but I’m also feeling the frustration of my profession. The Dustin Hoffman Masterclass not only helped me understand my craft, but it also made me feel a little less alone.
One thing that really stood out to me was Dustin Hoffman’s confession that he was still a “struggling actor” after filming The Graduate. He was going on auditions, taking classes and feeling the rejection that acting brings. I was so relieved–because that’s how I’ve felt since filming American Exorcist. I just finished up an awesome and creatively fulfilling project, only to find myself going on auditions and rarely finding an audience for my craft.
That’s not to say that I never had an audience. I can’t wait to see The Banned Books music video. The director, Hanna Hamilton, sent me a few behind the scenes photos and I can’t get over how great the makeup looks. I also can see my character coming through the makeup, which makes me extremely proud. I’ve learned to always think small and feel what the character is feeling. Throughout this video Hanna wanted me to look over the band as if I were a benevolent motherly goddess.
See how motherly I am while ripping his face off?
This Masterclass also made me realize I had to work on my nerves. I had to be more comfortable in front of the camera. It’s really strange. When I was younger, stage fright never seemed to bother me. Sure, I got nervous–but I never questioned my performance. Maybe it was because the audience was so far away, and a camera is usually shoved right in your face.
I’m a fan of facing your fears and forcing yourself to confront what makes you uncomfortable. So, I figured the easiest way to tackle this camera fright thing was to make myself really uncomfortable by scheduling a photo shoot with Dave Sarrafian. I met Dave on the set of American Exorcist and if anyone was going to tell me to “shut up and chill out” it was him.
As I look at these photos I can see how relaxed I am. I can truly see myself. Sometimes you look at a photo of yourself on Facebook and think is that MEEEEE? I didn’t feel that way with these photos. Dave did a wonderful job, and I feel a little more comfortable. It’s a start.
Yes, acting is about pretending to be someone else–but part of an actor’s charm is the way they specifically portray a character. As Johnny Depp once said, “With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” You need to be comfortable let yourself shine through the performance. If you don’t the audience will know you’re faking it. This photoshoot not only helped me shake off a bit of that camera fright, but it showed be how great it can be when I relax and truly shine through.
After taking this class, I’m ready to learn more. As Dustin Hoffman said himself, we should always be learning. The internet has shown me that I can be creative with my education. I joined Periscope–and I’m trying to figure out how to use it. So far, I’ve decided that every Friday is #FrightFriday. (I talk about the week’s horror news and gossip.) Maybe I should do some #MonologueMondays or #SceneSundays? I can find an audience online! If I can’t go to them…might as well bring them to me. Let’s just hope they’re gentle with their opinion.
The Dustin Hoffman Masterclass was just the beginning of my artistic education. I don’t think it will ever end…and I’m okay with that.