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July 5, 2011

Distortions: Your Impulses May Just Cost You The Job

Ever wonder why what you create sometimes doesn't always appear on your face the same way as you thought it would? Can this distortion or discrepancy between what you feel and what you reveal cost you a callback or even the job? You bet it can.

We already talked about how we are wired to express, the internalizers (introverts) and externalizers (extroverts). We also talked about cultural display rules*, for example, in middle America most men are taught to manage the appearance of fear and women of anger.

Another set of display rules that can challenge how we express emotions that we are trying to create are personal display rules*. Basically, personal display rules are the rules we learned growing up from our own family. They are the result of our family’s idiosyncrasies.

Growing up, have you ever heard, "take that look of your face, right now" or "don't look at me like that young man". How about,” smile at the nice man"? So, as a kid you learned the rule and you smile at the nice man. Now as an adult, you may still be smiling at the nice man, whether you feel it or not. Sometimes you may know you’re smiling, but a lot of the time, you don’t. Sometimes you can’t stop smiling.

These often unconsciously expressed display rules, be they personal, cultural or due to our wiring are called distortions.

You may be carrying many of those rules or what you can and can not express with you into your audition and they can cost you the job because you are feeling one thing and unconsciously expressing another. For example, you may want to express anger but your face is smiling or it says nothing. They want fear but you are giving them anger and so on.

If our job as actors, is to communicate recognizable and appropriate reactions and it all starts with how we personally express. Any distortions may cost you the job. Think about your rules.

Do you find yourself expressing emotion differently the your actor friend around you? Yes, your rules make you uniquely you, but your inability to give what is asked of you can put you at a serious disadvantage.

*Term coined and defined by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen