If you are not one of the lucky people who have very little distortion between what you feel and what you reveal, you run the risk of not appearing authentic, genuine - or what we most often hear - real.
So often, working with actors on their auditions - not only beginning actors but those working as well - I find what’s missing in their work is the history connected to the situation that is taking place or the words they are speaking. When there is no history the words lack color and the face often remains blank.
How do we read someone’s history? It’s in their voice, sometimes body language, but often by what’s on their face.
Where does this history come from? Specific, ideas, opinions and/or judgements rooted in the character’s past.
Think about it - we reveal our history constantly in our daily life, often in the most subtle ways. My favorite example is if a friend were to ask you if you wanted to grab a bite to eat. When they mention the name of the restaurant they want to go to, your upper lip rises up towards your nose slightly or your nose wrinkles just a bit as you shake your head no...
We do this constantly. Try it, just lift your upper lip up towards your nose or wrinkle your nose slightly and shake your head “no” and see if it doesn’t feel familiar.
Not only would your friend instantly know that you didn’t want to go to that particular restaurant, but you had a specific dislike or distaste for it. Even if you didn’t shake your head no, they would still know how you felt. How?
Because those two muscle groups you produced are distinct to the disgust family. That reaction would never occur if you just didn’t have a strong enough opinion about the restaurant, the staff working there, or the kind of food they serve. Something from the past created that opinion and it’s now registering on your face.
What I tell my actors, “your reactions are your thoughts manifested on your face.”
Understanding how you reveal your own history is the first step in understanding how a character reveals their’s.