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Updated: Mar 16

By Faith Hibbs-Clark, CMFA Founder

One of the most challenging—and rewarding—things an actor can do is portray a real-life historical character in a film. It's a chance to bring someone from the past to life and help audiences understand that person in a new way. But it's also a lot of pressure, as you must ensure your portrayal is accurate and believable. So, how do you prepare for such a role? Here are some tips.

1) Do the research. When you're first cast in the historical character role, read everything you can about the person you'll be playing. Watch any documentaries or movies about them, and read any biographies or autobiographies that exist. The more you know about their life, the better prepared you'll be to step into their shoes.

2) Pay attention to body language. Once you have a good understanding of who this person was, start looking at their body language. How did they walk? What kind of facial expressions did they make when they were happy, sad, angry, etc.? What quirks did they have? If there is not enough information about them to draw upon, then you can make logical behavioral science conclusions. For example, if you know your character was wealthy, you might use body language such as erect posture and open and expansive hand gestures. The more you mimic their physicality, the more believable your portrayal will be.

3) Pay attention to their voice. The first step is to identify the characteristics of the voice you want to mimic. Is it high-pitched or low? Is it nasal or throaty? Does your character have an accent? Once you have identified the key characteristics of the voice, it is time to start practicing. A great way to do this is to find a clip of this person's voice and play it to yourself using headphones while recording yourself speaking. As you hear the actual person's voice in your ears, try to make the sound of your own voice match.

4) Find the heart of the person. It's one thing to look and sound like the person you're playing, but it's another thing entirely to capture their essence. To do that, you need to understand what makes them tick. What motivated them? What did they care about? Answering these questions will help you find the emotional core of your performance and make your portrayal even more three-dimensional.

Take, for example, Meryl Streep's portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the movie "Iron Lady." Streep did not just mimic Thatcher's body language and voice; she also showed the audience what this woman cared about and what made her tick. Streep accessed emotions that most people never tap into. Streep has said that she draws on personal experiences to connect with her characters emotionally. This allows her to create characters that feel real and three-dimensional on screen.

Portraying a real-life historical character in film or television is both a great opportunity and a great responsibility for an actor. By doing your research, paying attention to details like body language and voice, and finding the emotional core of your character, you can give audiences a believable and accurate portrayal that they'll never forget.

Want to explore this subject more? Sign up now for this month's special topic class and get 1-on-1 feedback and personalized instruction in a small group online environment.

By Faith Hibbs-Clark, CMFA Founder

Have you ever given thought to how quickly your brain can process images? It's around 60,000 times faster than text! That makes visuals an essential component for your actor marketing materials. Plus, it doesn't even take up the full power of our brains – just half is enough for us to understand what we're seeing.

No wonder Instagram has become such a popular platform with its simple (yet powerful!) way of telling stories through pictures - understanding their psychological effects could revolutionize how actors market themselves!

Actor marketing materials can be revolutionized by understanding the psychological effects of visuals. With over 1 billion active users every month, Instagram is a powerful social media platform and a must for every successful actor.

For actors, having an account on Instagram can be a great way to show off their skills and build their personal brand. Here’s why you should start an Instagram account if you haven’t already.

1. Showcase Your Talent

Instagram is a visual medium and the perfect place to pose and perform. An Instagram account allows you to show off your talent as an actor. You can post videos or photos of yourself performing, whether an old audition tape or a performance from a play or film. You can also post clips of you rehearsing or behind-the-scenes footage from productions you’ve been part of. This not only shows people what kind of actor you are but also helps to demonstrate your range and versatility as a performer. Just be careful to ensure you have permission to share your photos and not violate copyright or non-disclosure agreements.

2. Build Connections

Having an active Instagram account will make it easier for casting directors and industry insiders to find out about you and your work. By building relationships with producers, directors, casting directors, and other actors on social media, you can increase your chances of getting noticed by those in the entertainment industry looking for new talent. Plus, it’s always nice to stay connected with fellow performers who may be able to give you free advice or provide support during difficult times in your career.

Connecting on social media with potential clients can give you a non-intrusive "point of contact" with essential decision-makers and will psychologically lead to brand recognition and trust in you. Instagram gives you a way to be seen. Remember the expression, "out of sight, out of mind?" Instagram gives you an entire platform to be "in sight" and stay in their minds.

3. Engage With Fans

Having an active presence on social media can also help build your fan base among ordinary people too! If you are going to be famous one day, now is the time to start your own fan club and give it time to build. Posting engaging content such as funny videos or behind-the-scenes photos keeps followers interested in what you have to say and helps them feel like they know more about who you are as a person—not just as an actor! Engaging regularly with fans is also important; responding to comments and messages shows them that they matter and makes them feel valued by someone they admire!

Instagram is quickly becoming one of the best tools available for actors looking to further their careers. By connecting with potential fans, establishing themselves as an expert in the industry, and networking with other professionals, actors can use this powerful platform to gain exposure and build relationships that could lead to exciting new opportunities! If you're not already taking advantage of what Instagram has to offer, now is the time! Start posting today!


And, while you are at it, follow me at @communicationmethodforactors this month for a chance to win a free private coaching session ($150 value). Be sure to send me a direct message on Instagram to say hello. I look forward to connecting with you. 1 winner every month is randomly picked from new followers. You can enter with multiple accounts to increase your odds, but you can only win once. No cash value.

Where do you play?

  • Instagram

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Nowhere! Hate social media!

You can vote for more than one answer.

By Faith Hibbs-Clark, Founder of CMFA

“A kiss is just a kiss..." Right? This is a famous line from As Time Goes By, a song written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931. But in an audition, a kiss can be a disaster waiting to happen, and especially problematic when you are self-taping and alone.

Since the onset of the pandemic, most film and television auditions have become self-tape auditions. But even before the pandemic, most auditions were "off-camera reader" style which meant that you were alone on camera. Whether at home or at the casting office, there was no easy way to handle it.

So what can an actor do if a scene calls for a kiss? Before you start practicing the "air kiss" and risk making a complete fool of yourself, let's consider a good alternative:

Skip it altogether. Sometimes a kiss in a scene doesn't do anything to move the story along, so the easiest solution for an actor is to avoid that action altogether. 

You can communicate the intimacy of the scene without the physicality. There are many ways to convey affection in a scene without the need for an actual kiss. The writer might simply be wanting to show the connection that the characters have at that point in the story. 

Consider the following 6 possibilities:

1. Proxemics - In body language, we talk about proxemics which is the study of the human use of space. Less physical distance between people can indicate intimacy in the relationship. As an actor, you can try leaning in slightly to show intimacy.

2. Breathing - Our breathing becomes slower and heavier right before a kiss. We also tend to breathe through our noses in anticipation of locking lips. This type of breathing can help communicate the imminent kiss without the actor actually having to pucker up.

3. Tone of voice - We have all heard of the person with a voice like a "velvet glove." The sound of it can make us melt. Try using a softer, more intimate tone in your voice to show the scene's intimacy. Your voice will become slower, softer, and raspier.

4. Eyes - Humans seek mutual eye contact. We love to gaze into another's soul through their eyes. It is an instinct we are born with, so when someone temporarily denies gaze, it makes the on-looker want to get our attention again. If you intentionally don't look and then slowly look at the other person in the scene, the action can feel like a kiss.

5. Color of clothing - Wear red. Red is a primal color. It is the first color a baby sees when it is born. It is no surprise that it conjures up other primal feelings of sexuality as well. Before hi-def cameras, actors were told not to wear red in an audition, but that is no longer true, so turn the heat up and bust out your best reds.

6. Lighting. - One of the many benefits of self-tape auditions is that you are in complete control. If you want to communicate intimacy in an audition, try dimming the lights a little to create a softer glow. You can even experiment with some warmer tones in your lighting.

Remember that you are communicating a story. Not everything has to be shown to communicate the feeling of the story. Explore these possibilities to help you use the power of "acting science" to book more film and television roles.

Want to learn more and practice these kinds of scripts?

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