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Conquering Your On-Camera Fears

Over the past ten years, I've met thousands of actors as a casting director and on-camera acting teacher. New actors, seasoned actors, men, women, old, young - every type you can imagine, I've seen it! But when it comes to making the leap into on-camera acting, the fears are all surprisingly similar...

Obstacle #1: My Background is in Theatre.

Of course your background is in theatre! There's no such thing as "community film." Without theatre, you wouldn't have the base you need to begin to learn the techniques necessary for TV and film.

In my experience, actors who are great are great, period. The disconnect happens when they aren't ready for the technical differences between stage and screen. The solution? Take a specific on-camera class or work with an on-camera coach that films your scene work and shows you what you look like on tape. Through practice and professional feedback, your technique will develop quickly and give you an edge over actors who are unprepared for the demands of the camera.

Solution: Have faith in your raw talent, and take it to the next level with technical training.

Obstacle #2: I Don't Look Like a Supermodel.

Flip your TV to any channel; pop any movie into your DVD player. Unless you happened to stumble onto a show based in Orange County, chances are you'll see a variety of "types," from models to, well, not models.

As casting directors, our job is to bring the directors and producers exactly the types they want. We're not looking for "model" types if the job requires a girl-next-door. We're looking for people who understand their type and aren't afraid to play it up! But type isn't everything: we're also looking for actors who are ready for the demands and specifics of on-camera work.

Solution: Be confident, be professionally trained, and be true to your type, because eventually, we'll be looking for you!

Obstacle #3: I Don't Have an Agent.

Here's a fact that puts it in perspective: every actor working in film and television who has an agent used to be without representation. So how did they get from there to here?

The key to longevity in the entertainment business isn't just talent, it's tenacity. How hard are you going to work to get to your goals? How faithfully are you going to maintain the contacts you do have so that when an opportunity comes along, there are a handful of people who know your work? And are you willing to find out where your training could be more complete so that you're ready for any role, whether it's a commercial, a pilot, or a film? Remember, there are always a million excuses not to push your career forward.

Solution: The actors who are bound for success and fulfillment are those who are willing to do the work and be ready for the opportunity around the corner.

By Dani Super

Dani Super is a Casting Director and On-Camera coach based in New York. Her on-camera technique class, "The Super Eight," is offered at Capes Coaching.