Know Your Politics

February 6, 2017 | (1 comment).

TODAY’S TIP: Know your politics

I never thought I’d be giving this note to actors.

In one day, I coached four different TV show auditions, including two pilots, and ALL of them were specifically reflective of today’s current political events. 

Your network TV shows are dealing with the “Muslim Ban”, women and sexual harassment from a man in power, international humanitarian workers, sex trafficking. Any of these issues sound familiar? Like you have seen in the news?

In fact, one of the shows really stumped us in prep because we didn’t know anything about a particular international topic. Actually, all of them required a little Google help. 

I say to actors to know current events and politics because this is the turmoil that writers are writing about and you will be auditioning for it soon.

Our country is in serious internal conflict right now – and this makes excellent drama for film and TV!

It’s just an era where politics are on everyone’s mind, including the TV networks.

Politics are no longer just for the independent filmmakers or documentary filmmakers to comment on.

Politics are everywhere. It’s inescapable. Every meal, every social media post, every conversation with friends and strangers… and soon on every TV episode apparently!

Of course, I want to encourage you to be active in politics because it’s an awareness that deserves and requires our attention.

But now I want you to get involved so that you will be educated in your choices as ACTORS. 

How do you play a red-state Democrat? A blue-state Republican?

How do you play a person against or for the Muslim ban?

How do you play a woman who has been sexually harassed by a man in power?

How do you play a politician who will do anything to get elected? 

How do you play an activist in any of the current protest movements?

ALL of these characters will be showing up at an audition near you. ALL of them. 

As you prep these characters in political conversations or situations, be very weary of judging your characters and not properly defending your character’s point of view.

Give your character a fair trial before you represent him or her.

Be rigorous in your prep, rigorous in your text analysis and research, thoughtful in understanding your character’s motivation, and you will be able to represent your character (no matter his/her views) with respect… whether you agree with your character’s point of view or not. (You always have to have a “bad” character to set up the “good” character!)

So read the news (I know, it’s overwhelming, just skim at least!) and let’s get you prepped for handling material with political points of view.

MY TIPS to play characters in current events on TV/Film:

  • Don’t play the issue, find what’s personal in it and express that point of view. 
  • Every person has a point of view, so put aside your judgements and investigate it thoroughly to understand it. Give every character a fair trial in your actor prep.
  • Make your character smart. Again, your character has reasons for the point of view.   Don’t ever play your character as “stupidly” making choices.
  • Google the current event. It’s crucial that you are familiar with the topic. If the character is a humanitarian worker in Syria, read about it. Look for personal stories. Those stories will inspire you the most.
  • Google images of the place, especially if it’s another country or an unfamiliar location. Have you been to Turkey or Capital Hill? Get the images in your head so it’s real for you. Better yet, take a trip to Washington DC or a local court house because that’s clearly an important setting in current events. 

It’s your civic duty to be a thorough actor who has done her/his research. 

Please take that moment to research. It will make you feel so much more prepared in the audition room and on sets. Lead the charge on being educated storytellers. 

And may we ALL be learning more and more about politics so that we are always informed. 

Comments(1)

  1. Makes a lot of sense and very good advice! Important to not judge our characters, and it also helps us as human beings to have more empathy for people with different points of view not just on tv but in life!

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