Content Creation and Social Media at Texas State

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am a college student. And, surprise, this blog has been a requirement for my Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media class, if you didn’t already know. I genuinely feel as if I have learned so much from this class, especially elements that I can take forward with me in my professional career when I graduate next Spring.

With my site, I would want to include more consistent content. Honestly, if it weren’t for class deadlines I may not have remembered to post. Which is sad because I actually enjoy writing about something that I’ve always been so passionate about. In terms of content promotion, I think that reaching out to my Facebook friends would have been a great way to get more views and interactions.

With this project, I really enjoyed the freedom and creativity I was allowed to put forth into my blog posts. Like most assignments, of course there were some guidelines and rules, however this class also provided me with the luxury of being personal and genuine. I never thought that I had to sacrifice what I believe in and what I care about in order to pass the class. This is something that will definitely benefit my future in a way that in my future endeavors I won’t be so hesitant to be creative and professional in my own way. It’s exciting to know that I can take my passions alongside me anywhere I work.

When it came time to check my website statistics, I was expecting a few visitors for each post but boy was I in for a surprise. The week of March 18 was actually my popular week in regard to views and visitors. This week also contained my most popular post which was able to reach 22 views! This post was the one in which I reviewed a similar blog to mine. I tagged the woman, whose blog I wrote about, on twitter where she ended up following me and tweeting me back! This probably explains the influx in views during this week and why I have reached 11 people in the United Kingdom and eight people from Australia! I was definitely not expecting to reach people internationally.

Look at these Stats!

Overall, this assignment and this class in general has opened my eyes and prepared me to take on the world of journalism and mass communications as I venture forward into my career. If you, the reader, are interested in studying Mass Communications in college, I highly recommend the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Texas State University!

Thanks for tuning in xx.

Look Good, Feel Good…Confidence is Key!

For this blog post, I thought that we should take a break from all this information and talk about something fun: makeup. Now you may be thinking that makeup is so random and has nothing to do with acting. Well, my friends, you’re wrong on that one. I believe that the primary use of makeup is to enhance our features in order to feel and look like our best selves. With makeup, people tend to feel more confident, which is one characteristic an actor should always carry themselves with.

Confidence truly does come from within, that I do believe. However, sometimes we need a little bit of a push or a reminder and I think makeup does just that. Think about the casting director and what they are seeing when you are auditioning. If you walk into the room with a reserved, intimidating demeanor, odds are you already didn’t get the part. This business is collaborative and fast paced, therefore in need of easy-to-work- with, sociable, and confident people in order to produce the best quality of art in a sound amount of time

I will be honest, though. I am also a college student and practically live in t-shirts and running shorts; I don’t wear makeup often. However, when I’m about to go somewhere or do something where I feel like I want to give myself a little extra confidence and motivation, I’ll put on a little makeup to get me through to be my best self. If you would like to get some more perspective on the correlation between makeup and confidence, you should check out this New York Times page with several outlooks and articles.

Just remember that everyone is beautiful in their own way and if you feel the most confident with a bare face, then rock that bare face! On the other hand, if you feel like you may strong with confidence under certain circumstances, makeup may enhance that confidence that you already have deep inside. When you look good, you feel good!

Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances

ACTING TIP: Rehearsing in costume may change the way you carry yourself and may allow easy access to really dive into the character!

If you haven’t already, at some point in your acting career you will hear someone say the phrase, “acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” This phrase was actually coined by acting guru Sanford Meisner. Essentially, Meisner preached that an actor use instinctive emotions while acting instead of thinking too much into the character itself. Typically, people will teach three components of the technique: repetition, emotional preparation, and improvisation. Let’s talk about that.

Repetition is just about what you think it is. This exercise is an extremely common practice among beginning actors. It’s simple yet effective; two actors face each other and repeat the same phrase back-and-forth in different ways (tone, volume, inflection, etc.). This exercise brings out genuine emotion from the actor the longer the repetition goes on. The whole point of acting is to not look like your acting, and this is an exercise that can essentially aid in an actor becoming “real.”

Emotional preparation, I think, is a key component that an actor should grasp if wanting to take acting seriously as a career. In this case, “acting is doing,” in a sense that if you are portraying a character experiencing something that you personally haven’t, you, as the actor, must find another way to draw genuine emotion instead of just “pretending.” If you are cast as a pregnant woman, for example, but have never given birth before, you may want to talk to women who have given birth, watch a live birth, etc., in order to pull emotion You hear stories of some actors completely losing their sense of self after filming because they essentially become the character they have portrayed and emotional preparation is the reason why. For example, the late Heath Ledger in his role as The Joker in The Dark Night. It’s an extremely effective technique if used wisely.

All in all, the Meisner technique is highly acclaimed and used by numerous A-list actors including Allison Janney, Jeff Goldblum, and Jack Nicholson. Much like Stanislavski, Meisner preaches authenticity and ingenuity of acting so both techniques are often used intertwined. Different characters and circumstances may call for different techniques!

Let’s Talk Technique

In the picture above, you see a group of actors on stage rehearsing a curtain call (a snap from the last show I was in, actually). What you can’t see in the photo is a group of actors that each have their own process and way of creating a character and bringing that forth to the stage with the other actors. There are many different acting techniques out there that you can follow, but, I see that techniques are like suggestions that can be intertwined and used in unison to create a system that works for each individual actor. While there are so many different methods and techniques, I will focus on the most popular methods used today: Stanislavski, Meisner, and Stella Adler.

In this blog post, I will be going over the Stanislavski method but stay tuned for future blog posts where I’ll be going in depth on the other methods as well.

Konstantin Stanislavski was born in Russia in 1863 and passed away in 1938. His technique can also be known as “method acting.” The whole point of method acting is for an actor to get a grip on real authentic emotions from past experiences in order to develop a true-to-life character. For example, if the character you have been cast as has a scene where he/she gets broken up with by their significant other, you may want to draw emotion from the time you had a devastating breakup. But, what if you’ve never experienced that before? Draw emotion from another time in your life where you felt the way you imagine your character to be feeling in that moment.

This method of acting can be used in both on-camera and stage environments and is still being taught in acting classes at all levels. There are countless books, articles and videos that speak on Stanislavski’s life and his system that he developed, like this one I have hyperlinked for you here.

Again, there are countless acting techniques out there and I will touch on more of them in future blog posts. Remember that each actor eventually creates their own personalized acting technique that is typically a mix of the systems and methods we will discuss here. Don’t be afraid to explore all different methods and systems and eventually, you will find your technique.

Auditions: The Actors’ Job Interview

If you’ve been following along with my previous blog posts, you now have everything you need to step foot in the audition room. However, it’s important to first be familiar with the various kinds of auditions that you may encounter throughout your career. Auditioning is the most daunting and frustrating part of acting, but soon enough you’ll get the hang of it!

With every audition, you must always bring along your updated headshot and resume (check out my previous posts!) even if the audition notice doesn’t ask you to do so. Always try to push your resume out, you never know who may come across it! Also, when it comes to your appearance there are some do’s and don’t’s : do pin your hair out of your face, don’t put on too much makeup, do dress presentable, don’t look sloppy. This goes for ALL auditions; both stage and on-camera.

There are tons of different types of auditions out there but in the beginning of your career, you will most likely encounter these: cold reads, prepared cold reads, monologues, and self-tapes. It seems like a lot, but I promise they are simple to follow and being knowledgeable about the type of audition you are going into will make you that much more confident when the time comes.

Cold read auditions are auditions in which you don’t prepare an audition piece or get any instruction regarding what you’ll be auditioning with. Often times, at the audition, the director will hand you a copy of a part of the script, assign you a character, and then you go for it. In the theatre, for a cold read audition I highly advise that you find a copy of the script and read it before you go; this shows the director that you prepared and have somewhat of an idea about what’s happening in the scene you’ve been given. For any on-camera auditions, the director may be kind enough to send you a copy of the entire script prior to the audition, but you may not always get that lucky. With this type of audition, it’s important that as soon as you have your hand on the side (audition piece), read over it until the director instructs you to start. Ask questions about the scene (what happened prior, the setting, etc.), think of ways you can work with your character and, if other actors are present, coordinate with them. The director typically gives the actors a few seconds to a minute before the cold read begins, so breathe.

Prepared cold reads are much like cold reads in the way that you are not given the audition material prior to the audition or any instructions on what to prepare. However, for a prepared cold read, which happens primarily in the theatre, the director will give actors a few minutes to pair up and work on a scene before auditioning with it. This also typically happens at the end of cold read auditions if there is ample time left. Be sure to pair up fast (sometimes you will be assigned someone) and really work with the other actor to create a scene that’s unique and memorable. This type of audition you are given the time to really make the scene, and your audition, come to life so spend your time wisely.

Monologues, monologues, monologues. The stereotypical staple for actors. But, to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I auditioned with a monologue. These auditions are still out there, though, so it’s important to be familiar with them. A monologue is a long speech given by one actor; a very scary feeling for me. There are four different types of monologues that you could be asked to provide: classical comedic, modern comedic, classical dramatic, modern dramatic. The director will sometimes tell you which one, but, it should be pretty easy to figure out. For example, if you’re auditioning for Romeo and Juliet, you would want to prepare a classical dramatic monologue. Rehearse your monologue with a friend or an acting coach, have it confidently memorized, and practice in front of a camera or a mirror. Monologues are often used in theatre but is sometimes used in on-camera auditions as well.

Last but not least, self-tapes. A self-tape is an audition where you record yourself performing a monologue or reading a scene and then you send it in to the casting director. This audition is primarily used in the film, tv, and commercial industries but may sometimes be seen in the theatre world if you can’t physically be present for an audition. The good thing about self-tapes is that you have the opportunity to know what your audition looks like before the casting director does, you can record it from the comfort of your own home, and, if you mess up, you can simply just stop recording and start over. Casting directors often give specific instructions when it comes to self-tapes so be sure to follow them to a ‘T’ and try to show a little personality in your video.

See? Auditioning isn’t THAT frightening. Well, maybe a little. But that’s all part of the excitement and thrill of acting. The most important thing about auditioning is knowing that there will always be more auditions. Don’t feel defeated if you mess up, don’t get the part, etc. Auditioning is a way we learn as an actor, we’re put on the spot in some situations and we must fail a few times before we succeed and really get the hang of it and know what to expect and improve on the next time around. Not nailing an audition can be tough on the soul, but if you’re really serious about your career as an actor, you’ll get right back up and keep on going. Experience and determination is the key to auditioning.

For more tips and tricks about auditioning, check out these 10 tips from The Producer’s Perspective.

B.A.B.E. : The Modern Blog for Actors

Finding success in the acting industry can be tough. Many people in the industry tend to look out for themselves above everyone else if that means that they can get their time in the spotlight. I totally understand though. Competition is a huge part of being a successful actor.

While the competition can be brutal and it’s important that you, as an actor, to fight for your own spotlight moment, it’s also essential that us actors stick together and lift each other up whenever we can. Luckily, I have found a blog quite similar to mine run by professional Australian, UK, and European actress Angela Peters.

Angela’s blog is quite pleasant to look at and very simple to navigate. As you can see, she has a page dedicated to her story, a page dedicated to useful resources for every actor, and a planner that you can utilize to reach your maximum potential in your craft. She also includes positive reviews from other professional actors and businesses that have worked with her and followed her advice and resources which provides credibility to her work.

Angela also offers personal services in which she mentors fellow actors looking to kick-start their career which is a warming, personal touch to her entire facade. I have actually never looked into having a mentor until I found this blog! Alongside her personal services, she also gives fellow industry professionals a platform to share their advice on her site as well. I have actually never looked into having a mentor until I found this blog!

Angela also has a page dedicated to amazing resources for every actor out there: beginners, actors who have children, audition materials, etc. If you are in need of a refreshing, encouraging, uplifting, and all around resourceful blog for all of your acting needs and desires (besides mine, of course) be sure to check out Angela’s blog and show her some love!

Remember, all of us actors are all fighting for the same dream and going through similar struggles and stages in our careers. It’s important that we lift each other up and lend a helping hand to those who may need it.

The Actor’s Resume

Just like any other job, an actor must have a professional and proper resume when applying/auditioning for quite literally everything. An actors resume, however, is quite different from the average “office-job” resume that most of us are familiar with. Don’t be scared, though. Writing your acting resume is not too drastically far off from the typical job application resume, there are just a few tweaks and additions that casting directors will be looking for.

First things first, it’s important to know where your resume belongs once it’s all typed up and printed out. This is important to know because it will be stapled to the back of your headshot. Remember that headshots must be printed out on 8×10 photo paper and printer paper primarily is sized 8.5×11. Bottom line is that you will need to trim your resume paper to fit on the back of your headshot. Because of the trimming that needs to happen, you need to make sure to leave ample space on the document you’re typing your resume on so that nothing gets cut off or looks messy.

You may see that some actors have their resume directly printed on the back of their headshot. This is okay, but highly inconvenient both for the actor and the casting director. Casting directors may need to separate your resume and headshot during the casting process and you will be needing to constantly update your resume which could get pricey if you’re wanting to print your resume directly on the back of your headshot. Just don’t do it.

Here is a photo of my current acting resume. I took the picture directly off of the word document in which I typed it out so that you can see what it looks like before it’s printed out and attached to the back of my headshot. As you can see, I don’t have an excessive amount of credits and because of this I wasn’t shy about spacing and font-size to really fill up the page.

Let’s analyze from top to bottom. You want your name to be noticeable and at the very top. You want them to remember your name! Directly below or next to your name, you will want to display your agency, if you have one, instead of your personal contact information. If you have yet to get signed to an agency, be sure to list your contact information (phone number, email, address) and your personal stats (eye color, hair color, height, weight, dress/pant size). In a future blog post, I will go over acting agency information

The next thing on your resume will be credits. Currently, I only have stage credits. Your most recent and your most prominent roles should be listed first. Some actors with an extensive line of credits in both on camera and stage acting will have two separate resumes, one for stage credits and the other for on camera credits. However, if you are just starting out, like me, you can simply add another category for on camera work on your resume beneath or above your stage credits.

After your credits, you will want to list your training. This section is important because casting directors are more likely to cast someone who is constantly trying to improve themselves in their craft. It also shows that you are an educated actor and you know the basics and logistics of being an actor. Professionalism!

The last thing you will want to include in your resume are any special skills you may have that can separate you from the “competition” and give you an advantage in the casting room. Think of some qualities and skills that you have that others may not.

For more information and tips regarding an actors resume, go ahead and check out this link which goes over everything in more detail. Remember that industry standards change every so often to make sure that you do your own research in the future to make sure your headshots and resume are up to date.

The Actors Headshot

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Now that you have learned about and acquired a certain skill set when it comes to acting, it’s almost time for you to step into the audition room. There are a few things you will need to work on first, though. For example, nearly every audition that you go to, the director or casting director will ask you to provide a headshot and resume.

These may seem like simple products to put together but in reality, there are specific industry standards that can often be a tell-tale sign of an unprofessional actor when not taken into proper consideration.

In this blog post, I will only be covering acting headshot industry standards, but stay tuned for my next blog post where I will go over what is expected of an actor’s resume.

If you are planning on taking your career as an actor seriously, it’s best that you find a reputable photographer, preferably one that specializes in taking headshots for actors. Here is a link to the photographer that I worked with on my most recent headshots (pictured above.)

When it comes down to booking a photographer, look for someone who shoots people that are similar to the way you look. You can easily decipher this by quickly scrolling through the photographer’s portfolio. Does their photography style utilize lighting that compliments your skin tone/color? Does this photographer primarily work with people in your age range? While it may seem silly at first to find a photographer who shoots people with similar attributes as you, it gives you an idea of how your photos will turn out.

Most headshot photographers will price their sessions based on how long you would like to shoot and how may “looks” you would like to have. These “looks” are essentially different shots of “characters” that you are willing to play and can play very well. Some examples of commonly used looks are “girl next door,” “business man/woman,” “quirky/nerdy,” etc. Think about what represents not only you as a person but also what you can bring to the table in an audition.

Having a vast variety of looks can make it easier when you are preparing for an audition. For example, if you have an audition for a comedic style show, having a headshot that fits the style of the character you’re auditioning for can give you leverage when it comes down to making decisions on the directors end in the casting process.

An extremely important aspect of having a professional industry style headshot is the way your headshot is formatted. What’s expected from an actor’s headshot in regard to professionalism is size and a border. Your headshots must be printed on 8×10 photo paper with a glossy finish. Most headshots will also have a border with your name on it. If you prefer to go by a stage name, use that instead of your legal name! Your photographer should be able to format your headshot with the correct border with your name on it in the bottom right hand corner so that all you have to do is find a printing service to print the finalized headshot on the correct photo paper.

A proper headshot shows professionalism above all else. Headshots also work in a way that can make you memorable in the casting process and to a director. If you nail an audition but your headshot is not up to date with industry standards…better luck next time!

On the back of your finalized, printed headshot, you will staple your resume so the casting director can easily flip back and forth. I will touch more on this in the next post.

I,ll see you next time!

All the Love,
Lauren Lacey Erskine

Getting Started…

Just like any other activity or profession, you must first learn the basics and how to get started and acting is no exception. While I am not quite yet deemed a “professional” actress, I have been actively practicing the art for quite some time now so I’d like to think that I’ve got a pretty good idea on how to get your feet wet in acting.

The first and most important thing you must do is to find yourself as an actor. What genre do you think you would perform best in? If you’re a relatively funny person, you should probably lean towards comedy. If you find Shakespeare entertaining, maybe try going for classic style shows. This is all a matter of knowing and meditating on your own personal strengths and weaknesses. Many people may say that you should audition and explore every single type of genre, but why push yourself artistically in a direction where you know that you won’t thrive and put on a genuine performance?

Once you have an idea of what genre you would personally perform best in, it’s now time to educate yourself. I learned most of my base acting education in high school with my high school theatre company. However, if you are past the age of being a high school-er, there are still ample opportunities to perfect your craft. One of the best, yet most expensive, ways to do this is to graduate college with a BFA in acting. I have personally chosen a different collegiate path which is why I am continuing to educate myself in regard to acting with local acting classes taught by seasoned professionals. While these classes do come with a price most of the time, it is cheaper than four years of a college education. Here is a link to a number of local acting classes in Austin, Texas that you should check out if you’re interested! If you’d like to go an even cheaper route, you may also consider visiting your local bookstore where you can find a vast array of acting specific books much like this one that I recently picked up.

This book centers on the Meisner acting technique. There are numerous acting techniques that I will cover in future blog posts.

In conclusion, no matter what stage you are in life, it’s never to late to get your feet wet in acting. There are countless resources in which you can learn and perfect your craft. Just remember that you should always put your comfort and personal capabilities at the top of your priorities. If you push yourself to do something you’re uncomfortable with or that you know you won’t excel in, you will only be negatively compromising yourself as an actor. With that being said, it’s also important that you are constantly challenging yourself as well, just in a way to where you are comfortable.

Theatre: Acting and Auditions

Hello there!

My name is Lauren Erskine, I’m 20 years old, I’m from Houston, Texas, and my favorite thing to do in my free time is watch a good movie. Amongst many other things I’m also a Mass Communications and Public Relations major at Texas State University while also pursuing a career in acting on the side. I developed a love for performing at a very young age and over the years I have learned and experienced quite a bit regarding the many elements of being an actor. While it may not seem like it at first glance, the world of acting has many different layers and levels. Since acting is an art form, many people go about practicing this art in their own unique way and I figure that with this blog I can share my own opinions, techniques, and experiences.

An outsiders’ perspective of acting may be that it’s just overly-confident people playing make-believe and who aren’t scared of doing it in front of a ton of people. In reality, there are so many more moving parts and elements that go into creating a character and ensuring that it really comes to life. With this blog I would like to reach fellow actors who are also on the same path as me all the way to people who know little to nothing about the world of acting. As an actor myself, I learn so much from other actors and I hope that I can do the same through this platform. For the people who are slightly lost on the subject, not only do I hope you become more enlightened on the subject, but also hope that you learn more about your favorite Broadway and movie stars and how they came to be your favorite character on screen or on stage.

When it comes to “making it big” in this industry, there’s a lot that an actor needs to learn, master, overcome, know, etc. Through this blogging platform I’d like to explore more of what the most critically acclaimed actors had to go through and overcome to get to where they are today. I mean, once upon a time these people were just like us, and now they make a living doing what they love! I would also like to explore the various acting techniques and teachers, what makes a perfect headshot, the different audition styles and how to nail them, and so much more! On a deeper level, I would also like to address how acting can affect an actor on a personal level and how it can impact an audience. Overall, there’s so much that I look forward to learning, sharing, and teaching through this blog. Let the journey begin!

Here is a link to one of my favorite actors, Meryl Streep, talking about the struggles of breaking into acting and how the industry has changed. This website is also one of my go-to sites for everything acting related!

            You can also follow my personal acting journey on instragram: @laurenerskine_actress

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