Should we lose what makes us us to get a role? 


Actor and Blogger Luke Newey

Picture the scene: After spending the last six hours serving customers who can only be described as spawns of satan and dealing with a dictator of a manager, you get a phone call for an audition you’ve been waiting for. Whether it be a dream role, a job that can get you out of stacking shelves for the next 6 months, or even a blessing financially. So you prepare; you stay up all night learning lines, you get your less then enthusiastic housemate to help you out and you carefully examine your wardrobe debating whether your favourite black shirt is “Too black”.

The day of the audition: you arrive with plenty of time a bundle of nerves but with a twinge of excitement in the back of your mind. Though you know from plenty of experience by now not to get your hopes up, you just can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe this could be it: Your big break. The one that will give you the opportunity to stick two fingers up to your manger and dramatically exit with an up lifting 80’s ballad in the back of your mind. The one that in years from now when you’re discussing your career on the Graham Norton show, you’ll entertainingly recall the role that “changed your life”.

In a matter of seconds, the audition is over and though you feel it went well, you get the feeling that the director doesn’t feel the same way…. Days pass and it becomes obvious to you that you aren’t getting this role. You pester your poor agent asking why you didn’t get the part and more importantly, who did get the part (while secretly in the back of your mind praying that that knob from LAMDA you met at the audition didn’t get it.)

In some kind of miracle you DO get feedback and it’s made you feel even worse then before. “Oh yes… well we loved meeting them its just… they just weren’t what we were looking for THIS time. Yes… Yes their look was a bit TOO distinctive and I’m afraid the voice wasn’t quite suitable for the part… Yes well hope this helps. Best of luck with everything. We’ve got to start our rehearsals now…. Yes our lead is from LAMDA we’re very excited”. Great.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there before. There is nothing we want more then to fit the mould of of what the director wants but alas, we stand out from the pack, sometimes it’s for the wrong reasons and sometimes it’s for the right reasons. Sometimes our look is too “out there” (whatever that means…) or the tone of our voice doesn’t quite scream Lady Macbeth. (If I had a pound for everytime my voice has been called ‘distinctive’ or ‘unusual’ in an audition, I could pay off my university fees and still have enough left to buy a house in Kensington).

The question is, do we lose what makes us us in order to get a role? What I have learnt is that we are who we are for a reason and if we lose this, do we perhaps lose a bit of us? The last thing a director wants is to see a hundred auditions that are all exactly the same. Though it may not land you that certain part, why not stand out from the pack? Why not embrace what makes you, you? You will never be right for everything, but in a future director’s mind, you are exactly what they want.

So even though that job wasn’t for you and even though you will be back under the thumb of the manager from hell, you’ll be able to say that you did you to the fullest (as wanky as it sounds).

What you have is what is going to help you in years to come. Think of your favourite actor, you’ll probably find there’s a uniqueness about them that they have embraced and what people will know them for.

Where would Morgan Freeman be without his Booming bass voice? Where would Marilyn Monroe be without her voluptuous figure and soft sexy voice? Barbra Streisand has said in previous interviews that producers criticised her nose shape and told her it would hold her back. She explained that her nose was part of her heritage and as long as she could sing and act, the shape of her nose shouldn’t matter. She embraced what she had rather than throw it away just to please a few douchebags, and has gone on to win an academy award, 4 Golden Globes and 3 Emmys. Take THAT Hollywood.

All of these actors didn’t conform and neither should you. Be you. Be proud of you, because before you know it, it will work itself out in the end, and you will indeed be on the Graham Norton show explaining the key to success is “Sticking with who you are”. And if you don’t believe me, then perhaps you’ll take the advice from Judy Garland herself:

“Always be a first rate version of yourself, then a second rate version of somebody else”.

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