A Word To and For the Wise

A word to and for the wise.

Or, in the event you’re one of those extreme cases of being an over indulgent, self aggrandizer; living life with a singular lust for ones own selfish betterment, please disregard the word “wise,” which I’ve selected as the title alliteration for this blog.

Contrary to what you may think the word “wise” connotes, the facts of life prove, without question, from day one of our existence on this planet, even the most self-assured, self-serving, and self-reliant people we happen to think we are, still owe some degree of our success to some individual other than ourselves.

In other words… I took the long way around to get to my point .

Saying, “I made it on my own,” is bull—-, .

If it were possible to be totally on your own, who would be there to hire you? Who would be there to applaud? Who would be there to hand you a Kleenex? And, if you continue to read on, where would you be without the benefit of someone like Harvey Kalmenson to express glee, satisfaction, or complete disillusionment over your display of social grace – or lack of it?

Okay, okay. What brought this on? You might be curious. I usually don’t waste my time in a display of angst over having been exposed to an individual who brings to the party nothing more than a richly cultivated superiority complex. I am duty-bound to share this incident, in order to help provide a guide of what an actor should not do, say, or put on display, especially when the recipients being shown this lack of graciousness, happen to be in the position of providing work for you.

“Don’t even think about biting the hand that feeds you.”

Endear yourself, or at least make an attempt at faking it. Certainly, this isn’t just for actors. Most parents at least attempt to instill a variety of good social grace attitudes within their children. There are some parents whom, for whatever the reason, fail. The individual who was the stimulus for this blog, undoubtedly was brought up under the poorest of parental environments.

Instead of me going into all the things our culprit was guilty of, I’d prefer to offer a few tips that might be of some help to your future as an actor.


* Treat everyone you meet as a possible work source. ”Today’s receptionist, tomorrow’s boss.”

* Learn how to remain quiet. You’ll hear more if you’re not talking.

* Make sure your questions are pertinent.

* Never tell a teacher that you already knew the points he or she was making. Say the points being made stimulated your memory, and now you’re able to make good use of a technique you had forgotten about.

* Visibly show as much attention to your teacher or coach as you possibly can.

* Avoid yawning.

* Avoid giving your opinion unless it is requested.

* Never criticize another actor’s skills or the quality of his or her voice.

* Don’t be guilty of rigidly predetermining the direction if you are aware the director will be there to give you notes. Marking up your script in advance of the actual direction can prove to be disastrous during an actual session or audition (once something gets in your head, it’s hard to remove).

* Always thank your teacher, coach, or director for the notes they gave you, regardless of whether or not you made use of them.

* Show interest in each of your classmates. Networking is the single most important factor in order to have a chance at succeeding.

As an aside, some of my most important professional assignments came as a direct result of a student contact. Years ago, it was a fellow student that got me an acting job as a last minute plug-in for an actor who was unable to make it to the set. And that job was responsible for me becoming a member of The Screen Actors Guild.

* Always cheer for a teammate. Don’t spend time commenting or trying to figure out how a competitor got a job you both read for. (It’s wasted energy. You will never get into the head of the producer who hired him or her.)

* Please don’t be or become a know-it-all. Voice over will remain a subjective (art) form. Being in the business for a long period of time doesn’t allow for anyone to remotely know all the answers.

Associates have heard me moan, “What the hell do I know?” I say those words quite often. Do I make an educated guess from time to time? Yes I do. Usually, it’s because a staff member asks me to guess who I thought the ad agency picked. In the event you’re a curious soul, I’ll end your wait. I rarely pick out who the winner is on any of our auditions. It’s not that I have fewer skills than the next guy, but the truth is once again summed up with the word “subjectivity.”

The Four Friends

They all so loved to get together and share experiences. The goal was to set up a marvelous networking system that would ultimately benefit the four of them. Each week they would meet to discuss all that occurred in their careers. As time passed t became obvious to the four companions; only one of them was making any headway in the acting community.

In one of these meetings, the three non-accomplishers decided they would pin the successful participant down, and make him share his secrets. So forcefully he was questioned about his methods.

He began, “Wherever I go, I listen to people talk, I watch people walk, I try to feel like they feel, and I breathe in their presence. I sometimes shake my head in agreement and often shrug in disbelief. When I ask a question, it’s always about them; things that are going right or wrong, like a job promotion or a job loss. I pay special attention when they speak of their families and friends; you know, like, relationships. All the people I meet are just the same as you three, except when we get together, the conversations are always the same. You’re always talking about careers, and how you don’t seem to be winning. I don’t have to listen as closely to the three of you, because you only show interest in one subject: Yourselves.”

If you’re not in-the-know, meaning you lack experience, your knee-jerk reaction might be a commentary about the harshness of the winner’s appraisal of his three friends’ lack of interest in anyone but themselves. But, on the other hand, if you have any degree of classical training, you would undoubtedly applaud the winning actors supposition, for even as he expressed his feelings, he did so with total truth. And as the three friends offered their objections to what he had to say, our winner was intent in gathering up their display of emotions. What the three of them were now offering our winner was what successful actors must ultimately decree: Total truth.

“But if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive.”


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