by Kimberly Jurgen
Owning your truth means accepting yourself where you are at this moment. And if you believe that what you have to offer is enough, then there is no need to distort or embellish that truth.
In casting and in coaching, I’ve seen actors upgrade a scene done in class to a production credit. If they understand how to play a game, having that knowledge is transformed into a special skill. They’ve seen Disney’s Brave and feel qualified to say they can recreate a Scottish accent. Doing this is unnecessary and, believe it or not, potentially dangerous.
Years ago there was a national commercial looking to cast a female actor with advanced swimming. They offered the role to “Janet” who assured them she had no professional conflicts, no schedule conflicts and was a skilled swimmer. When they got to the location, a seaweed bed in open ocean, Janet was soon literally in over her head. Divers had to rescue her from drowning. Production shut down for the day and the role had to be re-cast. Because she had misrepresented her abilities, Janet was sued by the company for $1,000,000.
For the commercial actor, Special Skills are crucial. Identifying skills appropriately on a resume and online can set an actor apart from the pack and provide significant opportunities. Casting directors and marketing departments depend on accurate skill listings when they are making decisions. Therefore, an actor must be honest when listing abilities and when asked.
Consider including details with your skills. With that language skill, are you beginner, conversational or fluent? Are you a competent ballplayer or did you play college ball? If it has been more than a year or two since you did a skill, should it really be on your resume? With accents and dialects, would you fool a native speaker? If you need to practice before performing a skill on demand, then it does not belong on your resume. Show casting they can trust you by your honest assessment of your skills.
And you’d be surprised how useful those outside-the-box skills, like cartwheels, knitting, or bird calls, can be at getting you a commercial audition.
When playing a role, our job as actors is to truthfully lie. It is very difficult to deceive the camera. Therefore, we become very adept at believing the lie so that a character’s truth can become our truth. However, where we have an obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but our personal truth, is on our resumes.
We do this because it is the mark of a professional. As professionals, we are not desperate, deceiving or disrespectful to those who put their faith in us. We accept ourselves as we are. Because we are each enough.