Diary of an actress #4: Secret Agent Man on Actors Who Refuse to Listen

So I just read the entry from Backstage's column, Secret Agent Man, "Actors Who Refuse to Listen", and two words came to mind: tough love. He brings up a lot of solid points, even if they are hard to hear. His column is insightful and doesn't beat around the bush, and is a must-read for any actor in the biz.

See below for an excerpt from the article:

If you're a regular reader of this column, you've probably noticed a few recurring themes over the years. The one that pops up most often is my rant about actors getting in their own way. This kind of behavior never fails to amaze me, and I see it every day. Talented people doing everything they can to not succeed. What causes this? Is it a genetic defect? The funny part is most of this behavior could be prevented if actors would just learn how to listen.

I know quite a few teachers, and they've all told me the same thing. A large part of an actor's training is learning how to clean the wax out of his or her ears. That's why when I attend a workshop I always focus on the performer who's not talking. I ask myself, "Is he in the moment, listening carefully to his partner, or is he just waiting to say his next line?" That's how you separate the wheat from the chaff.

Now here's the lesson you need to learn: Listening skills are important in all parts of your career, not just when you're performing.

I represent an actor who had some mainstream success when he was younger but has recently hit a slow patch. A few weeks ago, I scored an audition for him on a pilot about police corruption in the '50s. Think "L.A. Confidential." My client was reading for the role of a federal agent who investigates a group of dirty cops.

The thing is, this actor always has a few days' worth of facial hair. I've known the guy for years, and I've never seen him clean-shaven. Naturally, federal agents in the '50s weren't scruffy. I told him to shave for his audition so he would look right for the period, but did he listen? No, because he had a big date that night, and he wanted to look hot. So the fool got laid, but he didn't get the part. I hope she was worth it. 

Click here to read the full article on Backstage. 

The moral of the story?

My key takeaway from the article is that you can't personalize feedback. When people you know, trust, and have your best interest in mind (emphasis on trust and best interest) are giving you sound advice in order to advance your career, its time to put your ego aside and take heed.

Click here for next entry: Diary of an actress #5: Candy Washington interviews actor Matthew Nadu

Click here for last entry: Diary of an actress #3: Self-taping an audition - the highs and lows
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