I was asked this past week if I would get back into acting. No doubt, there is something flattering when someone in the industry reaches out and asks…I love performing for sure and I love being on stage, but…
Yes, there IS a but.
There’s a difference between being an actor on stage and being an actor on television and film – and I have never been confused by that.
I love acting. And people who do it brilliantly, make it look so easy, but acting is hard. And acting live on stage is different than acting on camera. Most actors understand the difference in the art form.
It may seem to be a sliver of a difference to the outside world because actors in both arenas who are brilliant, again, make it look so easy. But to me, it’s like the difference between a photograph of a bowl of fruit versus a painting of a bowl of fruit. It may be the same image of a bowl of fruit, but how you get there, is very different.
One of my favorite parts of working on stage is that it’s live and you get that one shot during the performance to get it right. I’m so comfortable live. You get one shot and you’re done. At heart, I’m a performer. I danced as a kid – started at around four years old in the neighborhood with a small group of other young dancers. Doña Felita, this older woman in the neighborhood, had a bunch of us kids dancing at the local VFWs and at nursing homes for residents and the staff. We’d put on performances for the elders in the community. I was a natural. I loved it. The outfits, the makeup, the spotlight… As a young teenager a lot of my performance took the form of being in Colorguard and Drum Corp. I marched in parades, danced in drill teams, competed and still, stayed true to dancing on the streets – break dancing whenever I got the chance. Dancing at clubs with other fierce street dancers, professional dancers – competing and dancing on stage whenever possible… aaaah, it was a different time… Dancing is not the same as acting AT ALL, but my comfort in that space on a live stage stems from that past life for sure.
Acting professionally in front of the camera is a whole other ballgame. If you’re not an actor, you’re probably wondering what could possibly be the difference?
Let me put it another way: You know when you shoot a selfie on your phone and you keep taking a pic over and over again, till you get it exactly the way you want it? That’s similar to what happens when you do a scene on film or TV. If you’re lucky and on a big-budget film where they have more than one camera on you at a time, then maybe it would be less takes. But it is inevitable that it will take more than one “take” to get the shot right. There are also needs for close-ups and other angles that directors want to capture for editing purposes. Next time you watch a TV show or Film, watch how many cuts one scene may have – meaning, how many times the camera angle changes from one person to the next – that’s never one continuous shot. Rarely is a scene shot in one long take. Usually, it’s one actor talking, then the next shot is the scene partner reacting, then there might be a wide shot, of everyone in the room… right there, I as an actor, would have done the scene three times already. But if it’s not the way the director wants it, or if you flub a line, or if the lighting is off, or sound is wrong… they’ll shoot it over and over again till it’s perfect.
The endurance and talent it takes to be “ON” each time that camera rolls over and over again, reciting the same lines is incredible. The few films I have worked on have given me so much more appreciation for the hard work it takes to be an actor on film. Watching actors, who do it well and make it look so effortless… I mean, genius.
I’m going to work on the script this week and make a decision after that. Either way, I do love the idea of getting back at it… I’ll always be a performer at heart. I’m so grateful to have options to always share my creative self.