When I think about an actor who will have mass national or international appeal, I consider 3 things: their talent, their looks, and their personality. (For personal business interactions with that actor I have more criteria like their business acumen, money management, our energy together etc., but this is about their appeal to the marketplace, not me.) If I meet an actor that is shining in all 3 areas, then I consider them a star waiting to be discovered, but, more likely than not, most actors I meet can improve in one or two areas. Talent can absolutely be worked on with acting classes, coaching, and experience on set. Looks can be improved with diet, exercise, different fashion, a haircut, etc. The hardest though, is the personality. What if the actor is very talented, has a great look, but their personality isn’t all that awesome? I’ve had several actors with this exact problem and I quickly realized that it’s not an easy fix. How do you tell someone that their personality needs improving? Sure, I can say, “Your personality needs improving,” but it takes the right person to 1) not be offended 2) trust me 3) be self-aware enough to find a genuine way to improve that part of themselves.
I’m an introvert.
When I met Christian, I quickly learned that he is the ultimate people person and a natural at making great relationships. I knew I had to be more like him to do better in this industry so I watched closely at how he interacted with our neighbors, friends, doormen, janitors, waiters and tried to really decipher all the tiny things he did that made people love him. I also read books about people skills and considered how I acted in different situations. I used the curiosity that is truly within me to find a way to connect with people more, and I think I’m much better today than I was 6 years ago.
I also know that I have a bad habit of scrunching the area between my eyebrows whenever I talk to someone, whether I’m discussing the weather, politics, or what I’m going to eat for dinner. I can’t seem to help it. Luckily, I don’t live in front of the camera like an actor does.
My point to all that is, it’s important to be self-aware but especially as an actor.
While your talent indicates how self-aware you are of your acting abilities, improving your personality means being self-aware at all times. Because if you’re going to make it big, studios and networks have to trust that you will have broad appeal. Not only will you have the incredible ability for storytelling through characters, not only will you have the look that they want/need, but that you’ll also have a personality that is endearing/interesting/lovable/genuine. People will need to either relate to you or look up to you (or you have to be really funny) when you’re sitting across from the late-night talk show host, giving an interview on a carpet, or talking to fans at an event.
Having a great personality means letting the things that make you unique shine in a way that isn’t arrogant or overbearing. It also means showing great empathy and curiosity for others. Actors are in the position to be great at this since their ultimate job is to have interest in the study of people and to understand their situations. Ideally, with that great personality would also be a voice that has something meaningful and smart to say, too.
So, have you done a personality check on yourself recently? Which areas need improvement? Do you feel fully comfortable and confident with your ability to connect with people? And what kind of stories are you passionate about telling when you’re not performing as someone else?