Shaking the the self-consciousness! – Close Up with April Matson

Written by | The Craft of Acting

April answers your questions about being self-conscious when acting, backup plans and screenwriting.

I’ve only started my acting journey and very quickly I’ve noticed how self-conscious I get when I’m performing a scene in acting class, especially when I’m doing something dramatic. How do I shake this? –  Renee C., Boulder, CO

Make sure you go into the scene having made very specific choices about what you really want in the scene. Try to direct your focus onto getting what you want from the other character in the scene (your scene partner). One of the worst things an actor can do is focus on themselves. If you can keep your focus on your partner and getting what you want, you won’t be able to watch yourself, which makes you self-conscious. You can even correct yourself in the middle of the scene. Whenever you start to feel nervous or self-conscious, go back to your partner.

What should I say to those who ask what my “backup plan” is to acting? I love acting. It’s my passion. – Brent K., Portland, OR

First of all – congratulations!

It’s a wonderful thing to know what you love more than anything! Many people go their entire lives without ever finding their true passion. If you are going to choose the life of an actor, or any artist for that matter, you are already starting down an unconventional path, so get used to not being able to make everyone around you understand why you do what you do. But guess what? That’s okay! People don’t need to know your backup plan and you certainly don’t need anyone else’s approval to live the life you choose to live. If people ask you questions, just say what’s in your heart. If they don’t understand or don’t agree with your plan, that’s okay. Just make sure you surround yourself with like-minded people who celebrate you for you and will encourage you on the path you’ve chosen.

Do you think that screenwriting could help my acting? – Marcus D., Las Vegas, NV

I certainly don’t think it’s a requirement for actors to study screenwriting, but I definitely think it can help. I recently took a screenwriting workshop that made me think about acting in a different way. Specifically, understanding story structure has reinforced a lot of things that are part of my own process, including the role of conflict in storytelling, having a clear objective, and having a strong point of view. It can also help to understand why dialogue is written the way it is at times (like when you feel like you would choose different words to say a particular line). If the writing is good, every word and every beat is there for a reason and dialogue should be treated with respect and memorized verbatim. A lot of actors want to fight this. Studying screenwriting helped me understand the writer’s process better and helped alleviate some of the fuss around having to learn and deliver dialogue that seemed clunky.

I’ve been acting in local theater and commercials all my life and I really enjoy it. I’m curious if I’m good enough to take my acting a step further. Friends and family say I’m good, but where do I turn to find out if I have what it takes? -Maria O., Orlando, Florida

First of all, I want to ask you this: Do you love it? Do you desire more? Start by taking an acting class that will challenge you. If you can get outside of your comfort zone a bit and you find yourself still enjoying the process in spite of the growing pains, then you might have what it takes to pursue it further. Go for it! Always follow your curiosity! If it ever gets to a point where you’re not enjoying it anymore, take a break or find another way to spend your time. Nothing is permanent. We can change our minds and change our lives anytime we want. The only thing you might regret is NOT giving it a try!

– April Matson

April Matson is an actress best known for her role as Lori Trager in the ABC Family (now Freeform) cable television network series, Kyle XY. Prior to that she appeared as Penny Chase on the Fox Network television series, Quintuplets, alongside Andy Richter. In addition, April has guest starred in several television shows and appeared in independent films as well as theatre productions that include performances at the Zephyr Theatre and Second City in Los Angeles. In 2015, April founded Platform, an acting studio and theatre & film production company based in Boise, Idaho, where she teaches acting classes as well as coaches and mentors actors of all experience levels.

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Last modified: August 13, 2017

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