#2 - KNOW HOW TO READ, TALK, AND GIVE A KILLER SLATE!
Sounds simple, right? Well, it's not the second biggest challenge talent face because it's a cake-walk. In this trade industry where there still isn't really a place to gain higher education in the business of being a talent, learning the ropes generally comes from the school of hard knocks.
Fifteen percent of Americans suffer from learning disabilities. Of that 15%, an astounding 80% of those individuals have reading problems. The obvious challenge of an actor sweating a cold read or not being able to follow script revisions comes to mind. But more importantly, what about every facet of talent work that requires you to fill out paperwork? There is bound to be something new on each form you are requested to fill out. If reading is not your forte, don't panic -- just get help! Google reading programs in your city to find people ready and willing to help!
Sadly, a lot of challenged talent do not suffer from learning disabilities. They just don't bother to pay attention. This is a quandary that only the individual can fix him or herself. I had an elementary teacher give our class a pop quiz one day. She made us all put our heads down and wait as each student was handed a paper with the quiz questions. When she gave us verbal permission, I flipped my quiz and saw what looked like about 20 questions. The first was a statement, "Read this entire test before proceeding." Contrary to popular belief, I didn't always follow directions as a child. This time I was lucky, though. i went ahead and scanned the test. No. 20 stated, "Don't do anything listed above. Put your pen down and your head on your desk." I caught the curve ball before I got stung and laid my head down to watch my fellow classmates furiously complete each task on the list. It didn't take long for groans to start filling the room. The point? This teacher impressed on me the value in reading directions carefully. I still to this day deal with talent who don't bother to read the directions they are given and it is in the top 10 of complaints I hear from casting directors on a regular basis.
Once you get past the paperwork, knowing how to talk is the next hurdle. Everything about our communication, from speech patterns, to pronounciations, to accents, shapes how other people perceive us. Stereotypes may not be fair, but they are definitely a part of our industry. Do you speak with proper english? Do you sound educated and intelligent? Do you give the impression that you understand the bigger picture and know how to listen? And once more, do you follow verbal directions when given them?
Your slate involves the talking part -- and doing so in character is key to impressing the decision maker. They want to know you know this character before you start delivering lines! A slate clearly communicated and in character will add that "twinkle* to your eye and make you stand out against the competition.
Are you able to nail the steps leading into your casting?