No, we're not talking baseball here. We are talking the leaders vs. the followers. The most important note to make is that as a talent, you must learn how to be both. The next step after that is learning how to know when to lead and when to follow.
Casting Director Scott Powers shares his advice on the subject of how to follow and when to lead.
The hallmark of a good actor is "takes direction well." Makes adjustments. As performers, we are many times on the receiving end: being told what to do by a director, photographer, agent, casting director, your teacher. Mom might even figure in there somewhere.
What can happen is that the actor insidiously falls into a trap: the permanent mode of always expecting to be told what to do. And can't move until. This is where obviously an actor runs into trouble. And can't quite understand why things aren't clicking, especially after being so obedient. Remember: only you can advance your career. So much has been written about the necessity of being pro-active [get-off-your-butt] that we won't re-hash that one more time. But what is most important is: knowing how and when to shift out of the Follow mode and into the Lead mode.
A good rule of thumb: in the in-between times of their not telling you to do something, you should automatically be telling yourself to do something.
Taking this concept one step further: know when to think and when not to think. Many actors have been in acting classes where the instructor says, "Don't think," "Get out of Your Head," "Don't Intellectualize," "Be in the Now." They are correct when trying to get a truthful performance out of an actor. Here's what's forgotten: when you're finished acting, turn your thinking switch back on and then continue to be able to take care of yourself. Some actors, in learning the craft of acting, have little by little unlearned how to think, dumbed themselves down and have insidiously become helpless, hopeless individuals requiring the care and supervision of friends, family and the kindness of strangers. Do not do this to yourself.
Knowing when to shift gears is a big key to success and longevity. If you're looking for an industry that runs on yin/yang, right brain/left brain, lead/follow, think/don't think, passive/aggressive, and an undercurrent of S/M thrown in for good measure; congratulations, YOU'VE FOUND THE RIGHT BUSINESS!
When should you take the lead? And when should you take direction?