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Can you Sound More Black?

Today I had an audition for a voiceover commercial. Voiceovers are great because you don’t have to worry about how you look. You can be droopy eyed and ugly jean’d and the microphone will still love you. This particular gig was easy because it was only one line. But I have learned- there are no small parts, only small actors. I walked into the studio determined not to be a small actor.

I slipped the headphones on, adjusted the microphone for my height and we got down to business. I delivered the line a few different ways, varying my pitch and tone to show them my range. The director stopped me after take three.

“Can you sound more black?” He asked.

Now that is ironic.  I just finished shooting a documentary film about race and identity and this seemed like a scene from the film.  “What does black sound like?” I wondered. I decided to play along. I did the line two more times and apparently I got it wrong because the director said, “Try grabbing your balls as you say it.”

I burst out laughing and said, “No one has ever given me a note like that.”

“Yeah!” he said, “That sounds black. Do it like that. We’re rolling.”

I was baffled. I didn’t know whether to be amused at this poor guy’s ignorance, or offended at his idea of black culture. We did it a few more times and then he said what directors say when you don’t get the part:

“OK we got lots here. Thank you.”

I left with a smile on my face. Why oh why did I not have a camera with me today?

I’m still baffled… should I be amused or offended?


I have an audition for a beer commercial today. A few years ago I would have turned it down. I used to think being a Christian meant not promoting alcoholic beverages. I felt very righteous telling my agent that I wouldn’t act in a beer commercial. I felt noble.

Here’s the problem with that: I enjoy drinking a beer or having a glass of wine. The bible says you shouldn’t get drunk on wine- it doesn’t say you shouldn’t drink. So there I am enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, but if Wolf Blaas wants to make a commercial for its Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon… I won’t be in it.

Hypocrisy (hiˈpäkrisē) noun
the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

My Mac dictionary just told me the word actually comes from the Greek hupokrisis “acting of a theatrical part.” I don’t want to be that kind of actor.

What do you think? Is it OK for a Christian actor to be in a beer commercial?

On Method Acting

I have slept in a dark, musty cold cellar for the last 4 nights. I am doing this to understand a character I am portraying. I am a Method Actor.

OK, so not everything in the above paragraph is true. But for the first time in my career, I can think of myself as a Method Actor. I thought Method Acting meant sleeping in cold cellars or smoking crack if the character demanded it. I have since learned that Method Acting is basically just tapping into your own emotions and memories to represent a character. Sounds simple, so I gave it a try…

I was playing the role of a guy who had just had his hand cut off by an escaped convict. Now there’s a bad start to your day. In the scene, I hold my bleeding stump in a state of shock and pain. Following a Method exercise, I re-created the worst pain I have ever experienced: tearing the cartilage in my knee during a severe car crash.  I re-lived the car crash right down to the smallest details… the sound of the crash, the fire in my knee, the taste of the chalky powder from the airbag… I re-created it all and sat in that pain. Then I kind of applied that pain to my bleeding stump… I added the sensation of holding my wrist to a candle flame while being on the verge of passing out from extreme exhaustion and… Voila! A perfect bleeding stump cocktail.

This sounds quite morbid doesn’t it? It’s not! Really. I was sitting on a very comfortable couch at the time. Anyway, it worked like a charm! And Method Acting is what helped me connect to the part. So don’t knock Method Acting just because its been misused and misunderstood. It’s only the Extremist Fundamentalist Actors who sleep in cold cellars. The rest of us sleep on the couch in our friends place while we wait for our big break.

Do you think method acting is dangerous?

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