I.INTRODUCTION: ANYBODY CAN ACT
Hello, I'm Randall Park. I am a writer, an actor, and a philosopher. I am also a thespian, which is another word for "actor", but fancier. Which brings me to the topic of today's essay: acting. Now, the word "act" is related to the Spanish word acto, which means "act".
Contrary to popular belief, ANYBODY can act. Believe it or not, you do it everyday. Here are some examples:
Earlier this morning, when you woke up, you probably yawned while stretching your arms out. Do this in front of a Hi-8 video camera, and voila! You just "acted"!
Let's say you just got into an argument with your girlfriend. You got so mad that you threw a plate at her head, knocking her unconscious. You feel guilty. You weep, because she might be dead. Now, do the same thing in front of a 99-seat theater with two or three audience members sitting somewhere in the back, and voila! You just "acted"!
Ladies, let's say you're making love to your man. You sense that he's about to reach climax, because he's screaming, "I'm about to reach climax!!!" You, on the other hand, are nowhere near reaching climax. In fact, you haven't even removed your pants yet. But you know your man has low self-esteem, so you pretend that you're about to reach a simultaneous orgasm. So you say, "Ohhh! I'm coming too!" All fake and shit. Ladies, this is NOT an example of acting. Especially if you're saying this with no commitment whatsoever. At the very least, put the sandwich down while delivering these lines. Trust me, your "scene partner" knows what the hell is going on here, and I demand more commitment!! I demand more focus!
Which brings me to my next point: Acting is all about committing to the moment. It is all about focus and intense concentration.
II. COMMITMENT, FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
Commitment is essential when acting. You must be committed to what is going on in the scene at all times. Take one of my favorite plays from one of my favorite writers, William Shakespeare. In Hamlet, quite possibly Shakespeare's greatest tragedy, there is a key scene when Mel Gibson goes absolutely ape shit. I wasn't sure what exactly was going on in the scene, but I knew that his father was dead, and he was talking to his mother or maid or something, and he was going absolutely nuts! Now, if he wasn't committed to the scene, he probably would have said something like, "Get the fuck away from me!" and then pull out a gun or something. But Mel knew that this was a period piece, and they didn't say the F-word back then, nor did they have firearms. So instead, he stayed committed to the story by speaking all old-language, and swinging his arms instead of pulling out a Smith and Wesson or something.
FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
Focus and Concentration are basically other ways of saying "Commitment", which we just covered.
There are a lot of people who claim to have figured out ways for actors to act better. People like Stanislavsky. Now, I don't know the guy personally, but I don't like him. And I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this "Method Acting" bullshit. (Maybe that crap works in Communist Russia, but not here, buddy!) This guy Stanislavisy says that you should let the character take over your inner-being or something like that. Like, if you're playing a football player, you have to spend all day walking around with a helmet on or some shit. Stupid. He says that if the scene requires you to cry, you should think about something tragic in your life, like that time you caught your girlfriend kissing some white dude at the Starbucks on Sawtelle and Olympic. All kissing in public and shit. Man, fuck that. Fuck Stanislavisky.
IV. MARLON BRANDO AND RAPPERS WHO ACT
My favorite actors are Marlon Brando and rappers who act. Marlon Brando was quite possibly the greatest actor ever. I saw that movie, Apocalypse Now, and I was in awe of that one scene where they showed all those severed heads. Brando wasn't in that scene, but still, Marlon Brando is a genius. Just watch one of his old films like The Freshman, with Ferris Bueller, and you'll see why everybody loves Brando. I think he's dead now, which is a tragedy.
I also love rappers who act. Some of my favorite rapper/actors are Ja Rule, L.L. Cool J, Eve, Kurupt, and Busta Rhymes. But the greatest rapper/actor of all time is Trick Daddy. I don't think he's made any movies yet, but I'm sure he's one of the best actors, because his songs are so DOPE!!! (Seriously, peep his latest album: Thug Matrimony: Married To The Streets. Shit is DOPE!!!)
Also, while on the topic of rappers who act, I highly recommend the movie I'm Bout It, starring Master P. This movie was AWESOME! And the fact that they use real-life ho's and crack heads, makes it an interesting commentary on life in the inner-city. Like, when that one crack head says, "I want crack!!", you could tell, she really meant that shit. Sure, the film and sound quality of this particular film are really bad, but that is often the mark of independent cinema. Some of our best movies are not shot on 35mm film. Some, such as I'm Bout It, are actually shot on audio cassette using a medium called Pixelvision.
V. ACTING EXERCISES
Here are some acting exercises I came up with for you budding thespians:
LOVE SCENE (WITH A PARTNER). Find a partner who you find physically attractive. Play Dexter Gordon's Ballads. Serve drinks. Start "making out". Keep "acting".
ARGUMENT EXERCISE (WITH A PARTNER). Find a partner who you find physically attractive. Play Dexter Gordon's Ballads. Serve drinks. Start making out. Keep "acting". When finished "acting", put your clothes on, and say, "I'm not who you think I am..." From there, improvise an argument.
LOVE SCENE (SOLO). Play Dexter Gordon's Ballads. Serve drink (to yourself). Get on the internet. Keep "acting".
DRAMA EXERCISE (SOLO). Play Dexter Gordon's Ballads. Serve drink (to yourself). Keep serving drink to yourself. Contemplate life. Serve more drink. Cry.
That last exercise is actually something I've been doing on a nightly basis. In fact, I've been doing that one for years, without knowing that I was doing a frickin' acting exercise the whole time. This may explain why I'm such a good actor.
VI. ACTING IN HOLLYWOOD
The goal of every actor is to become rich and famous. Actors may say something to the contrary, but trust me, they want to get rich and famous. And the only place to get rich and famous as an actor is in Hollywood, California. Here are some essential tools you need to becoming rich and famous in Hollywood:
1. An Agent. An Agent is someone willing to represent you. They are the ones who negotiate deals and connect you to "the industry". My agent/cousin's name is Arnold Soo. He also represents a lady named Haley Berry. (note: not "Halle", "Haley".) Arnold lets me keep 10% of my earnings. Arnold tells me that 10% is the industry standard.
2. A Headshot. Headshots are 8X10 photographs of your head. Some of them are of your full body, which you think would be called "bodyshots", but no, they are also called "headshots". I have one headshot with my whole family in it. You'd think this would be called a "family portrait", but no, it's still called a "headshot".
3. Thank You Cards / Car. After you've gone to an audition, send a Thank You Card. Also, give the Casting Director a gift, like a car. This will hopefully up your chances of getting the job.
4. Reel. A strong acting reel will help casting directors get a good sense of what you can do. On my reel, I have Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, and Al Pacino in some marvelous scenes. (All stuff I can do.)
5. Trucker Cap / Hair Gel / Ugg boots / Cleavage. If you are a guy, wear a trucker cap, or gel your hair all crazy and shit. Wear a t-shirt that says "Arkansas: Homeboy Jesus" or something like that. If you are a girl, wear Ugg boots, and ALWAYS show cleavage. If have no cleavage, ALWAYS smoke cigarettes.
6. A Hi-8 Camera. Chances are, work will not come that often. Trust me. I've been acting for the past two years, and all I got to my credit is background work on a show called "the news". So in between jobs, I like to make my own projects. That is why I invested in a Hi-8 Camera. (There's a new format called "Mini DV" or something like that, but trust me, that shit will become obsolete in a couple months.) Get a Hi-8 camera, and film a short, a feature, or (my favorite) something avant-garde. If you do film something avant-garde, put "America" somewhere in the title. Trust me, that shit is deep. Then submit your project to Sundance or Jonathan Wiley Film Festival.
VII. GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
Now that you have all the necessary tools for becoming a professional actor in Hollywood, it's time to get down to business! Get an agent! Get those headshots done! And get that Hi-8 camera, and start making projects! Trust me, you can't depend on Hollywood to carry you to fame and fortune, especially if you're Asian, Australian Aborigine, or deformed. You gotta go out there and do it yourself!
And if you ever need personal training, keep in mind that not only am I an actor, a writer, a philosopher, and a thespian. I am also an acting teacher. I conduct workshops in my parent's garage in Culver City, California. For money. If you are interested, send a digital headshot to email@example.com, and I'll see what you look like. I also do personal message and I offer escort services. Also for money.
Mar Vista, California