We’re All Fans

Let’s talk about Paul Potts. In just under a week, he went from shy sales rep at Carphone Warehouse to opera-singing superstar winner of Britain’s Got Talent. On message boards and in blog entries worldwide, this inspiring underdog story has brought people to tears and created opera-lovers out of previously Top 40-only types. Even when the news hit that this “non pro” had actually spent years performing with the Bath Opera and had even studied under Luciano Pavarotti, Paul Potts still had our hearts, as everyone loves a success story.

When I first saw Paul’s audition footage, I cried. Having worked in reality TV casting, though, I also wondered how much of the timing (this clear winner of a candidate being brought into the mix in the absolute last possible slot prior to finals) had to do with the producers’ need to create buzz (check: at the international level, even), to form a feel-good story (check: Average Joe has a voice like an angel), or to prevent the “real” story from hitting before votes could be counted (check: he won the show, and the story hit). I got mad at myself for being such a cynic. “Just enjoy the performance, Bon,” I said to myself. And enjoy, I did, as Paul continued to advance through the process.

Funny thing is, even after learning more about his professional training and experience, my enjoyment of his story — my enjoyment of his performances — did NOT diminish. Sure, I was disappointed in the reality show culture for its seemingly insatiable need to dupe its fans (even when authenticity is often good enough material to score viewers), but I still really enjoyed listening to Paul Potts sing. And that’s what makes this issue a good column for actors: When it comes right down to it, we are all fans. We all love a good show. And that simple truth should empower you to nail every audition you get!

Because really, every audition is just a performance in front of a tiny audience. And you may have fans in that room or watching the audition footage later. You can’t know for sure, but you should assume that you might, simply because it’s human nature to want to see artists performing at their peak level. It’s the same reason we love professional sports. Professionals who do something “normal folks” can’t (or won’t) do are inspiring to watch.

If you ever get the opportunity to observe casting directors, agents, managers, producers, directors, etc., as they observe performers, you’ll see it happen. We get excited about the same things any viewer gets excited about (an inspired performance, a bold choice, a gripping moment of truth), but because we are also in the position to expose these performances to an even larger audience, we also become fans of “the little things” that the average viewer might miss. Case in point: There are several commercials running right now which feature actors whose work I love. I don’t cast commercials, but I watch them just like everyone else (meaning, I TiVo-forward past most of them, but there are a handful that I just love: “IDK, my BFF Jill,” for example) and definitely get excited about certain actors’ work.

And if you read for me on a film I cast years ago, you may not know that I’m your fan. You may think, because I haven’t called you in since that day years ago, I don’t like your work. On the contrary, while I haven’t had any well-matched roles for which to read you, I may be crazy about you and really enjoy seeing you work every time I spot you doing it (in commercials, in co-star spots on TV shows, in larger roles in films screened at festivals I attend, in starring roles on stage). That’s because — when it all comes down to it — we’re all fans.

What I’d really like to recommend, if you are on a quest for creating fans, is that you be your authentic self. Because, what a burden to create a fanbase of people who don’t know the real you! Next week, I’m going to look into a frequent topic of discussion among actors: Authenticity vs. Type. And that topic intersects this one here: Creating fans as your authentic self is your best bet. They’ll follow you all career long, if they truly connect with what is you, at your best, delivering your REAL essence.

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000728.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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