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Monday, January 1, 2018

The "You" That Nobody Knows

I was watching one of my favorite TV shows the other day - Shark Tank. (Seriously, all actors should watch this for what to do and NOT to do in the audition room!) The person was trying to raise funds for a product that helps ADD suffers (and others with attention problems) to focus. As he gave his pitch, you could see the inventor try very hard to make the product seem as broad as possible so that even people without ADD could benefit. It made sense - there were already fidget spinners on the market, so he obviously needed to broaden the appeal, right?

Low and behold, there was a bidding war for the product - the investors were lobbying the inventor to LET them invest. And what was it that made them interested? Was is the universality of the product or the product’s high sales? NO. As it turned out, one of the investors himself has ADD, and another has a child with special needs. So for them, the investment was personal. And the inventor was lucky, because somehow the investors could see through his “universality” pitch to understand what this product means for those with attention problems.

Most actors behave like that inventor - take what makes our product unique and special and hide that so that we appear to be more competitive with other actors. We want to fit in and not stand out, even though intellectually we understand that in order to be noticed we need to be different. But our hearts fight against our brains and compel us to play small.

The truth is, we’ll never know what will help our work resonate with our own investors - the casting directors, agents, and producers we’re trying to woo. What if your unique take on a role inspires something personal in the audition room, but you dial it back and they never get to see it? Can you imagine all of the missed opportunities?

I encourage you to bring your best funky, weird, a little too neurotic, intense self to your work, and balance with professionalism, ease, and confidence. The balance is key to help people understand the person and actor that you are. To end this, I’ll leave you with two of my favorite quotes on the subject:

"Be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” - Judy Garland

“Bring so much of your authentic self to the table that you can say, ‘If they want someone like me, I nailed it.’” - Erin Cronican

Did you like this advice? Great news! I’ve debuted my brand new DIY Course “Mastering the Art of Relationships” which includes video and worksheets designed to help you dive deeply into your communications to make networking easy, painless, and fun. Sign up for the course here:

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican’s career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.

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