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modeling & talent ● breaking into showbiz
By Adam Hill
Steps Adam Hill offers steps to
creative success and
stresses the importance
of doing your homework
A ll creativity originates in the subconscious mind,
which I like to call our creative computer. I don’t
know how a computer works, just as I don’t
know how the subconscious works. One thing I
do know about both is neither can give you in-
formation that has not been stored in it. (We are not talk-
ing about the internet at this time.)
Acting is being spontaneous in a situation. In order for
this to occur, the actor must program his subconscious with
information that allows spontaneity to happen. In other
words: Acting spontaneously and intuitively is the result of
HOMEWORK! “Until I found the craft, I didn’t know how limited I was
with these instincts I took such great pride in.” —Sean Penn
I call the 5 steps, “The Foundation.” The foundation is
the most important part of whatever we build. The stronger
the foundation, the better the result.
The foundation is a series of questions that enables the
actor to explore all areas of the human experience. One of
the dangers of the foundation is if we think of it only as an
intellectual process. The actor needs to remember that it is
an organic, emotional process, as well.
The foundation is separated into ﬁve sections.
STEP ONE: WHO AM I?
“I have always been intrigued by these lives I have never ex-
perienced.” —Daniel Day Lewis
It is impossible to know all about a character when you
ﬁrst begin your work. You have heard of actors doing char-
acter research. It takes time and work to be able to discov-
er the truth about your character.
DANIEL DAY LEWIS
“What is the simple look into the character — where do you
start?” —Alec Baldwin
Start simply. Facts! Character’s name, age, where they
come from, anything the script tells us as true. When the
script runs out of material for us to work from, we use our
imaginations. Begin with simple facts such as your charac-
ter’s favorite color, music, foods. What does the character
dislike—rude people, lima beans, loud car horns? Can your
character play the piano, cook great French toast, or does
he/she wish they could ﬂy a plane or speak perfect French?
All these choices make your character human. I often re-
mind acting students that if it’s true in life, it’s true in act-
ing, and if it’s true in acting, it’s true in life. Make your
characters as real in their world as you are in yours.
“Part of preparing a character is getting a library of images
from that characters life.” —Glenn Close
Who am I emotionally? I recommend that actors start
with themselves when they want to understand their char-
acters. The actor needs to honestly list some truths about
themselves emotionally before attacking their characters’
emotional lives. This is not about what emotions you can
feel. This is about who you are as a person. For example, I
know that I am shy. This doesn’t mean I can’t lecture a crowd
on acting. I know that being shy is part of who I am. There
is no right and wrong in this.
“Ask yourself, ‘What is the emotional journey your character
takes?’” —Jessica Lange
Start to build a history for your character. The play-
wright/screenwriter will hopefully have supplied you with
facts about your character’s past. It is your job to ﬁll in the
blanks, to use your imagination to create those life experiences
that are relevant to the event of the play.