Before you can be discovered by a casting director, you must discover yourself.
I know this not only because I’m a casting director but because I wanted desperately to be an actress when I was young. Unfortunately, I also wanted desperately to be someone else. These two desires cancelled each other out.
We’re not looking for an “image.” As Alex Loyd says in his terrific self-help book, The Healing Code(www.thehealingcode.com), the erroneous precept that “image is everything” originates from the belief that “I’m not okay, and if people get to know me, they will come to that same conclusion, so whatever the cost I need people to see a manufactured me instead of who I really am.” Portraying yourself in an inauthentic, pre-packaged way is manipulation in the worst way and we can see right through that.
In truth, you can wow us by simply being yourself. This is true in all auditioning, but especially for TV roles. All we want is you, and to see your authentic, natural charisma coming through the character.
I’ve come to realize, because of all the hours I’ve spent in that room, that the key ingredients to the Art of Charisma are self-knowledge (with self-acceptance) and balance. In order to tap into the full power of your individual charisma, you absolutely must know who you are and then have the ability to reveal that true self in The Room. If you aren’t brave enough to look deep within in order to truly know and accept who you are, then you most likely won’t be a very good actor.
Your true self is a reflection of both your dark and light qualities. A charismatic person is the perfect balance of the two. If you are all dark qualities, you will scare us, and if you are all light qualities, we won’t be emotionally moved by you. Shakespeare’s plays are all about self-knowledge and balance. If you’re too much of one thing, you either end up dead or your family is destroyed (Macbeth, King Lear). If you’re the perfect balance of man and woman, dark and light, you end up happily married (Rosalind in As You Like It).
So you must ask yourself, with honesty and fearlessness, “Who am I? What emotional qualities do I possess?” As an actor, the only thing you can play is emotions. It’s the only thing the audience responds to, really. You think we’re attracted to hot bodies? No. We’re attracted to a strong emotional inner life that is your emotional inner life and not someone you are trying to be.