“For me, the key to transitioning from Melbourne to the US and the UK has been to surround myself with artists whose work I respect and admire.” – Natasha Dewhurst
This month, Casting Networks’ Theatre Angel speaks to Australian actress Natasha Dewhurst who gives her 5 Top Tips for an International Career. Fresh out of LA and in London filming the lead in an upcoming Netflix series, Tashi explains how her Australian theatrical training together with her international experience has helped her embark on an exciting global adventure.
Theatre Angel: Natasha, huge congratulations on your amazing success with Loserville, April Flowers, Full Circle, and The Vapour Boys! As a Melbournian by birth, how did you make the transition from local to international projects?
Natasha Dewhurst: I received the majority of my training in New York. By doing so, I established a wonderful network of friends and artists who consisted of fellow actors, writers, directors, and musicians. These are various opportunities and projects that came out of these friendships, which lead me to my fantastic representation. It creates a ripple affect leading to meetings/auditions/roles, which continues to ripple out.
In London, I am so fortunate that one of my oldest and dearest friends is a brilliant actor. We both help one another with self tapes, and offer our advice to each other with roles and work. So for me the key to transitioning from Melbourne to the US and the UK has been to surround myself with artists whose work I respect and admire.
“I think it’s important to have something to keep you grounded.” – Alec Snow
You may know Alec Snow as Home and Away’s Matt Page, the troubled teen who moved to Summer Bay and caused a stir. However, aside from starring in Australia’s most popular TV soap opera, Alec is also a brilliant stage actor, with his role as Tim in Holding the Man at LaBoite Theatre Company in Brisbane earning him rave reviews and industry admiration. If that wasn’t enough, Alec fronts the band Interim, who are currently working on their debut album.
This month, I spoke to Alec about how his journey as an actor has affected his view on health and fitness.
1. What do you do to keep your mind and body in shape?
The way I keep my mind and body in shape is through yoga. For me it’s a perfect balance between the spiritual and the physical. Although I do think finding the right teacher is important. Someone who teaches in a way that suits you and makes you enjoy the practice while you are doing it.
Yoga is something that never fails to make me feel great. There’s never been a class that I’ve walked out of at the end and been like, “Oh, I wish I didn’t just do that.”
It’s October and the audition season has kicked off in Australia. All the major drama schools are beginning their 2017 intake programs. Subscription theatres and Independent Theatre Companies are launching their 2017 seasons. The next big one is Redline Productions season launch at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney on October 17th – look out for the announcement of open auditions for their 2017 Unspoken season and Sydney’s Eternity Playhouse have also just announced open audition dates.
Big seasons, lots of plays, and directors to meet, and many delicious roles for actors of all ages!
Most auditions demand that you perform two monologues, one classical (usually Shakespeare) and one contemporary, before a panel of experts which include directors, lead actors (already cast), heads of Acting departments, voice and movement teachers, and current and alumni drama school students. These are always daunting and sometimes terrifying. So many talented actors fail at the first hurdle, they don’t even turn up for the audition, or if they do, they run away at first sight of the audition rooms and the other attendees.
I know this to be true, as it happened to me when I went to my first WAAPA audition at the Academy of performing arts!
My audition went like this . . .
We were delighted this month to interview up and coming actor Brad Moore, who has just had a starring role in Golden Years and the feature Gloves Off coming out soon. His debut was in The Rise, featuring Timothy Spall. Here, he shares with Casting Networks what it’s like to settle into an acting career in the second phase of your life, ways to be clever about securing roles, and some fun moments in Cannes.
Casting Networks: So first things first, Brad. You recently starred in Golden Years. Can you tell us a little more about your role in this film and how this film came about?
Brad Moore: I was introduced to the director, John Miller, and co- writer, Nick Knowles, from DIY SOS at the Cannes film festival by my friend, the producer, Mark Foligno. They were out there trying to raise finance for the film. I was there trying to find work, but mostly spending money I didn’t have on drinks that I couldn’t afford! Anyway, they told me all about the film’s premise and the character, and it was of course immediately something I wanted to be involved with. Pensioners robbing banks? What’s not to like?!! So I quickly proceeded to deploy my usual technique of running some “early sketch” improvisations of what I thought the character would be like (couple of drinks will help with this risky strategy!). So after a few turns from me, John and I clicked on who we thought DC Keith Stringer would be and they cast me. We then had a few more character sessions before Stringer was fully formed.
Welcome to His & Hers, in which an entertainment industry business advisor and actress/mentor give their take on the latest topics that come up when they’re mentoring and coaching actors.
This month John Byrne, an entertainment industry business advisor who writes for The Stage, and coaches actors around the globe compares thoughts with Angela Peters, actress and acting mentor with clients in the UK, LA, and AU, on the topic of What we think are the biggest mistakes actors make.
It does surprise me sometimes when I meet with actors who want help because they are not getting work or can’t get an agent, but who appear to have a laundry list of jobs they won’t do – from commercials, to fringe plays, to theatre in education. I can certainly understand it when actors have already done a lot of a certain kind of work, but quite often this picky attitude seems to come from actors who are just starting out and haven’t done very much at all. The rationale I often hear given is that “casting directors won’t be interested in coming to small plays or children’s shows” or that the big casting directors won’t rate work done on commercials, or even that “the actors I admire don’t do that kind of work so I don’t either.”
“I still don’t look at it as if I’ve come out.
Coming out, what does that mean? What I’m concerned about is people as human beings.”
– Tab Hunter
Tab Hunter, Hollywood’s 1950s Golden Boy
Silver screen sirens and All-American boys – a grandiose mix of heartthrobs manufactured by major film studios that compelled millions of fans worldwide. From Metro-Goldwyn Mayer to 20th Century Fox, this was the recipe that dominated the American and global cinema industry during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Tab Hunter was one such All-American heartthrob. Born Arthur Kelm on 11 July 1931 in New York City to a German catholic immigrant mother and a Jewish father, Hunter later moved to California with his mother, brother, and grandparents after his parents’ divorce. The divorce also initiated a name change, from “Kelm” to his mother’s maiden name “Gelien.” In California, he served a stint with the Coast Guard (until it was discovered he was only 15), was a competitive figure skater, and worked a job at a stable to be close to his lifelong passion for riding. But it was only a matter of time before Hunter’s tall, statuesque physique and movie star good looks seized the eyes of the Hollywood moguls.
Most people feel good knowing there are certain things in life that they can count on. The summer months bring warm weather, children go back to school in September, Christmas is in December, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. We have an innate, deep-seated desire for certainty and control, it brings peace of mind. On the other hand, uncertainty doesn’t feel so good. Do I have enough talent? Will I work again? Will I fall in love? Will I be successful? People do funny things to manage their anxiety around uncertainty. One of them is to slip into thinking that you will be guaranteed what you want if you are more in control and always do the right things. But it is a lofty illusion to think that by enforcing these behaviors, you will achieve your goals. In fact, taking this idea too far can actually undermine your achievements and your ability to be happy.
Being controlling can have a negative impact on your life and your acting career. A great Robert De Niro quote sheds some light on this concept:
“A lot of young actors have the idea that, “I’ve got to do this right. There’s a right way to do this.” But there’s no right or wrong. There’s only good and bad. And ‘bad’ usually happens when you’re trying too hard to do it right. There’s a very broad spectrum of things that can inhibit you. The most important thing for actors – and not just actors, but everybody – is to feel loose enough to create what you want to create, and be free to try anything. To have choices.”
Well said, Robert. But how can one attain this sense of freedom to try anything? How do you let go of fear? How do you let go of not being invested in the outcome?
When it comes to advancing a career, dependability rules. All things being equal—talent, for example, and suitability for the role at hand—when people know they can count on you, it goes a long way toward removing the “no,” to borrow a line from our friends in sales. So how, exactly, do you add “dependable” to your skill set?
Here are a few of the steps that have helped make me the person people feel they can rely on.
1. Deliberately build dependability muscles on your own.
Just like your voice, flexibility, and physical fitness, becoming a dependable person is something that we have to work on every day. If you don’t feel that’s the case and you’re known as a pretty reliable person, I’m guessing that you grew up in a household that modeled and instilled the reliability, duty, and diligence that is now such a part of you, you don’t even see it. Me? I grew up in a home where we learned very, very early how to fake it. So I’m good at the short run, but poop out when it comes to sustaining good behavior—which is essentially what dependability is.
If you’re more like me than those sturdy, reliable types, I humbly suggest you get yourself a thing-a-day project and some support, either real-life or virtual—or better yet, both.
Recently, I finished a year-long project where I lettered one “sign” a day—some thought, quote, or idea that appeared before me in response to a silent question, or even a question I didn’t know I was asking. For 365 days,* I showed up whether I wanted to or not, and posted a drawing to social media. I did it only to hold myself accountable (and to build some lettering skillz), but to my surprise, somewhere around the halfway mark, people started telling me how they’d come to depend on these little signs showing up in their feed every day.
*It ended up being 375 days, as I missed too many to make up in time. Guess what? NOBODY CARED AND THE WORLD DID NOT END. People still thought it was a remarkable achievement. More importantly, so did I.
2. Reverse engineer the day/drive/gig/etc.
Part of being dependable is building in enough time to actually get done the work you’ve committed to. And this includes accounting for the time required by regular human maintenance—eating, sleeping, and so forth. I am a chronic underestimator of how much time it will take to get from A to B (or deliver something from me to C).
I’ve gotten better at building in enough time by starting at the result I want and working backwards. For things I really need to get to, I first mark my calendar with the appointment time. Then I calculate the time it will take to transport myself there like a sane, rational person living in the world with other people—a lot of them, usually—who are also trying to get somewhere, and I put that time in the calendar. Then I calculate the time it will take to prepare myself for walking out the door and either add this to my calendar, or write it on my to-do list for the day.
For some people, this might be overkill. For me, it’s been a lifesaver. Even more calming than a to-do list is a to-do list with actual, actionable instructions.
3. Own your mistakes.
Whether I like it or not, I learn my greatest lessons by falling on my ass or my face. That mortifying time early on in my acting career when I missed an entrance because I was chatting up a producer backstage? It taught me the necessity of focus, even if I risked looking nerdy or uncool. That time I missed an urgent, last-minute request to show up on set before the previous night’s call time because I turned off my electronic notification device, a.k.a. pager? Taught me to never, ever turn off my electronic notification device once I’d booked a job. Or between jobs. Or, like, ever, unless absolutely necessary.
You’re going to make plenty of mistakes; it’s an inevitable part of life. The best way out is not to deny or defend in some (usually vain) hope of salvaging what you think you might have lost. It’s to own it, make it right if you can, and change what you do moving forward.
There are no short cuts to reliability; by definition, it’s something that’s won over time. But by doing a little every day, anticipating what you can, and making right what you blew, you can become the bastion of dependability we’d all love to rely on.
MEMORIZING VS TRIGGERING A SCRIPT!
At first, learning to “trigger” a script instead of memorizing it can feel like you’re falling off a cliff!
Yet, the freedom that comes with not knowing where you will land,
Is not only exhilarating, but, what I believe every actor strives for,
To live in the moment.
QUESTION: How do seasoned actors memorize pages of dialog for rapid shooting schedules?
ACTORS: I touched a bit on this in my last blog and would love to elaborate more on the difference between memorizing vs. triggering a script; one clutters your mind with words to say and the other opens your mind with words to respond. Big difference! At least, it has been for me.
Over the years, I have met many actors who’ve claimed to have photographic memory, where they can SEE entire pages of dialogue in their mind, and other actors who are scared out of their mind because they can’t see how they’re going to memorize one page, let alone an entire script of dialogue!
While everyone remembers the headlines hailing Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger as the heroic pilot behind the Miracle on the Hudson, Clint Eastwood’s new film Sully, based on the book Highest Duty, written by Sullenberger and Jeffrey Zaslow, takes a closer look at the man behind the miracle. Tom Hanks is stellar as always in the title role, while Eastwood’s pacing and attention to detail make the film considerably more dramatic and tense than you might imagine it to be—particularly during the scenes that take place during the aftermath of the accident. While it is unlikely to garner too much awards-season attention, Sully is a taut and engaging drama that is sure to please audiences all over.