By: Jess Canty
I have been thinking a lot recently about the "it-factor" that people talk about so much with name / A-list actors and also those who have long-lasting careers supporting themselves solely from acting, even if you may or may not know their name.
So how do you get there? How do you make the leap into this group if you weren't born in LA, have a relative in the biz or got your SAG card before you could walk?
Yes, of course it is talent, training, practice, experience and some luck. But what is the thing that pushes it over the line?
I have come down to this: BRAVADO.
I love the universe sometimes, because I have been thinking about this being my post since last week - and then I attended an event with Brent Pope this weekend put on by the television academy. We were treated to two episodes of Amazon's Homecoming and then a panel discussion with Julia Roberts, Stephan James, Sam Esmail and the showrunners.
Now of course it was great to hear from all of them about the show, and to experience first-hand Ms. Roberts innate comic timing - she got laughs on basically every single question she answered - mostly because she was angling for the joke wherever possible (bravado).
But Mr. Esmail told a little story about how he was shooting Mr. Robot and Bobby Cannavale "happened to mention" that he was listening to this amazing podcast called Homecoming and had Sam heard of it?" Amazingly Sam was already attached to direct - and had been developing it. Such a coincidence.
To which Julia piped in and said something along the lines of "yes, what a coincidence." It was interesting because IN THAT MOMENT on stage Sam realized that he may have been hustled LOL. How's that for Bravado?
Because what Julia confirmed and Sam realized is that Bobby probably heard from his agents etc... that Sam was involved and he used a moment on set with him during Mr. Robot to hustle for a LEAD ROLE opposite JULIA ROBERTS in Homecoming.
Mr. Cannavale readily admits right on his IMDb biography that he has "a lack of formal acting training." BRAVADO.
I would put Tiffany Haddish in this category as well - she showed up at the premiere of Barbershop The Next Cut and told Director Malcom D. Lee she was going to be in his next movie. And then when Girls Trip came around she got her agents to get her an audition and even though she is 15 years younger than the other leads Malcom cast her. And a star was born. BRAVADO
Am I advocating for not having training? No. But if you have the training and the experience and you are not feeling like you are where you want to be - check in with your own personal bravado-meter.
Are you going in those rooms determined to be remembered? Are your self-tapes determined to be seen? To me it seems that the gap between booking a few jobs a year to making a living at this seems to be bridged by bravado.
Are there some people that are all bravado and no talent? Yep - and that is not what I am arguing here. I think they burn out as fast as a meteorite hitting the atmosphere.
You all have talent and you all have training - so that is not an issue here.
Picture the version of yourself with the most bravado you can imagine. How is that different than what you do in audition rooms now? How is it different than what you do in your current tapes? How is it different than you act at an industry event? What is holding you back from being this version of yourself? My guess is fear - and casting, directors and production can smell it.
You HAVE to make an impression. You HAVE to be unforgettable.
You have to be brave-ado.
bravado (n.) 1580s, "ostentatious courage, pretentious boldness," from French bravade "bragging, boasting," from Italian bravata "bragging, boasting" (16c.), from bravare "brag, boast, be defiant," from bravo "brave, bold" (see brave (adj.)).