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Posted by admin, May 22, 2015 5:35 pm

So…now we understand that we can’t think our way into our character’s emotions.  We have to step into those shoes and live in them!

Here’s how you get out of your head and into your character’s heart:

Think about how you relate.  What’s the experience of having a crush on someone? What’s the experience of being lied to?  Or if you’re Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, what’s the experience of finding out that the one person you thought could help you is a fake?  Knowing what the experience is and allowing yourself to feel it is the heart of an actor’s work. Whether you’re performing on stage, film, or auditioning for a part, your job is to have an experience that draws your audience into it with you.  Acting isn’t showing, it’s doing…and doing is experiencing.

So ask yourself:  what is the experience of the scene?


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Posted by admin, May 20, 2015 4:22 pm

Once you can relate, you can start to think about what’s next:  what does this experience feel like?  This gets you into your emotional being: the part of you that feels what it’s like to do something. This is NOT intellectual.  You’ve got to switch off your analytical brain and look for the element of the scene that creates a sensual response in you.  Once you’ve connected with the feeling in the scene, a light goes off inside you and you think, “Hey!  I know what that’s like!”  This is your emotional “a-ha” moment.  For instance, even if you’ve never ridden a rollercoaster, you can imagine what it’s like.  You can feel the trepidation as the car chugs endlessly up the track.  You know that weird twist in the pit of your stomach as you pause for a split second at the top.  You can pretty easily imagine what it’s like to drop straight down at a ferocious speed with the wind whipping your face.  It’s not intellectually definable; it’s straight-up feeling.

Figuring out your emotional connection to your scene is the most authentic way to build your character’s reaction, so start now!

Next time:  Get out of your head and into your scene!


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Posted by admin, May 15, 2015 11:52 am

Maybe you don’t have the answer to Question #2 right away.  Often we are so close to our own experiences that we can’t find the connection between our lives and the events of the scene.

This is where a family member or friend can help.  Say, “Hey, I’m working on this scene and I can’t find how I relate to it – what do you think?”

Parents, this is where you are vital in helping your child actors.  I often watch a parent or friend tell an actor, “Yes, you’ve been through that.  Remember when…”

If a family member or friend can’t help, it’s time to make a quick call to your acting coach and say, “This is where I’m stuck, what are your thoughts?”

Once you do get the answer, write it down!  This will help you remember it and give you perspective on how the experiences are similar.

Don’t give up looking for a way to relate, because that’s your job as an actor.  You can’t do this by judging or distancing yourself from the character, but you can do it by finding your common experience.  This also creates compassion for your character, so you’ll feel what happens in the scene the way your character would.  Make that connection and it will allow your audience to do the same.

Once you recall your life experience as it relates to the character (or some experience that might be similar), you’re ready to ask Intentional Acting Question #3!


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Posted by admin, 12:00 am

Madison Hu has been cast as “Frankie” in Disney Channel’s new pilot, “Paige & Frankie”!!!  Way to go, Madison!!!


One Response to “CONGRATS, MADISON!!!!”

  1. Kelly Peters says:

    I would like my son Quinn to train with you. Please contact me as soon as possible at (630)707-7771 or

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Posted by admin, May 13, 2015 2:51 pm

Intentional Acting’s Question #1 is designed to help you see the whole picture.   First, go back and view the story created in your mind by the first question; kind of like you’re watching it on TV.  Do you see the characters, where they are and what the conflict is?

Once you do, you’re ready to go to Intentional Acting’s Question #2:

Ask yourself, “How do I relate?” Then look for the similarities.  When have you been in this situation or (something similar) as your character?   Concentrate on what you relate to.  Do you notice that you’re saying to yourself, “I’ve never done that, I don’t do that.”

That negative thinking distances you from your character and stops you from getting inside your character’s mind.   It won’t help your performance and it won’t help you.   If you haven’t had the same experience as your character, don’t panic!  Now’s the time to use your imagination and think, “Well, what would that be like?”  Have fun! Explore that situation and the possibilities and think – what would I do if that were me?

Remember:  you can’t play a character you don’t like or can’t relate to.   Find your connection point and build on it.
Next time:  Don’t give up, get help.  Find a way to relate!


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Posted by admin, May 8, 2015 10:29 am

Once you’ve identified the key elements in your scene, it’s time to zero in on what your scene is about.

To describe what the scene is about, you have to think like an outsider and not see things from your character’s point of view. This may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re only viewing the scene through your character’s lens, you can’t see the whole story and you’re going to miss the details that make your performance authentic .  For instance:  remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy asks the Wizard to help her and her friends?  What is this scene about?

A common answer:  This scene is about a lost girl asking for help for her and her friends.

Yes.  That is what the scene is about.  It’s also stated from an outside perspective, but the conflict hasn’t been indentified yet.  Conflict happens when two people want opposing or different things, and it’s what makes the scene interesting to watch.  Where’s the conflict in the description of this scene?  There isn’t one.   Be more specific:  look for the conflict or problem. The more specific you are, the better the scene will be.

So, try again:

Answer: This is a scene about a girl and her friends who are lost and want help from the Wizard, but he doesn’t want to help them.  That’s because he’s not a Wizard and he can’t really help them at all.  Now the scene has conflict.

When you say this statement to yourself, you can see the characters, where they are, what their problem is, and what they’re going to do about it.  That’s how you know what the scene’s about!


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Posted by admin, May 6, 2015 5:16 pm

Understanding what a scene is about is like flying in an airplane and looking down on the city you live in.  It gives you a new and larger view of your part in the bigger picture.  When you’re acting in a scene, you need that same perspective in order to understand the whole story. 

It’s the only way to know, quite literally, what your role is in it.

That’s why the first of the 9 Questions of Intentional Acting is: What is the Scene About?

To begin, take yourself *out* of the scene.  Then imagine you’re watching it as a movie.  What do you see?



Think about these key elements as you watch:

a. Who are the characters?
b. What is their relationship?
c. Where are they?
d. What are they doing?
e. What’s happening?
f. What’s the event?

Once you’ve got these down, you’re ready to move on to the core of this question:

What’s the conflict or problem?

Next time:  Find your conflict, find your scene!


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Posted by admin, April 29, 2015 5:13 pm

Fighting for your intention is what propels your character (and your performance) forward.  Once you figure out what your objective is and what you’re fighting for, here are the next steps:

What stands in your way? Conflict.  Once you’ve determined what you want to fight for,  figure out what’s keeping you from getting it. Go back to part 4 of Question #1:  what is the conflict in the scene?  Is girl of your dreams in love with the quarterback?  Is a co-worker taking credit for your ideas and getting closer to the promotion you want?  Clearly define your obstacle so you can plan the most interesting way to get around it.  For instance:  If your character comes to a rope bridge with missing planks, you could turn back.  Or, you could decide to cross by going hand-over-hand on what’s left of the rope railing.  Which sounds more interesting to watch?  The most difficult obstacle will almost always be the most interesting choice…and will keep your audience engaged!

Prepare! Always.  All of these steps have to be completed BEFORE you go into the audition or onto the set.  Read your script for clues, do the 9 Questions and fight for your intention.  It will ALWAYS help you to get lost in the scene while creating a natural, compelling performance.


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Posted by admin, April 28, 2015 8:38 pm

My students are forever hearing me tell them to “fight for their intention.” That’s because it’s what drives the scene, crafts your interpretation of a role, and creates a natural, compelling performance.

All of which sets you above rest of the crowd.

“Fighting for your intention.” sounds intense, and it should because it’s the key to making your performance compelling to watch.  And, it’s the fastest way to get out of your head and into your body.

How to make this happen:

What are you fighting for? What do you want to make the other character feel or do?  You need to be able to state it in one very brief sentence:  “I want you to pay to fix my car that you wrecked!” or “I want you to admit you are cheating!”  Without intention, you’re acting without purpose..and that means you’re not driving the scene!  Take control of it by figuring out what your intention is so that you can fight for it.

How do I figure out my objective? Once you’ve answered questions 1 and 2 of the  9 Questions of Intentional Acting,  go to Question #3:  What is the experience of the scene? Imagine yourself in the experience of the scene and figure out what would you want the other character to feel or do.  This is your instinct – go with it. Make it specific: “I need you to feel or do______”   Then fight for it!   And don’t forget:  make your partner the most important person in the scene!

Next Time:  What stands in your way?  Figure it out!


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Posted by admin, April 22, 2015 3:20 pm

Learning to check in is a subtle skill that takes listening to the next level.  In part 1, we talked about what to look for in your scene partner through body language and facial expression.  Checking in will bring you deeper into your scene because it will help you:

-Be Present: I see this in my kids’ classes all the time.  They’re so focused on trying to get the next line out that they’re ignoring that crucial physical response from their scene partner.  The other person’s body language is key here: it brings you into the present and makes your response real.  Without it, you’re not reacting, you’re reciting.

- Be Connected.  Checking in Makes Your Partner the Most Important Person in the Scene:  If you’re focused on your lines or your costume or the how much time is left in class or ANYTHING OTHER than your scene partner, you are NOT reacting.  You’re also not engaging, connecting, or fighting for anything.  Shift your focus back to your scene partner! It will instantly bring you into to the present moment and back to the most important person in the scene.  That’s where you get connected…and that’s where the magic of acting begins.

Remember:  emotion is the by-product of acting, not the source.  You need to stay in the experience to keep your reactions true. And to do this, you must check in and make the other person the most important person in the scene.  This will keep your responses sharp…and your performance authentic!


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