4 Ways You'd Never Think of to Become a Better Actor

Acting. There’s no real way of measuring good or bad acting. You all just know it when you see it, right? So, there are classes you can take to gain knowledge and there are shows you can do to gain experience. But can I tell you a few things that you won’t find in any textbook?

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Acting is about about being a human. Right? I think the problem is we forget to be humans when people are watching sometimes. Also! Acting is a verb. So I think we think we have to be DOING something all the time. When we, as humans, just are being. We need to be better at being, not acting.

“In my long and difficult and mature life, I have come to learn that the less I know about acting and the more I know about everything else the better I’ll be at both acting and living.”-Jean Seberg

  1. Cultivate and pursue other interests outside of theatre. Focus on your relationships outside of this weird bubble. Have a life that is not theatre so that you’re a well rounded person. Cooking, sports, hiking, bowling, snuggling your puppy—all that good stuff.

  2. Travel! The more we can see of this world, understand history and other cultures the better we will be at understanding where we fit in the world. Our minds will be opened to other view points and other forms of storytelling. Experiencing and being immersed in a whole other point of view is irreplaceable.

  3. Be curious about your emotions. Allow yourself to feel emotions and not close them out. Start to get curious about what sets you off and how you naturally react and deal.

  4. Make friends with people that are different than you. Your empathy will grow in incredible ways when you not only listen to people with different opinions, but when you love them too.

Gaining real life experience is all a part of being a better human onstage. Get out there and LIIIIIVE, mmkkay?

The Balancing Act: Performing With Littles

I was asked a question on social media a couple months ago that has sparked an ongoing conversation in my head: “Any tips for performing with littles?” And while I know I am not the authority on this, figuring out a balance with family life and performing is something I am crazy passionate about.

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5 Ways We Balance Performing + Family

First off, let me say that kids were not the plan. When Addison and I got married I told him straight out that it would probably be 10 years or so before I wanted them. Performing was (and is) life and I didn’t think I could do both proficiently. We graduated from WSU in Musical Theatre in 2012 and went on to work in entertainment in Walt Disneyworld. A few months into the job something shifted. I was not finding the fulfillment that I thought the job would bring and I still had a lot of contract to fill. I was searching for deeper and richer meaning in life. Purpose. And then all the sudden I wanted a baby more than anything in the world. I’ll never be able to explain this sudden call to motherhood in maybe the most inconvenient job to be pregnant. But it was so real and so important. From there I quickly got back on my feet to get back to my job and life continued on, church, social life and performing. And that was maybe the most surprising thing to me of all. I think in my head children meant that performing went on hold. And this leads me to my first point.

  1. Children don’t make your life end. Continue to be you and to follow the things that are important to you and grow as a well rounded person. They will find that there is more of a person to love and look up to. I would even dare to say that I would not be the quality of performer today if I didn’t have children. Since having children I have endured more pain, felt a deeper love than I could have imagined, become more empathetic for those around me and am more in tune with my own emotions—all of which affect my acting abilities. I would also say that kids made me prioritize my projects and be more selective, making me more of a rare-commodity to directors and forcing me to only go for projects that is in my ideal castability.

When you’re pregnant with your first you’re so excited and anxious to do every little thing right, so we read books and things. One of the things that I read stuck with me (I believe it was in “Baby Wise” -Dr Robert Bucknam, M.D. and co-author Gary Ezzo) They said that having your world revolve around baby is tempting, but will not help the baby be independent or gain confidence. A baby needs to come into a family and understand that he/she is part of a team. That you all have a common goal. And sometimes it’s about the baby, but sometimes it’s about supporting Dad, and sometimes it’s about sacrificing for Mom. You all have equal pull as part of the family. Now, as a mother of 2 (age 5, and 1) this is more true than ever before. Both my husband and I do shows and other kinds of performing-random gigs, recordings, film, etc. It’s never steady, but our options are always abundant. Our schedules are never the same from week to week, and that’s how we like it. We spent a year or so after Disneyworld with the motto of saying, “yes” to everything. It was adventurous and doable at the times as we are constantly honing our skills in and learning what brings us joy and what brings us stress. We are much more selective and specialized now, increasing our value and enhancing our skills in select areas that we choose. We try to keep balance from week to week of doing stuff for each other. Sometimes the balance is watching the kids so Addison can get some time in at the gym, sometimes it’s Addison making dinner as I’ve been gone at shoots all day, sometimes it’s setting aside the million things I have to do to play a game with the kids. But also, it’s sometimes about the kids hanging out with a babysitter so that mom can go do a show and dad can go choreograph a show, or the kids having some quiet time so dad can edit photos.

2. Let kids be a part of your team. Kids are natural born helpers, they will feel a sense of pride as you succeed, the same as you do when they succeed. Let them help you. Tell them what you need from them. Make sure always return the favor when they need it.

3. You are the greatest example to your kids of what they’re capable of. Persue what makes you happy, it will give your kids permission to do the same.

I remember the day I found my mom’s “Treasures of Truth” book. It was a scrapbook of sorts, back in the day. I found pictures of her cheerleading and an article of when she sang, “The Impossible Dream” for her high school graduation. It dawned on me that day—mind you, I was like 17—that my mom was a real person, who had hopes and dreams, just like me. I remember wanting to let my kids know that I was a person with dreams early on. I wanted them to know that I was cool because I worked at Disneyworld, took voice lessons, did summer stock in West Yellowstone, and did a study abroad to London, twice. So whether that’s acting or softball for them, I want them to know that I am humble enough to continue learning-always, and brave enough to keep putting myself out there even when it’s scary.

4. Pursuing your dreams and having lots of interests helps you be relatable to your kids.

ENOUGH ABOUT THE KIDS! Let’s talk about the spouse! I am freaking #blessed to have the devilishly handsome, Addison, by my side. We talked about our future with theatre before we were even married-it was no question that we would love to perform as much as possible and the same for the other. So that was already part of the deal. It’s never something we’ve had to revisit or explain to one another and with that, we know how freaking lucky we are. We don’t have rules on anything, but just a lot of communication about dream shows coming up. The only thing we’ve had to do as parents is prioritze. Instead of accepting any role, being selective and saying, “I’ll only accept _____.” This has never been a selfish act for us. On the contrary, if we aren’t performing exactly the part we wanted, we would love to give the opportunity to perform to the other. It’s just that simple. There are so many different couples out there, with many different understandings of the HUGE commitment that a show is. The main thing here is communication. Tell them what shows are on your radar, what the commitment might be and what it means to you. For me, doing theatre isn’t a selfish act. I am a better mother/spouse and more involved and eager to be home when I am doing a show. It’s my self-care. It is me, using my full potential as a human and a creator for a couple hours a night, so that I can be a better mom all the other hours of the day. A friend always tells me, “doing a show is cheaper than therapy!” Amen, sister.

5. Communicate with your spouse.

Here’s a fun little video that Hale Centre Theatre did of our family, finding the constant balance.

I would love to know what helps you and your family find balance! Leave a comment!

Sooooo, you had a bad audition. Now what?

Bad auditions. We all have them. How do you pick yourself back up?

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I used to really suck at auditioning. I’ll say it. I was the only person in my class the second year in college who had never been cast in a production. I finally got the courage to talk to a professor about it and he was brutally honest with me (a story for a different day) Something clicked that day about how I came off in auditions that I worked my butt off to fix and fixed it. Also, I’m no stranger to rejection and I know how to pick myself up after.

  1. First and foremost, CHOOSE to pick yourself back up. No matter what. My daughter Poppy just learned how to walk. And that first night of walking back and forth in between the safety of mom and dad, I was almost grateful for the times that she fell. I was quickly able to pick her back up and show her that it wasn’t a big deal. We’d even cheer! If that first night, she had fallen and I had let her stop trying right then and there—(like she wanted to), it would have confirmed in her mind that she shouldn’t try again because the falling was not worth the walking. She would have developed a fear of it by not trying it again. When we have a bad audition, every day that we do not go to our voice lesson or choose a new audition, we confirm to our mind that we are not good enough. You have to jump back in there in order to create new habits of auditioning and change your brainwaves. You have to prove to your brain that not every audition is going to go that way. Auditioning needs to be practiced. Get out there ASAP! Also, here’s a video of Poppy walking for the first time just because I really love you guys.

  2. Have a day. Give yourself a timeline. Mine is usually 24 hours. Mourn it. You put your heart and soul into this thing, as well you should have. Process it. Be mad, be sad. Eat some cheesecake. Then be done. Let it go. Find a way to be happy for your friends who got cast and then pull your bootstraps up and find something else to look forward to.

  3. You’re gonna hate me for this one. Get some lessons. Listen. We all have something to work on. Casting is not personal. Sometimes it’s about things we can’t control: your height, your hair color, your body type. But sometimes it’s about things we can control. You are a product. Sometimes the product needs some improvement. Get feedback on your auditions, if possible. You will be surprised at how many directors are happy to talk to you about what you can improve. Send an email, make a phone call. Sometimes you might already know what it is you can improve on. Take some voice lessons, get some audition coaching (from people who are not your friends-professionals), take some dance classes, take some acting classes. I promise you, we all need to keep up on our craft. An old dog can learn new tricks. Education can be uncomfortable—I get it. But performing is vulnerable. Rejection and feeling foolish is part of the process. If you came to performing hoping you would always feel like a rockstar, you are sorely mistaken. If you want this badly enough, pull up your sleeves and get to work.

I wanna hear from you! How do you cope with a bad audition?

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3 Ways to Get the Most Value Out of Your Looks

Something I get asked a lot is what is a “look”. A headshot package may look like: 45 minutes, 2 looks, 5 edited digital images. So what does a “look” include and how can you maximize your look into showing the most versatility?

So, a “look” is basically an outfit. I like the word look because it implies an attitude as well. I try to get people to be as specific as possible with their character types and nailing that in their look. The thing that you need to understand before you come to me is your character type. How you are seen. How you come off. What kind of parts you get called back for. What’s your vibe. People have gotten this idea into their minds that sticking to a certain character type is limiting and negative. I am a STRONG believer that it’s the exact opposite. Owning your brand, your character type is POWER. You cannot control how the world sees you. But you can rock it and own it. People who understand their type will never be short of work. Those that are flimsy and indesicive will be met with directors who are flimsy and indecisive about casting them.

The second thing you are responsible for at at the shoot is owning the attitude of your look. You will be coached every step of the way by Bre. But the more you can understand that character and act in your photoshoot, the more successful your photos will be. Get in character. Embody everything that that character represents. Don’t be passive, commit 100%. Bre will be right there with you saying, “yes, and” for every one of your choices you bring to the table.

SO, let’s talk about 3 ways you can squeeze every ounce of value out of these looks.

Layers.

Bring layers to your looks. A jacket, or cardigan can go a LONG way in instantly describing a character visually to the viewer. Plus, a lone tank top will communicate a completely different character than a tank with a leather jacket. You could go from cheerleader to hipster with an edge with one simple change. Adding a layer like this does not constitute a different “look” at Pepperfox Studios! Quick changes like this are completely ok! It’s when you have to change that underneath layer that calls for a new “look”. Something else to consider is buttoning or unbuttoning a shirt.

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Hair.

Don’t underestimate your hair. There are big changes in your hair that would consitute a new “look” (ex. curling, straightening, putting it up, shaving facial hair) BUT some simple hair changes that are not time consuming can completely change your vibe and be a part of getting the most out of a look. Tucking hair behind the ear, putting hair off one shoulder, changing up your part, adding product, taking your front bangs to side bangs, pinning a section back, etc.

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Accessories.

Don’t forget those final-touch items that can change the overrall attitude. Simple jewelry and glasses are a great way to do this.

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BE BOLD

Most the time for headshots, the rule in non-distracting clothing. But let’s say you just have this favortie shirt or this piece of clothing that gets you compliments al the time and that you feel lik e a rockstar in. BRING IT. Hey, sometimes it isn’t headshot appropriate. But this one just happened to be Morgan, symbolized in a jumpsuit. It is perfectly appropriate for the roles she’s going for, plus makes her insanely memorable. It also makes for a killer website/social media photo. So—BE BOLD.

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