If you recall in one of my older posts (see “The Mask Is Off Permanently”) I mentioned feeling type-casted and bullied by casting directors at my college because of the roles I got in the campus plays. I felt it was all based on my looks which weren’t conventionally “good looking” enough for any other role other than someone who the audience laughs at when he falls, does something stupid or is slapped over the head by the conventionally handsome protagonist. So a year or so after graduation, I still wanted to act, but mainly because it was my completed major. To be honest, my heart wasn’t in it anymore, but I refused to work at a “regular job”. So what would be the logical alternative? Voice acting, voice overs, pretty much anything performance related by using your voice talent. So I talked about this by email with my old college director. He recommended getting in touch with a voice coach he knows that ironically has two studios in my hometown. So I did just that. The first thing I did after contacting her was attend a day-long seminar where we sit, introduce ourselves and take turns with the studio microphone reading a small script. Simple enough. I actually enjoyed it and was eager to continue. The voice coach got in touch with me a couple days later and asked me if I was interested in doing one-on-one training sessions with her in preparation for me recording a professional demo for voice-over companies. She also asked if I would like to take part in a couple more general group-oriented acting classes in that same studio. I said yes to both, not worried about the cost.
Here are a list of things that took place while I did these things…
1. The voice coach told me I would do just great playing one of the “clown characters” in a play if I was still interested in acting.
2. The voice coach observed me in the first couple class sessions. In the following one-on-one sessions she said, “I don’t see you interact with the other students at all. You kinda keep to yourself.”
“I propose you work on practicing smiling and asking one of the people how they are doing every time you come into the class. THESE ARE NICE PEOPLE!”
3. She didn’t like a very heartfelt, hurt, and honest poem I wrote and recited as an exercise in a class that wasn’t attacking anyone, but it wasn’t particularly happy. The next one-on-one session she told me she thought it was hateful and then compared me to Hitler. This is what she said, “I know there are plenty of reasons why people in history were angry. Even Hitler must have had a reason to do the terrible things he did”
4. She mocked my shy mush-mouthed delivery I sometimes have when I am nervous. She did this right in front of the whole class.
5. She told me in a session that my demeanor can be off-putting to people.
6. She said she wanted me to smile more because people deserve to see more of the “real Sam.”
7. She said if I don’t smile more I will be playing the roles of thugs my entire life.
8. She demanded that I get a Netflix subscription so I can watch an On Demand documentary on author JD Sallanger because I apparently identify exactly with his misanthropic, mopey and introverted attitude. So seeing as these are all bad things to her I could “learn something from it”.
9. She didn’t like that I had a unique, non conforming personality and wanted me to act like every other boring, same ol same ol individual like I was hurting others or something.
10. On our last one-on-one meeting, before I chose never to see her again, she ended the session with a sarcastic “Well…I’m glad you got some extra hours at TJ Maxx” and then shrugged like she pitied me.
If you are any kind of coach or director in any professional field and you are reading this blog post, AVOID DOING ANY OF THESE THINGS OR ELSE YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM!
STAMP OUT STIGMA. It will save lives.
That is all.