Whether you love him or hate him, Donald J. Trump is a force to be reckoned with. No one ever thought that the billionaire reality star would ever make it this far in the 2016 race for the White House. In spite of his many missteps and public blunders, a lot of people don’t seem too concerned. So what can we do about it? For me, I have chosen to take an alternative route and see what I can learn from Trump as an actor. And I have to tell you, it’s quite a lot.
Any actor will tell you that in training, we are taught to be bold. The choices we make with our character and the script must be provocative in order to be the most interesting. Sure, sometimes it is appropriate that we make choices that are safe, quiet, and unassuming. But for the larger majority of characters we are required to dig a little deeper into our toolbox and pull out something audacious. Remind you of someone? I think most people would agree that Trump is the definition of bold. He does and says things that many people wouldn’t even think. However, because of that he has tapped into something that all actors search for: freedom.
This one is a no brainier. In real life, a lot of the decisions we make aren’t necessarily planned. Nobody walks around with a script of how they will react to questions when asked–except for actors. The problem is that actors are always in their heads–unable to live in the moment. Now you might argue that the level of spontaneity exhibited by Trump might not be the greatest quality in a President (which is another debate that I will not get into), but for actors, it’s just the right amount. Every time I watch a Trump interview I get a rush. Not because he might say something profound or perhaps slightly offensive. I get excited because nothing about Trump seems planned. Isn’t that how we want to be seen as actors? Trump is living truthfully in the moment–for better or worse.
Conflict is a word that is all too familiar for actors. I can’t count the amount of times I have been asked the question, “What’s the conflict of the scene?” We know conflict is an essential ingredient of any good scene, and it is our job as actors to convey the struggle of the character truthfully. What’s even more important is that we make choices as actors that ultimately lead to more conflict–which creates an engaging drama not unlike the current political race. Now I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but Donald Trump has caused a lot of conflict. But guess what? We still watch him because that tension creates a heightened reality–and that is quite interesting.
The point is, we can learn about our craft by examining what’s happening in our culture. I’ve learned so much about acting just by looking at things in a different light, and I urge you to do the same.
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