Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our Obsession with "THE LEAD"

It's time to have the discussion. Maybe we should start with a question...

Are we obsessed with being THE LEAD??

If so, what is this about?

Please allow me to elaborate.I've been teaching a class on Actors B.S. (to be discussed later) and I'm learning so much.

During my class, I work on Type. The Typing process made some actors "feel" some type of way about how they are being typed. So we discuss it.  I learn that many actors want to be Leading Men/Ladies. When you say they are character actors or types, their faces got all scrunched up and eyes rolled around in their heads. Truly not happy about being typed as a character actor, the question is asked.. Why cant I be the "Lead"?? I see myself as a Lead and I want to do Lead work.

I wonder..what are we equating with the word or term  "Lead"?

My questions then become..How do you feel about yourself? Do you need to be the Center of Attention? What does Lead mean to you? Does being the Lead, validate you in some way?
Denzel dreams? Halle Berry wishes?
Do you have a Passion for this Industry? Do you truly have a passion for The Craft? Does the Lead make more money? If yes, are you sure?

You reveal alot about your Ego when LEAD roles are your obsession. One young lady compared herself to Paula Patton saying she is "mixed" so therefore she should be a Lead. (SERIOUSLY!!!)

For this particular Blog, I'm truly interested in Comments from the Acting community.  Can you guys answer some questions for me please? Post others as well.

Looking forward to your thoughts and Feelings!

Update: Lets be clear that it should NOT be about proving yourself as
worthy, able or talented. That should exist in your spirit already. The Craft is the Craft. work towards being the Best you can be. Lead does NOT mean Best.

16 comments:

Jo Mani said...

Never concerned with being the "Lead". My goal is to be the most memorable character and just being part of telling a great story. I don't care if it's two lines.

Taylor Polidore said...

Hi Twinkie!

My name is Taylor Polidore and I am a 21 year old actress in Atlanta, GA and in my opinion actors obsess about the lead because we want to prove ourselves and show that we can accomplish such a great task. I feel like we do want to hear our names mentioned with the greats one day. Why not aspire to exceptional? To me, it's not about being the center of attention but having a sense of accomplishment of something great. I want to do my best with any role given and I feel like as a lead it gives you much more opportunity to truly do your best and show your best. I don't think the obsession has anything to do with the money - maybe to people who actually have been leads in major motion pictures! I feel like actors hate being typed because it feels as though you're being boxed in. Ultimately, in my career, I want versatility. I want to be able to play any role and do it justice, even though I'm sure there's a type I fall into. As an artist, we don't want limits. Hope this helps! Love your work and I look forward to your book and taking a class with you one day!

Taylor

Paula Page said...

Hi Twinkie. I'm so glad you are doing this blog and I will definitely be a follower/participant as you invoke thought and knowledge.

With regard to what does it mean to be the Lead? I believe this is one of the principle characters who escorts us through the storyline. That storyline may be about someone or something else.

For me, it's not important to be the lead now, but to make as substantial of a commitment and contribution to the artistic piece, even if it is one or two lines. It is a start that will "lead" somewhere. I would love to have a supporting role. Many huge careers have begun with one line. IE, Angela Bassett in Kindergarten Cop ("May I get you something?") was the sum total of her lines in that movie, but it led her to a very long and successful career. She went from one liner to being the lead in many films. Octavia Spencer as Minnie in the help-Best Supporting Oscar winner. I think this is a process of learning your craft very well via classes, coaching, theater, reading, and taking steps in the right direction, gaining as much knowledge about the business and having mentoring along the way from the experts such as yourself, and who knows, one may be the "Lead" someday. The "overnight success", I believe is the exception to the rule. It does happen. But please correct me if I am wrong. By the way, I have attended your workshop in the past, which I found very informative and invaluable. I would be very interested in attending your Actors BS class. Paula Page-Sag/Aftra Actress

Devin said...

Love this issue! It took me years (and a new haircut) to realize I was a character actress (wish I'd realized it sooner :p), but now I relish the chance to be "different," quirky, and unique!

Lisa Ivey said...

As an actor myself, I understand that almost reflex desire for the Lead. That misguided feeling that 'Lead' is synonymous with 'Best'. In our desperate efforts to attain recognition of our talents (those of us who truly believe we have a gift to share and are in it for a pure unadulterated love of the craft), we forget the truth. The truth that should have inevitably come in sober moments when witnessing perfection while watching a non-lead actor in a film deliver the most memorable performance of that film. When you realize a few minutes of screen time as a character/type can be so very powerful. Like Evan Peters in X-Men days of future past (I just finished watching it so still very fresh in my memory, as is the longing to see more of his character). We forget in our desperation that we should focus more on being the actor that writers want to write for and directors want to direct the best scene of the film for (Which Evan definitely had) and CDs have all the faith in casting us because they know we can deliver a full bodied character in 1/200th of the time given to the Lead. We forget to be the actor and (super)human that will not get lost in the smallness that vanity and greed inevitably breeds. In my training I was taught there are no small roles...only small actors. So, i say embrace your 'non-lead' roles and make your mark with those. Focus more on delivering what was envisioned for your role. Your scene/s. You dont have to be the lead to be memorable. And sometimes your role is to fit in rather than stand out. Embrace your role. There are no small roles. Only small actors. Be big. One Love.

Amy Cohen said...

Like Twinkie said, do you want fame or a career developing your talent and entertaining people. A really great performance can garner both.

Deandra J said...

I think its a part of this industry machine that I am not sure who propels it.

We can't ignore the idea of a sense validation and accomplishment gained by a leading role exists. Does it mean more lines? camera time? more money ?.... maybe. I asked a consumer what does being a lead actor mean and of course it meant "importance" . The thing is we exist in a world with 9-5er's who couldn't possibly understand us or the industry yet they judge us by their perception of success.

I am still processing this post... as I search myself to find if I could ever be guilty of some of the feelings you described.

Ahmad Russ said...

Excellent blog post. On some level here in this country we are obsessed with being the top dog or the best. Thinking about watching movies as a kid, the leading man was a hero, gentleman, bad ass and many other things that although we couldnt explain it at the time, we liked.

Now fast forward to actually being in this business, your type and the reality of your career will vary. The fact is not all of us can be Indiana Jones. That can be accepted especially after you find your niche and see your career start to unfold. That said, I dont understand why anyone would move to town without the goal of being at the top of the game, on billboards being the leading man that launches films on thousands of screens. You may or may not get there but thats the goal

Deandra J said...

I think its a part of this industry machine that I am not sure who propels it.

We can't ignore the idea of a sense validation and accomplishment gained by a leading role exists. Does it mean more lines? camera time? more money ?.... maybe. I asked a consumer what does being a lead actor mean and of course it meant "importance" . The thing is we exist in a world with 9-5er's who couldn't possibly understand us or the industry yet they judge us by their perception of success.

I am still processing this post... as I search myself to find if I could ever be guilty of some of the feelings you described.

Dom laf said...

Often times I find myself being thankful that I embarked on this journey in to the industry completely ignorant and Free of expectations and a sense of entitlement. It's helped me to have a level head and look at things non objectively . With that said, when I think of the lead I think of someone who is bearing the weight of the entire film. Whether it does good or bad, you are the first person they are looking at. When you think of a great movie you think of the lead actor and how fantastic he or she did. And in the same manner when you see a bad movie you think of how horrible the lead did. For me it's not based on a higher pay rate or the amount of exposure. In this day that we live in the lead could die within the first hour of the film or have the same amount of lines as the ensemble cast. The lead for me is the person who bears the weight of the success of the film. I value the supporting cast and the background cast because they make the story come to life. A captain is only as good as his ship and the lead actor is only as good as his supporting cast. Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls was amazing. I broke my
neck after seeing The Help just to read about Aunjanue Ellis because her story within the story moved me so much. I thought her performance was wonderful and I just had to know more about the artist. Amandla Stenburg as Rue in the Hunger Games really touched me. I had to know who this little girl was and what her story is. Her role was small but big also. It's the story within the story and everyone has a lead role.

Jackai said...

I certainly would eventually love to grow to a point where I could play lead roles but in the beginning I wouldn't mind starting off with supporting or costarring roles. I believe that as an actor from the continent of Africa, I bring something unique to the table and can play supporting or costarring African male roles in feature films and TV series. I am more versatile than that of course...but in the beginning I wouldn't mind starting off that way until by God's grace I develop some clout to widen my range.

www.facebook.com/jackaiactor

Kym Whitehead said...

My only interest rests in being a working actress. And that's in ANY capacity.

Angel said...

I don’t think the majority of talented hard working actors equate “being the lead with being the best actor”, but simply being recognized for our talent in the eyes of the film industry. (And I'm not talking about just getting famous) There are countless supporting roles in films where these actors show their innate ability to convey a character that is so convincing. These actors are outstanding, often times much better than the lead character and several of these actors have brought home the Oscar. But it is time the film industry recognizes more of our talent as leaders and not just supporters. It is a tough industry with very few scripts even getting written for black talent. Yes, Hollywood has come a long way for black actors, but it definitely has not come to where it needs to be. We still have to fight and scrape for black films that are full of great talent just to get the Greenlight. Of course, it is important for us to strive for lead. We marvel at Halle and Denzel because they set a precedent for the future for all actors of color. It took 40 years for them to be recognized by Hollywood, despite countless amazing performances both lead and supporting. 40 years of testing black talent to be recognized for what should have been recognized years ago from all of those brilliant works. Now the door is opened a little wider for the rest of us to strive for the lead roles we deserve.

Keasha Bell said...

It's all about trusting God, knowing who are you, and what you bring to the table. I'm considered a character actor, and I don't have a problem with that. Often, it's the character actor or supporting actor that moves the story along.Everyone can't be a lead.Actors should equate being a lead with success.

keasha said...

Excuse me,the above comment should read: It's all about trusting God and knowing who you are. Actors shouldn't equate success with being a lead.***

keasha said...

Excuse me,the above comment should read: It's all about trusting God and knowing who you are. Actors shouldn't equate success with being a lead.***