Are the roles you audition for ones that you relate to? Can you draw upon something within yourself to create a truly authentic and believable performance? In today’s Vox Daily, we take a look at three ways an actor can approach a role inspired by the musings of distinguished actor, Johnny Depp.

What’s Acting, Anyway?

“With any part you play, there’s a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” -Johnny Depp

As Johnny Depp states in this fascinating quote, acting is more than just playing pretend. Acting is temporarily stepping into the shoes of someone else while not losing yourself. It’s important that actors make unique contributions to their roles. That’s what makes a performance memorable. You live in the tension of maintaining both the character’s integrity and your own.

Wonder how it’s done?

Here are three things you can do to make your performances more believable, more authentic, for real.

1 – Being Selective With Your Roles

Get more intentional with the roles you audition for. Being a “Jack” or “Jill of All Trades” doesn’t pan out for most actors on a voicing level let alone on a personal level. Knowing what you excel at will make your job as an actor easier. You’ll be able to quickly determine which jobs you’ll be considering and which ones you’ll leave unanswered. When you go after the work you really want to do (because you identify with the copy, style or character), you’ll sound more authentic given your existing comfort level with the work. One could argue that no matter what mask an actor wears, their authenticity (or lack thereof) will seep through in an actor’s performance.

2 – Connecting With A Character

Finding common ground with your character and their story is helpful for creating a more genuine performance that builds upon your past experiences, beliefs and values. Similar to our last point, you’ll find that some characters or voice-over projects will be a better fit simply because you’re already in alignment with the particulars of the role or script. Popping in pieces of yourself may come naturally, especially if you are similar to your character or enjoy the material you’re reading. When you connect with the character, you may feel that connection on an emotional level and a psychological level. Many actors also adopt the same physicality or posture of their characters which makes their performances that much more compelling.

3 – Exploring Challenging Roles

What happens though if a character is the polar opposite of you? Maybe an audition has crossed your path where you’d need to portray a character, tell a story or sell a product you don’t personally connect with. Should you walk away? This scenario could either present a unique growing opportunity as an actor or its pursuit could lead to lamentation! If you find difficulty in this, it will be harder to execute on an authentic performance here than with other roles you might try. You may need to dig deep within yourself to relate to the copy. It might feel like pulling teeth to feel connected to the script! How does this translate? The copy or character could come across as disjointed; your audience could get the impression that you’re trying too hard or may sense that your heart just isn’t in it.

What If You’re Already Committed?

If you are cast in a role that is demanding so far as connection goes (as in you’re really struggling with inspiration — not with whether you want to do it or not), draw upon memories, personal experiences or anything that can bring you closer to the character or their situation. Not everything you do will be a party or bring you immense joy. Sometimes work is work. Find ways to empathize with your character. Look to props, images or other tools that can help you connect better with the audience and the story you are trying to tell. If you find a way to add a bit of yourself into your read (while honoring the author’s intent), the project will go more smoothly and the end result will be that much more believable.

Time To Talk!

Is Johnny Depp’s quote resonating with you, or do you disagree with what he has said? Is it lying to not put a part of yourself into a role? How do you navigate these waters?
Looking forward to your reply!

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. One cannot totally divorcé one’s self from any role – way to much
    inner conflict – a distraction – once I stopped trying to be
    someone else my auditions and work increased –


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