How do I become a better actor without so much hand gestures?

by Bella
(london)

QUESTION:

I want to become an actress so bad but somehow when I'm acting there's always something wrong with my acting that I can't figure out and I don't know what the problem is sometimes. I think that I can't act because of my constant hand gesturing.

ANSWER:

In a way, you're right. If you gesture a lot, you can't act, because actors often use hand gestures to deflect emotions or make up for lack of connection with the material.

When you start acting, you can't expect to pick up a scene or monologue and just do it perfectly. You have to go through the process. As you study acting, you gradually become better and better at the process until you get to a point where your craft allows you to give a good performance even in a cold reading (when you just picked up a script for the first time).

The best way to get to that point is to get good rehearsal habits from the start (ie. avoiding bad habits like gesturing). So practice saying the words to your acting monologues and acting scenes while standing completely still. It will feel awkward at first, but if you stay open to that feeling and breathe, concentrating on the meaning of the words and trying to get them across to your acting partner, you will eventually get to a place where stillness is not only not awkward, it is also very powerful. Once you get there, you'll be able to move and gesture only when you feel a true impulse to do so as your character, not as an actor who feels uncomfortable.

You can read more about gesturing in in this previous post. Another very helpful thing is to watch great film actors and study how they use their body. Al Pacino is a the best example I can think of.

Good luck with your acting career!

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Movement Classes
by: Alex

I forgot to mention that a lot of actors find movement classes for actors helpful, along with Alexander Technique classes.

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