I TOTALLY HAVE A WIFE AND THIS IS HER! - Paul
SPOTLIGHT ON BEST PERFORMERS: JANIE HADDAD TOMPKINS
STARCAST: How long have you been acting, and what inspired you to become an actor?
JANIE: My first experience with acting was in middle school. What most inspired me to pursue acting was my love of the written word; I love to read. Since I’ve always been a fan of writing, I figured the best way to pay homage to stories you love is to bring them to life.
STARCAST: How did you prepare for your StarCast scene? What informed your performance?
JANIE: The main way I prepared was convincing my best friend to read the scene with me! He had to do it, or I wouldn’t have given him his keys back ;-)
STARCAST: What kind of acting gigs have you had thus far, if any?
JANIE: My bread and butter is commercial and VO acting, at the moment. I want to take all of that practical experience I’ve gained working in the smaller co-star TV roles, voicing cartoons and shooting commercials to the next level of more substantial television work.
STARCAST: We know you’ve fantasized about an awards acceptance speech. How does the opening line go?
JANIE: I would thank the people that watched my work, either on TV, stage or film, whether they bought a ticket with their hard earned money to see it or paid to have cable to watch it or download it. If it weren’t for the audience (the most important element), it wouldn’t have happened.
STARCAST: Have you had any notable successes or setbacks you think other actors could learn from?
JANIE: I’ve made so many mistakes that have been helpful that I could ostensibly fit into a book. I think one of the BIGGEST mistakes (of which I have been guilty at times) you can make as an actor is to compare your own career, your own journey and your own place in this business to other people. Never do that, or you will die inside. ‘Comparison is death’ is something me and my friends repeat as a mantra.
STARCAST: Have you had any acting training, and can you speak a little bit to the importance of drama programs or acting classes?
JANIE: I have mixed feelings about acting training. I chose to get my MFA, and I wouldn’t trade that experience. It was intense, basically three years of boot camp classical acting training. However, that was three years that I wasn’t trying to ‘make it’ as an actor, so to speak. I have many friends that came straight to L.A. and started putting in the years, and they will always have that time over me of learning on the fly and making industry connections along the way while I was locked away in a theatre doing Shakespeare and Shaw. I don’t think it is required to do something like that to learn great acting technique. There are many ways of picking that up. I once took a weekend workshop with the wonderful Patsy Rodenburg on ‘Presence’ and, in two days, we covered an entire college semester’s worth of incredible acting technique. I believe that you can find out ways to study what works for you outside the box. My scene study class with Joan Rosenfels, back when I lived in New York, taught me more about who I am as an artist than a lot of training I pursued. I think acting training is so varied and personal that you have to find YOUR teacher, YOUR approach, what resonates with YOU. Talk to other artists, ask around, audit classes - don’t just take with who’s popular or hot, find someone who gets what you’re trying to achieve in your work.
STARCAST: What are your favorite actors’ services and resources?
JANIE: Honestly, the BEST resource is your own brain the camera on your smartphone and the internet. Make projects with friends, do podcasts, tweet, Facebook, maybe start a blog or something (I did a vlog for two years) - get out there and network through all of these great outlets that exist. Also, I want to mention Bonnie Gillespie’s (@bonniegillespie) book ‘Self Management for Actors’. It’s incredibly helpful for the career aspect of acting. Also, read other actor’s blogs out there, it’s amazing the comfort you can find from this shared experience of trying to make it in this industry.
STARCAST: What’s your dream role, and do you have a favorite actor or actress?
JANIE: I don’t have a dream role, per se, but my dream job is to be a part of a smart, cable ensemble show. I love ensemble acting because I am much more inclined to be inspired and work off of my cast mates, than to be the type of actor that carries something on my own shoulders. To be part of a team like that working toward a specific goal excites me (I think of it sort of like basketball versus tennis). I’d love to be on something with a nice long run so my character could really grow and I could sink my teeth into my character’s arc. I really love actor’s that project authenticity - I am inspired by actors like Alan Alda, Alfred Molina, Helen Mirren, am loving Lena Dunham right now, even though she’s new on the scene, Sally Hawkins - people who are ‘in their own skin’ - that is the kind of actor I love. I melt when I see that.
STARCAST: What are your short term acting goals?
JANIE: In the short term? Continually perfect my audition technique. I want to crack the nut of why sometimes I am amazing in the room, and why sometimes I disintegrate. I want to find consistency with each and every audition…part of that is just getting into more and more rooms so it becomes old hat, but the other half of it is finding that state of grace to drop into no matter what is going on in my life or around me.
STARCAST: The biz can be tough. What motivates you to keep at it?
JANIE: Other actors and writers! Right now I think such exciting things are happening in TV, I mean, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Enlightened’, ‘Mad Men??’ Come ON. Such amazing writing and acting happening right now, I want to be a part of that! That is what motivates me, sign me UP!
STARCAST: Do you have any audition tips for your fellow actors out there?
JANIE: Be kind to yourself, be kind to your fellow actors. Stay focused, be prepared, act professional. Now do all that, and TRY not to care about the job. Just try to win the audition experience. Then, forget about it and on to the next. Easier said than done, I am still working on this.
STARCAST: Do you have a website, YouTube channel or reel you would like us to post? And do you have a Twitter or other social media handle where you would like people to follow you?
JANIE: On twitter I’m @janiehaddad, also, I have a fun, weekly podcast that I do with my best friend who is a television writer. It’s called “Janie & Aaron Does Hollywood”, it’s free on iTunes and Stitcher.
Thanks, JANIE! To view her StarCast performance, visit www.starcastauditions.com/best-performances. Shift the sort function from “Most Recent” to “All” if you do not see her video. Industry may request contact with her there.
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