From Charlie's Desk > About Being Nervous - Part 1

#1 in a series

Even though I was a working actor, and making a pretty good living, I continued to take classes the whole time I lived in L.A.  One of the classes I took was with the head of casting from one of the studios - I don’t recall which one it was but I believe his name was Chris.  We were working on scenes that had been assigned to us, and my partner was a lovely young lady who was fairly new to the business.  She was extremely nervous, so nervous that she was literally shaking.  You could actually hear the paper in her hand rattling! Finally Chris said “Sit down, Sweetheart, and take a deep breath.  You’re scaring me to death!”  She sat down and did as he suggested, and after a few deep breaths, finally began to relax.  “What’s the matter?” Chris asked.  “Well, I’m just really nervous,” she said.  “Why are you nervous?” he asked. “I’m pretty new at this and all the other people have a lot more experience than I do and you’re a big shot and I’m afraid I won’t do a good job and you won’t like me,” she blurted, almost in tears.  Never be nervous about being nervous,” he told her, “Just use it in the scene.”  “What do you mean?” she asked.  The scene was about a young mother whose baby was very sick.  “Don’t be nervous about me or the rest of the class, be nervous about the baby.  What could happen to it?  What will the doctor do?  How will you pay for the treatment?  Just put it in the scene,” he said. “Then the more nervous you are the better the scene will be.”  After that, we did the scene again and he was right.  The scene was just terrific; all that nervous energy she had really made it work.
That was one of the best pieces of advise I ever heard; “Just put it in the scene.”  Amazingly, it works in any kind of scene.  In a love scene, you’re nervous because you’re not supposed to be in love with that person, or your love might not be accepted, or you’ve never been in love before, or any number of reasons.  The same is true for any other kind of scene; drama, comedy, whatever the scene might be about you can always find a reason to be nervous about it.  You can’t just tell yourself not to be nervous so,”Just put it in the scene.”  
We’ll talk more about nerves next issue.  And never be nervous about being nervous! 

Charlie Holliday