Article by: Kopano Moraka
“When my name is spoken of, people breathe” – Lerato Mvelase
A kind reminder to the creator in you; [that] it is not what you say, but rather the decisions you make before you say the words. In this Masterclass, the immaculate Lerato Mvelase shared with us an array of tools, noteworthy moments of expressions, and most of all, humble parts of herself. We are reminded yet again that actors are people of service and that we should continuously offer ourselves to other parts of developing the acting industry through decision-making. What 28 years in the acting industry has taught Lerato is that you cannot afford to just be an actor and that the lack of industry regulation influences the choice of the roles you accept. It is for this reason that you are encouraged to think yourself a MASTER of your own craft as a tool to create a sense of symphonic culture in this industry.
Unpacking the “Master” – Acting Tools for an actor
- Be aware of your space and surroundings. This will help you stay ever-present whilst allowing yourself to consciously feel and experience the moment.
- Watch and learn from how other people behave to build your character.
- Be an actor who has range. This allows you to tap into different roles easily and to never judge the shoes in which you find the character wearing.
- Do not deny the character by failing to immerse yourself into its experiences because of ego.
- Think of your audience as an individual and not as a collective. You owe that one person the same performance and energy you would have given had it been a full house.
- Don’t look for numbers to bring life to your characters.
[S]pecial & [S]piritual
- Understand why you are here. You are too special to think yourself the norm – be eccentric!
- Be a small ray of sunshine that seeps through the tightest of cracks so that the industry as a whole is compelled to recognize you!
- Find time for yourself and stay steadfast in prayer. This permeates through your performances and helps you gravitate and tap into places you need to go for each character/role.
- Become a compassionate actor that is open and allows giving and receiving through performance.
- We are creatures of service, and the goal is to grace both your co-actor and character with selfless performances.
- You are not everyone’s cup of tea. Discernment helps you know what roles are for you and which ones are just not.
- Excellence requires discipline. ‘Iba intsimbi’ [Zulu translation, meaning “to be like metal] and do not let fame get to your head.
- Treat people with the same discipline [that] you want to put into your work.
- Keep your vessel in check; it is a business that will carry you on stage/set. Stay healthy and exercise.
- Be unrefined for the hunger of storytelling. Maintain authenticity in the most natural way possible – this makes you limitless in the spaces you are able to tap into to carry various characters.
- Plan, read, & research. Be an actor that thinks – one who is aware of the meaningful impact you possess, both on social media and to the economic sector of this country.
- Remember: You are more than just an actor.
Be a piece of [A]rt
- You can only become an art-piece when you peel at yourself as an actor.
- Always be conscious of what you put out. The feelings you evoke within an audience is where the magic is.
- Work on your art. Remember that your body is a performance muscle; the more effort you put into it, the bigger your scope and range of diversity in assuming character.
- Ultimately, everyone must want to be part of your light when you walk into a room.
Being a MASTER of your craft requires shunning away from expression(s) that degrade or prohibit you from being a creative contributor to expanding, regulating, healing, and charting the industry. Acting, performing, and storytelling has the power to shape, change, and uplift the spirit of the country, which is one of the greatest responsibilities to your role as a creative in the arts. Remember that we as actors are very spiritual. “We essentially tell people who they are, and reflect on who they want to be”.