Originally published on Backstage
Are you looking for fresh inspiration for your acting? Or even life in general? Reading more books could help you be the best version of you and help your acting career have more of an x-factor.
Reading increases your empathy. Think about it, when you read — especially when you read a story about someone so completely the opposite of you — you get a glimpse of how that person feels, thinks, and what motivates them to move one way or another.
This is a huge benefit for the actor struggling to connect with a character they don’t relate to. And it’s also helpful to get you out of taking a stereotypical approach on an unfamiliar character, helping you think outside the box to a more original and believable response.
By reading, you increase your awareness of the world around you. Giving you a better understanding of different cultures, family dynamics, relationships, and showing you how everyone has a different reaction to the same situation, even if it’s only a small subtle change. And having this broader awareness can help you play a more believable character.
Reading helps to improve your memory. For a career where learning lines fast is a must, this is an incredible benefit for actors. Especially, when working on a show where you have to learn hundreds of lines in a week. How cool is it that reading can actually help your brain work better!? Not only do you get to read something fun, but it’s helping you mentally too.
Reading helps your concentration and focus. Both are vital to the actor working on a chaotic film set. We know how it goes. Makeup or hair race in to fix some minor detail between takes. Lights are being repositioned, the camera is changing a lens or moving from the tripod to a dolly. Before the words “Action” and “Cut” there’s a lot happening. Taking the time to read every day, can help you keep out some of that noise to focus on why you’re there.
Reading improves your vocabulary and helps reduce stress. Having a larger vocabulary can help you communicate with more accuracy when talking to the director on his vision for the role you’re playing.
Let’s be honest, we’ve chosen one of the most stressful career paths, there’s not much stability. One minute you could have a regular spot on a show, the next the series is finished or your character gets killed off and you’re back to finding another job. And it could take months or even years to find another semi-regular spot. It’s a relief to know reading helps to reduce these career stressors.
In fact, reading before bed may even help those who struggle to fall asleep. Reading shifts your focus away from all the random things that keep us awake at night. It acts as a reset button, helping our minds to shut off so we can actually get quality sleep.
These are only a few ways reading can help your acting career and make you a healthier you. There are many other benefits to reading – including an improvement in analytical thinking, writing skills and storytelling (which is great for creating compelling backstory), and making you more intelligent.
Reading is good for us. Besides, you never know when you’ll audition for the next big blockbuster based on a novel you’ve read – you’ll be better prepared than an actor who isn’t familiar with the story.
And if you’re hesitant to take on a full novel, check out blogs like The Dreamcatcher’s Journal for some fun speculative fiction short stories to get you reading more. Ok, time for me to go read now.