Using imagination, props, and costumes is an effective way to embody a new role.
Picture this: after years of paying your dues, you’ve finally been promoted to senior manager. Suddenly, you have to guide a team and the higher-ups expect you to challenge them if necessary. But even though you’ve been working hard for this promotion, you’re not sure you’re ready for it. After all, you don’t feel anything like a senior manager.
This situation is a lot like what happens when an actor is cast in a new role. They’re given scripts and storylines to learn, and have to fully embody the role, however unfamiliar it feels. Luckily, actors have a few tricks to help them get into character, and these can work for you, too.
The key message here is: Using imagination, props, and costumes is an effective way to embody a new role.
Succeeding in a new role requires behaving in ways that might seem out of the ordinary. One way actors do this convincingly is through a version of the Stanislavski Method, the brainchild of Russian actor, producer, and director Konstantin Stanislavski.
Stanislavski encouraged actors to see the world from their characters’ perspectives, both on and off the stage. Following his advice, many actors imagine the things happening to their characters “as if” they’re happening to them. This is known as The Magic If exercise, and it came in handy for the author when she had to maintain her composure as a witness in court.
Although she felt vulnerable, the author focused on a TV character who was the very definition of strong and fearless. The author imagined how she would dress and carry herself if she was that character. Doing so helped her overcome her fears and act with the confidence the defense team expected.
So, the next time you don’t feel ready for a new role, imagine how you would behave if you were exactly who and what that role demanded.
Another actor’s trick is using costumes and props to get into the right mindset for a particular role. Dressing differently and carrying props affects how people behave and how others respond to them.
For instance, a senior executive might walk around with an important-looking notebook, or dress in a way that makes him feel more confident. In fact, clothes have such an effect that the phrase “suit up” is now widely used to describe preparing for an important task.