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The Industry

Ivana Chubbuck’s Top Pieces of Advice to Actors

Throughout my years as an actor, I read many of the iconic books about acting and found them highly theoretical – not a practical guide on script analysis. I set about writing a book that was a real nuts and bolts, “how-to” guide to breaking down a script from the point of view of the actor, writer, and director. I created 12 easy steps to follow based in these sciences: behavioural science, psychology, and cultural anthropology. Since the 12 Step Chubbuck Technique is based in the science of how we live and behave on a daily basis, it is easy to understand and utilise. My book has been translated in languages all over the world, and I get emails daily from international actors – just by using the 12 steps/tools, their careers changed dramatically.

I have a lot of great advice to actors to help them improve and hone their craft. Here are just a few of my top pieces of advice to actors embarking on a career in this demanding industry:

  1. Make sure that your overall objective provides a primal human need that creates a universal journey, one that everyone in the world can support and cheer for. In this way, all people/audiences from every corner of the world and every segment of society can relate to it and therefore change and grow from the experience.
  2. Don’t play the character, be the character. Find your personal connection that relates to the character on the page so you can always be present and in the moment – needing what you want from a truthful and necessary place.
  3. Celebrate your flaws, fears and insecurities – it is what makes you interesting and special.
  4. Never colour the underbelly of your work with sadness. Sadness creates lethargy, and inertia – the inability to make moves. Anger is a fuel that makes us do things that in normal circumstances we would never do. I always say, “Anger moves mountains, sadness digs a hole.” It creates passionate behaviour.
  5. Humour, even in the darkest of dramas, is important to bring into your work. You can’t see the dark, without the comparison to the light. Humour also makes the experience of watching a play, movie, or television, a more enjoyable experience. Chekhov’s plays are filled with satire (humour) alongside profound drama. This is why he is such a celebrated playwright that has stood the test of time. You’ll find this is true of all the great authors that have historical value!
  6. Sexuality is key to creating chemistry with other people. And chemistry, or lack of it, can make or break the success of a movie, TV show or play. Sexuality is also something that no matter someone’s religion, geography, language, moral priorities, intellect, socio-economic stature or occupation, can understand and relate to. We, being human animals, have primal needs. By bringing sexuality into the work, as one of the layers, it can make the actor/character desirable and therefore someone you want to see again and again.
  7. Take risks, never play it safe. There’s more satisfaction for the actor and the audience when choices are made from fearlessness. Bottom line: Fear is antithetical to art.
  8. Greatness is in the details. It takes a lot of work to create the details. But if we’re duplicating real human behaviour, we have to duplicate the complicated nature of being human too.
  9. Have a strong work ethic. Success in any field takes time, and work. Lazy is for losers. It’s those who work really hard on their script analysis, rehearse a lot, and take the vast amount of time it takes to create a real three dimensional human being – they are the winners. This is true of all the stars that I’ve worked with.

Ivana Chubbuck is the founder and director of the Ivana Chubbuck Studio and creator of the cutting edge and widely adopted Chubbuck Technique. There are 16 ongoing classes at the Ivana Chubbuck Studio, ranging from introductory to master classes. The Studio maintains a focus on producing and nurturing working actors in a rigorous professional environment. It is our mission to empower our students with the tools to become successful and to make dynamic, empowered choices in their work. Some of the actors Ivana has worked with during her 30-plus year career include Academy Award winners and nominees such as Charlize Theron, James Franco, Halle Berry, Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Voigt, Sylvester Stallone, Djimon Honsou, Terrence Howard, Catherine Keener and Jared Leto. Read more on Ivana’s website, and find out more about The Power of the Actor (available in various languages). Read quotes from star actors, and directors on her technique here