How To Know If You're A Selfish Actor. And Why You Need To Stop

Posted by Zedrick Restauro

Back in college, my fellow actors and I were eligible for a competition at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival. A judge watched our production of “Beyond Therapy”, and then got to decide which two actors that would be entered in the competition, but not before sitting down the cast to give reviews of our individual performances. When I got my review she said something that struck me: she noticed that I was a “giving” actor.

 

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As the lead role of Bruce in college production of “Beyond Therapy.”

The judge went on to explain that when a scene is happening and one character is obviously the focus, she likes to look at the scene’s other actor to see what they are doing. She observed in one particular scene, where my scene partner was doing a highly emotional performance during one of her character’s peak arc in the story, that I never stole focus. That everything I did, how I played my character at that moment, was all in support of this amazing performance happening in front of me. That, unlike actors who may seek to steal focus, or to be a scene-stealer, I instead held that actor up in her moment of glory. Being a Giving Actor, she said, was rare, and is something I should never change about myself.

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As guest star Preston on sitcom “Melissa & Joey” with Nick Robinson
(Jurassic World, The 5th Wave) my first ever scene partner on TV.

 

It was an eye-opener to hear that. Even today years later, what she told me still resonates. With it comes a question that I continue to ask myself: I’m not a selfish actor… right?

 

As actors, we have to keep ourselves in check. What we do can be so easily driven by ego and selfishness. The truth is, acting is and has always been about being selfless. We are artists that bare our souls to an audience. Our vulnerability in bringing stories to life is what elicits an emotional response from an audience. We give so much of ourselves so people can feel something, whether they laugh, cry, or whatever in between, their response to our performances is that unique type of human connection we’ve gotten a taste of, and want more of. This kind of selfless relationship should also apply to our relationships with our scene partners.

 

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On set of TV drama Hand Of God as guest star with scene
partner Emayatzy Corinealdi & director Peter Medak.

 

When you know your fellow actor has an emotional scene where the spotlight is on them, don’t try to upstage them. How would you feel if it was your time to shine and another actor is obviously trying to take some of that light away from you? Annoying, right?! It’s our job as actors to be kind to each other, to hold each other up, to raise each other to new heights. When we work on set, or do a play, we are in the trenches with each other, and need to be able to trust each other without reservation. Unfortunately, it is inevitable to meet other actors who seek to steal the spotlight and hold you down for their own sake, so they can stroke their needy egos and pride. Don’t be one of them. I promise you, they do not get far in this business.

 

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As Preston on TV drama “Teen Wolf” with my scene partner & series regular Tyler Posey.

 

There is this myth that you have to be cut-throat to be successful in this industry and it’s completely false. Every time I have the privilege of being a working actor on set, and meet people more successful than I am... time and time again, I am overwhelmed by their kindness. David Beckham was incredibly gracious when we worked on a commercial together, and we cracked jokes and laughed in between takes. Tyler Posey and director/executive producer Russell Mulcahy, both gave me a sincere hug after I had shot my scenes on Teen Wolf, thanking me for being on their show. These seemingly simple acts of kindness meant the world to me. These acts of kindness from these ridiculously successful people were something they did not need to extend towards me. They do it because they are good people, and no matter how many douchebags tell you that nice guys finish last, the truth is: good people succeed and thrive. Being a selfish artist can only get you so far.

 

Yes, there have been times when I have been a selfish actor. I made too big a deal of roles that were not meant for the scope I made them out to be. In doing so, I stole focus from another character. I defied the story just so I could have a little bit more of the spotlight on me, betraying whoever would be my scene partner, and betraying the story. Rightfully so, I didn’t land these auditions. I made the story be in service of the actor, instead of the actor being in service of the story.

 

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As waiter on Modern Family w/ scene partners Eric Stonestreet & Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

 

I speak about this now because at this point in my career, I realize that being a Giving Actor is more important than ever. As of this writing, the majority of roles I book are as guest cast in TV shows, where it is my job to hold up the series regulars. It is my job to contribute to their story arcs, and be a part of moving their storylines forward. In comedies for example, my characters are usually the ones to set up the main character’s jokes. Even when I get the joke in a comedy, or a highly emotional scene in a drama, it is still ultimately to contribute to the plight of the main character. I am in a position many actors, especially those pursuing film and TV, will find themselves in, and selfishness has no place in it. Even past this point, when I become a series regular myself, or one of the leads in a studio movie, I know I’ll have to remain a Giving Actor. And by that time, being giving is something I will have been doing for a while... so I trust it will be a skill I will have honed well, and a motivation I will have embedded deep in my acting instincts, that however it is I will need to be giving, it will come naturally.

 

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 Left: with cast & director of movie Hickey (2016) watching playback at video village.
Right: movie still with fellow lead actors Flavia Watson, Troy Doherty, and Raychel Diane Weiner. 

Selfishness and wanting to steal the spotlight, you have to recognize, come from a place of fear: the fear of not being good enough. A fear that pushes you to hold others back so you can feel better about yourself. But it’s a fear you don’t need to have. You are good at what you do, you have to believe that. And if you don’t feel you are yet, train and hone your craft! Get coaching, take classes, create your own content, do whatever you can and must, until you do believe it.

 

You are good. And you are enough. Believe in these fully so that all you have left to do is give.


How To Know If Youre A Selfish Actor And Why You Need To Stop

 

About Zedrick:


Zedrick Restauro is an actor with a growing body of work across TV, film, and commercials. Zedrick will be seen guest starring on the 2nd season of Amazon series Hand Of God early 2017, and in a lead role in the movie Hickey to be distributed everywhere late 2016. His guest roles on TV include Modern Family, Teen Wolf, and Melissa & Joey; Film credits include Super Shark, Bikini Spring Break, and 200 M.P.H; Commercial credits include Sprint, Choice Hotels, and Hewlett Packard.


Zedrick is Filipino-American, was born and raised in the Philippines, and is a Los Angeles-based actor. He enjoys hiking, video games, live band karaoke, chasing his toddler nephews and nieces, and spending time with close friends.
 


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