Ask Auntie Act: How Can I Be Original?
For this month, beloved Auntie Trash hands over her opinion column to new national treasure Courtney Act
Dear Auntie Act,
I'm an aspiring actor, but I keep on getting compared to other performers.
How can I make my act truly original?
Well, first, I just want to say thanks to Auntie Trash for letting me take over her agony aunt spot for June. Since that little TV appearance in January, people (not just the wonderful Drag Race fans) seem to value my opinion and say hi in the street, so thank you.
How do you make your Act truly original? Well, I’m not an actor! But here’s my T.
Being an actor is all about conforming to someone else’s idea of a character. It’s not bad to be compared to someone else, well, it depends who you’re being compared to – but don’t fear that similarity. An actor’s job isn’t always to be unique, the job is to pull off the role of the character – when we look at those who are the most highly regarded in the industry, from stage or screen, they often have that certain something that places them apart – so if you’re trying to stand out from the crowd the best way to do that is to be yourself. Simple huh?
Performance, being yourself and refusing to conform is something I know very well. We don’t conform in drag, you’re being your own character – the things that inspire you, whether it be a TV theme song or a political oppression, brings about creativity. Your performance is a response to that trigger.
Courtney Act is always going to be original as it’s my take on this world and her place in it. Your act is always going to be original if you follow how you feel, because of YOUR unique take on life.
With drag, there are a lot of young people who think it’s all about drag make up and women’s clothes, but I think for a drag queen or drag artist – who has been doing it for a better part of their lives – it’s about performance. Drag and making up that face is a tool, creating whatever will fix you. This fix and freedom could be lip-syncing a Beyoncé video or interviewing people at a Trump rally.
Let’s put it like this, it’s more about giving no fucks, the same way as a drag performer, drag artist – be ready to turn it on, but be ready to play the role in front of your peers – and DO NOT OBSESS over nos!
Get strong at handling rejection, it’s a simple fact in an acting career that you are going to be compared and knocked back, so don’t see that as you being wrong or not ‘original’ enough – see it as a fact of the situation and a good one for you to be canny with, and to work out how to play the game well.
Coming back round to: the more you know who you are the better. Just stick to it and do it because it’s what you love doing. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking – pay attention to feedback without giving too many fucks about what happens as long as you enjoy doing it…. Keeping at it, listening, reading the situation – knock backs and comparisons are part of life.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a perfect example of this. You'll hear ‘there’s the new Bianca’, ‘the new Bob The Drag Queen’, ‘that’s the new Courtney Act!’ Or think how many times you’ve heard the classic ‘Oh it’s very David Bowie’… People always want to compare and contrast based on their experience, their interests and their world. The more you hone your craft and your awareness of your world, the more original you will be.
Courtney Act x