By Omoye Uzamere
The ugly face is typically one where an actor’s facial muscles are relaxed and the features we usually keep under control are untamed – eyes, mouth, forehead, lips, eyebrows, nose… It might also be your posture or stance, but the basic idea is that the actor is no longer in control and has allowed the character he/she is playing to inhabit his/her body.
As an actor, I’m constantly trying to control certain parts of my own body. More precisely, there are things about my physicality that I always try to correct – as a person. I call it self-grooming.
On the other hand, I have learned to master these seeming imperfections or insecurities to suit my craft; how to use the pout and when not to, when to arch my back and when to drop my C-legs (don’t ask!!)… It works wonderfully for the camera or stage and adds to my versatility. Like I always say, anything that you are, anything that has happened to you – use it.
Still, there is one small snag. The irony is that being aware of these little things, though a good thing, can be a big distraction. The risk is that we get so conscious of what our face and body are doing that we forget what our heart should be feeling.
Once in a while, an actor will get the opportunity to play a role that is a direct opposite to our beauty goals, a character that allows us the freedom to be unbothered and unaware of how lovely we look, or maybe even revel in the fact that we don’t look like much – our ‘mission, should we choose to accept it’. What will you do when that opportunity comes? (Yes, it is an opportunity)
You take it with open arms because 1) there aren’t many of those roles lying in an aluminum tray, balanced on a head, with steady feet prancing around the streets and calling out to patrons “your sweet role here!” and 2) it is a chance to grow by experiencing a new reality and 3) it might be liberating and fulfilling.
It is liberating for an actor to not bother about looking perfect, but it is a threshold that our vanity and sense of beauty has to cross; a journey that we must take, willingly or unwillingly.
What happens to you when there is no makeup or concealer, eyeliner or mascara? What happens when the makeup and costumes are curated specially to de-beautify? How we feel in that case will be a reflection of how much we’ve relinquished our personal vanity and sense of beauty, which, by the way is a perfectly good thing to have. A person is a sum of his parts: the good, the bad and the ugly. We attain a new level of confidence when we embrace our “ugliness” with the same arms we encourage our “beauty”.
That confidence comes with a Freedom. Suddenly, we can forget our good side and focus on being the character. We are happy to transform into another person, to accept that individual’s own idiosyncrasies, mannerisms, nuances and oddities. We are happy to speak like them, look like them and go through their experiences – the way they would do it.
That is when we become Genuine. Believable. Truthful… because we have crossed the threshold… and that is Beautiful.
Once in a while, an actor will get the opportunity to play a role that is a direct opposite to our beauty goals… Seize it!
Read also: #ActingOutLife: My Great Big Worcation
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