What’s My Motivation?

One of the first things you learn as an actor is to always question your character’s motivation. Why did she say that line? Why did he change his mind halfway through dialling that number? Why did she walk in wearing only a towel? (Fun Fact: that last question is from personal experience!)

199063_5105071052_5532_n
A grainy still from the hysterically fun play Footlight Frenzy. That’s me sitting on the piano bench. Wearing a towel. 

It’s so ingrained in theatre culture that it’s become a bit of a punchline. “Yes, but what’s my motivation?” we cheekily ask when the director tells us to do something.

2168_52434161052_2102_n
Me and a bunch of other theatre majors in our natural habitat: sitting in a pile under a Moulin Rouge poster, sporting tiaras.

I was doing background for a made-for-TV movie (that shall remain nameless) when the movie’s star (who shall also remain nameless) got in a bit of an argument with the director over his character’s motivation in a particular scene. Whoa! Character motivation: it’s what’s on everyone’s mind!

This has been a very handy tool in my writing, as well. Whenever a scene isn’t working or the dialogue isn’t ringing true, I go back to that question: what’s the character’s motivation?

Being an actor/writer has mutated me. Questioning motivation is now in my DNA. I think about it when I’m having conversations with family members; I’m thinking about it as I’m making big life decisions. If I’ve inadvertently put my foot in my mouth and made someone angry, I rewind the mental tape for my motivation. If I’m upset about something that happened, I relive the event in question to see if my own intentions were askew.

Though, if we’re being totally honest here, at least 50% of the time my motivation is purely: to get attention. I’m an #Artist4Life, after all.

14364809_10153802865306053_2948869107204325884_n
Exhibit A: Guess why I’m on stage at a karaoke bar? That’s right. TO GET ATTENTION.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s