(By Randy Lane) I encourage talent to share stories and life experiences. Vulnerability is a powerful way to connect with the audience. However, if you are a new show or a new character on an established show, be careful about revealing too much too soon.
In the beginning, it’s best to focus on the essence of your character. In my character-definition exercise, I identify the unique characteristics of a person and narrow those down to the three most prominent, endearing qualities, quirks, and flaws.
Years ago, when I did this with emerging radio host Ryan Seacrest, we narrowed his character definition to the superficial, self-deprecating metro-sexual. Once this persona was established with his audience, we added layers and more dimensions to flesh out his character.
An established character sharing sadness over a miscarriage will evoke empathy and compassion from listeners, while a new player telling the same story without a trust relationship could be awkward or uncomfortable for the audience.
Ideas For New Player Character Development
• Begin revealing more about yourself as a new character by using the Theory of the Third. An example of this theory is if two strangers strike up a conversation outside of a sold-out movie, they most likely will talk about the third thing, the movie, rather than talking about themselves. Pick a third thing — a trending or relevant topic — and share your perspective and point of view with the audience.
• If you have not gone through a character-definition exercise, meet with co-workers, friends, and family and ask them to describe you. People tend to only mention the positive. Encourage them to include what they tease you about or your quirks and flaws. Make a list and focus on the three or four that resonate with you.
• Run imaging promos that highlight your character perspective.
• On ensemble shows, the best way to bring out character traits is to look for opportunities to bring them out in each other.
• Tell stories that reinforce your character perspective.
Start as a one-dimensional character to establish who you are essentially. In radio this can take several weeks or a few months, since time-spent-listening is short, and people listen at the same time daily based on their schedule.