Compete with yourself, not with others

“We tend to compare ourselves to other actors but that’s not fair to us. So try to stay away from that. Don’t compare yourself to other actors because you are competing with yourself. Because there’s this saying we always use in theater: ‘We’re only as good as our last performance.’ So it’s always us that we have to watch over.”

Award-winning theater and film actress Dolly de Leon shared this to the participants of the workshop Auditioning for a Role and Landing It.

De Leon. Photo by Jacelle Isha B. Bonus, UPDIO

The workshop was the launching activity of the newly-established Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (DUP) Studio.

At the workshop, De Leon shared the steps she goes through for auditions, her experiences, and the ups and downs of participating in auditions.

“You’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, gagawin ko iyan sa harap ng maraming tao. And then you’re going to do it. And then at the end, you didn’t get the part.’ So that’s the reality of an audition,” De Leon said. “They’re not easy. Why? You go to a place that is empty with a bunch of directors or casting directors. And you’re made to perform in a space that is not what’s written in the script. So you have to use imagination. You have to imagine yourself in that space. And actually believe that what is happening in the scene is happening in your reality,” she added.

As a fan of American award-winning actor Bryan Cranston, De Leon showed a video clip of Cranston giving an inspirational talk.

In the clip, Cranston said, “About 18 years ago, I had this cognition that I realized I was going into auditions trying to get a job and that simply wasn’t. It wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. An actor is supposed to create a compelling, interesting character that serves the text. You present it in the environment where your audition happens. And then you walk away, that’s it. Everything else is out of your control so don’t even think about it. Don’t focus on that. You’re not going there to get a job.”

De Leon (standing) and the workshop participants. Photo by Jacelle Isha B. Bonus, UPDIO

In closing, De Leon reminded the workshop participants that it is about telling the story.

“Remember, we are there to serve the story. It’s not about us. It’s not about us looking good. It’s not about us performing well. It’s about us telling this story and being faithful to the character that we’re playing,” she said.

De Leon is an alumna of the pioneering batch of the Certificate in Theatre Arts program of the UP Diliman Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. She gained international acclaim for her role in the Palme d’Or-winning Triangle of Sadness where she won the Guldbagge Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She also won the Cinemalaya 2023 Best Supporting Actress for the film Iti Mapupukaw. In June 2023, De Leon was invited to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which presents the annual Academy Awards or Oscars. Her recent film is the box-office hit A Very Good Girl with Kathryn Bernardo.

Meanwhile, DUP Artistic Director Issa Manalo Lopez said, “Sana marami pang sessions na ganito—iyong makabubuo ng bagong kaalaman hindi sa top-down na paraan pero iyong matututo tayo sa isa’t isa.” She added, “Kaya sinimulan ang initiative na ito ng DUP kasi gusto rin naming buksan ang pag-unawa sa kung paano tayo magkakaroon ng mas malalim na kaalaman sa pagbubuo natin bilang Pilipino, kung paano nga bang umarte, paano nga ba sa teatro, paano nga ba sa pelikula at iba pang creative industries.”

The three-hour workshop and launching of the DUP Studio were held at the Ignacio B. Gimenez–KAL Theater on Nov. 25.

According to the DUP’s Facebook page, the DUP Studio “aims to create a space for deep and genuine connections that empower performance makers to contextualize and respond to the current issues and trends in theatre and performance studies and the call for safe and sustainable performance practices.”

De Leon and the workshop participants and audience. Photo by Jacelle Isha B. Bonus, UPDIO