A Quest For The Actor: Emotional Triggers

Hello from Actor Playbook!

As actors our artistry is found in breathing life into someone birthed by story. Taking them from the page to existing through our emotional and physical being.

So let’s talk about emotion. Specifically emotional triggers. With each role you are preparing you need to know which emotions you need and how to effectively access them so you feel them in the moment.

To begin your emotional triggering preparation start with what you already know about yourself and your own experiences. What emotions are most familiar to you? Joy, ennui, grief, excitement, ecstasy, etc. Some emotions you know much better than others. Some you have seen others feel and have yet to experience yourself. Some you can simply imagine and some you avoid. We all have those, but as actors we become stronger in our craft when we allow ourselves to feel, to be vulnerable and access every emotion we possible can however difficult it may be.

Ready to work on your craft today?


Identify your triggers for one specific emotion. For example, sadness. Now my first challenge to you is to get up close and personal with detail. When was the last time you felt sadness? Write it down. How about the first time you remember feeling it? Write it down. Begin to list places, people, smells, sounds, colors, voices, tastes, etc and develop this list of worldly experiences and things that trigger sadness for you. Now, this work is only for the brave. It can be difficult but is essential.


Begin to then break down your list and examples of these sadness triggers into categories. Do you recognize that your feelings of sadness are not experienced the same way? Each emotion we have is complex in that there are varying degrees, levels and types for each specific one. For example, I will share with you one of my levels of sadness that I have worked on which I describe as a beautiful sadness. One of my triggers is the story The Giving Tree. It brings me to tears every single time because I find such beauty in the hope, the love and the pride of the tree and her devotion to the boy combined with him taking from her, leaving her and yet always returning to her. This is extremely valuable to know as an actor. I now know if I find a parallel moment in a role where my character feels this emotion I have my trigger. I’ll prepare before my scene and read that book. If I need tears before a scene I will think of that book or read it again. I demonstrate this trigger and the emotion it evokes for me in a video in the Actor Playbook facebook group. If you aren’t already a member go check it out!


Click here to download the template for your first emotional trigger page in your own actor playbook! Take time today to feed your passion and focus on your craft. If you have any questions you can message me through the main site or become a member of the actor playbook group on Facebook and add a question or comment there.

Watch for another upcoming article with more tips and resources to add to your actor playbook!

Interested in working with me directly?  Check out my coaching page for more information.

Do your art. Live your dreams.


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