Exercising Empathy

The most interesting actors are the actors who are most interested. And their profound and penetrating interest—their curiosity—is the direct creation of empathy. Physically, empathy is right up in your face! It manifests in your mask, that area where humming feels true. It’s intimate. As is the best communication. Our empathic Voice is not just in our language, but in our tone. Our tone, when placed in the mask, says “ooh I feel your pain,” “you are not alone,” “you’re wonderful.” It’s there our empathic Voice is given life. It’s there it is finally expressed.

Empathy and its depth can be exercised and developed as a muscle. And I especially recommend exercising empathy by yourself during time off from jobs and class. Check in with your feelings on why you empathize with someone by vocalizing the “why.” It’s imperative that you get out loud with why you empathize with someone as you’ll get more clarity, and become more curious—about the person and yourself! It’s impossible to disregard someone when you experience their emotions within yourself. When we only look at our side of things, we go through life half-doing things. Empathy makes us whole. And for interesting actors, curiosity about people, and the practicing of this curiosity in vocal terms, is the craft.

David Coury Voice Director at HFAS