Interview with Angela Bilonogova, Speech and Drama Coach at WePlay!
Interview with Angela Bilonogova, Speech and Drama Coach at WePlay! ⚡⚡⚡ Esports news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!
Hey reader, do you remember that WePlay! Esports is holding an open competition to find talents to join our team? If not, here is the link with all the useful info — read it, and then come back again. We have extended the application deadline until May 31, so you can still get in! While the candidates put in their applications and shake off the rust from their singing and acting talents, we talked to Angela Bilonogova, Speech and Drama Coach at WePlay! Esports. We found out what our talent crew was like at the beginning of the course, where to start on your ascent to the top of esports broadcasting, and got a load of useful tips for developing your creative potential.
Hello! Tell us more about yourself, please. What do you do, and what are your tasks at the company?
Hi, my name is Angela. I have a Drama Theater Director degree from the Kyiv National Theater, Cinema and Television University. I work as a speech and drama coach. At WePlay! Esports, I develop our talents' creative skills: elocution, acting, and stage presence.
What were your first lessons with them like?
Our first meeting was quite tense, as I started by telling them the truth. Before talking to everyone for the very first time, I watched dozens of hours' worth of recordings of the work they did for other companies. I saw how they act, how they look, and I evaluated them. The truth was that the industry as a whole has long demanded significant changes in performance standards for people who work on camera. The quality of the "talents" and how they did their job was highly questionable — speech impediments, poor stage presence, lack of understanding of interaction with a partner, sloppiness and doubtful taste in appearance, weak motivation. And the most annoying thing was their lack of professional ethics! So, the best folks who made it to our team started their path of growth to a new, higher level. And this is exactly what we started doing at our training sessions.
When we first met, some of them were happy, and some were a bit tense. But everyone understood that they would have to do something, change something. The first problem that had to be solved was the lack of discipline. The first classes started with me barring those who arrived late from joining in, even if they were only late by one or two minutes. This helped everyone realize that something serious was about to start, and they needed to act accordingly.
One's development as an actor and a creative unit requires a lot of effort, both mental and physical.
Take the tongue, for instance — it is the strongest muscle in the body, and you literally need to build it up. Same as in a gym: if you want to build up muscle, you have to work out three times a week. And this is exactly what you need for pumping up the voice apparatus — regular self-improvement. Add culture, reading, and appearance to the mix, and you get a set of issues that require constant attention. The class was really surprised that there was homework to be done. Everyone was already an adult, an accomplished individual, and here they were, expected to come home and learn tongue-twisters, write texts, and work on their errors. But they didn't have much choice, so they had to get used to it.
Their progress is evident, even to our untrained eye. And you, what could you say as a specialist?
Each one of our talents has come a really long way. What they did deserves a lot of respect; it wasn't easy at all. Not everyone was able to conquer their laziness, but it is a personal choice. Nevertheless, I believe that each of them has advanced. I can confidently say that they are professionals in their chosen field, and they keep making progress. Being able to outperform your competitors is the only way to go. Only a well-rounded person can be interesting. My biggest point of pride is to see our guys start working with other talents at major tournaments. That's when you see the difference in communication standards and approach. I am telling it exactly like it is — take WePlay! Mad Moon, when Oleksii "yXo" Maletskiy was the host, for instance. Before that, my students and I had many classes on joint (partner) interaction — to make it easier to work in concert, help, and lend each other a hand when needed. I asked Oleksii, "Do some exercises with the invited talents to set the tone for your work." And they couldn't do anything — they just shut down and either didn't get it or didn't want to, or they were just too cool and awesome for that. With speech impediments, a "dead eye" on camera, but yes, they are way too cool to try and do something or care about the overall result. As a result, Oleksii has had to put in a huge chunk of work himself, and in a title that was not his primary one at that.
The main issue for those working at an esports broadcast is that everyone is copying someone, though it is not quite clear who.
Sure, there are bright and charismatic personalities working in the industry, but this has nothing to do with professionalism on camera. Everyone borrows something; everyone wants to be like someone else. This is not the best way to let yourself shine. I customize my approach when working with the guys and gals: we address the issues of each one. My goal is to look at them closely and let the person open up as an individual. Everybody is interesting and unique in their own way, with their own strengths and weaknesses.
What would be the place to start for somebody who has applied to WePlay! Got Talent?
They should follow all the rules. As a talent scout, I should be able to see something, identify something. But if they don't do their homework from the outset, it becomes clear that they have an issue with discipline. Or they may refuse to do something: "I can't sing, I can't dance." The entry may run for 10 minutes, and it may be full of complaints, refusals, or inappropriate requests like: "Take me to WePlay! and straighten my teeth." No one will tackle articulation problems or speech impediments here. Dealing with rhotacism, for instance, requires tremendous effort starting from childhood. But what we get is adults who can't be as flexible as they used to be. They have their own inhibitions, problems, fears.
In other words, the candidates should have in mind that they will have to do everything that is required of them?
I would advise them to be like clay: ready to be molded into anything, as far as creativity goes. When somebody tells me, "I can't," I understand that the person is just not ready. Refuse to tell a joke? Really? For example, one of our talents had such feelings about it. Telling jokes is a focus area in and of itself. We had such a task about a year ago, and when a talent's turn came, he said: "I am not a clown to tell you jokes!" And then a year goes by, a year of hard work that not everyone can handle. I don't want to call names, but someone from the talent team had even asked to be woken up for the class because they couldn't organize themselves. Coming back to the joke, a year later, the same person said to me, "Yes, I was wrong at the time." It's part of the job to be a multi-skilled individual, a performer who can do everything. This is what the self-improvement of such people should be about. As a creative person, you should constantly develop your conversational genre skills, your ear, your dancing, your ability to improvise, and other skills. Hollywood actors are just like that. Our people are either too serious or too stiff. A talent may have a smart suit tailor-made for them and designed with a cool concept in mind, and they put it on and curl up like a hedgehog. None of us should try to coax them: "Please be a performer!" They should be relaxed and open to any creative tasks.
My main message for those who would like to come work with us would be: be yourself, don't be afraid to let yourself shine, don't copy others, read the entry requirements carefully, and show that you DO want to work here. When you have a desire, this inner drive that pushes a person to fulfill their dream — that's what counts.
Any advice on improving one's acting skills?
Ideally, that would be to study at a theater college or find a good coach who will suit your specific needs. Yes, I could share a lot of exercises for diction, logical reading, articulation, breathing right here and now, and there is more on the Internet. But none of this will be productive because when teaching public speaking and acting skills, it should all be controlled and directed by a professional. So, I will say this: you need to know your strengths and weaknesses and work on yourself non-stop. Once again, you should develop your personality to be interesting: read quality books, listen to good music, etc. Striving for perfection in details, a person can become a better version of themselves if they put in the hard work. Hoping that the Internet will solve articulation problems doesn't work miracles. We had people who tried to find some exercises on the Internet, and who then had breathing problems, vocal cord trouble. They did the exercises wrong, and that can strain your voice. I'm always surprised at people who won't do anything to improve in this profession. You should basically learn the number of vowels and consonants in the alphabet. Funny enough, we had this issue — at one of our first classes, we learned the alphabet and did exercises with individual sounds.
Because coaching is more like a relationship between a student and a mentor who digs deep and paves the road for many years to come. Training courses do have a wow factor, but the effect is a fast-lived and superficial one. You get out of there, and you don't remember what it was that they said or what you did. As for us, we really want to nurture a new generation and give the world what is missing in this area — professionals in the true sense of the word.
If you spend your entire life at home, in front of the computer, you will inevitably get into some stressful situations when you go out and interact with the outside world. You can go see a therapist if you do not have the resources to deal with some of your inner barriers.
A person's inner culture is paramount: etiquette, communication with the world, interpersonal skills.
Now that we're talking about fears, how do you overcome stage fright?
Why be afraid of it at all? You don't wander in or get up there by accident, and if you are invited — get ready. One of the key concepts that we are working on with the guys and gals is to enter the ready mode. If you're invited to star in a movie tomorrow, you are ready. If you are invited to host a radio show the day after — you are ready because you are always focused on self-improvement and did not abandon the vocal warm-ups. Working on your psychophysical apparatus requires you to do a deep dive. You can't just go into class, sit there for two hours, and then go out and forget about everything. If people choose this profession, they must perfect themselves, because if they don't, what example will they set for others? There is a good saying about "not sinking down to the viewer's level, but letting the viewer catch up with you."
When I watch a broadcast and see a talent making errors when speaking or behaving unnaturally on camera, it makes me sad. After all, the new generation looks up to them.
Any final guidance for your readers, especially those who participate in the selection process?
Read a lot in the language you intend to speak most often, be it on camera or in your day-to-day life. And read out loud, because otherwise, it won't work. Read clearly; if you could not pronounce something on the first try, read it once again. This will give a good boost to your speech and your vocabulary. Tired of reading? Listen to an audiobook, but find a good speaker whose tone of voice and intonation you like and who knows how to engage the listener. My specific recommendations are:
Believe in yourself!
Set yourself a goal — to pass the audition and get into WePlay!
Be genuinely interested in esports!
Read, understand, and do all the tasks!
Get into a good mood and only proceed with it!
Choose a material that you yourself find interesting and that you want to share with us!
Throw away all your doubts and inhibitions, and do follow all the requirements!
If you didn't like the outcome, try again and send us your best bet!
Have you already sent in an incomplete application? No problem — just do all of the above and resubmit it.
Be ready to fight for your place in the sun!
Good luck! You are the one we are waiting for!
Thank you very much for the dialogue! We are looking forward to seeing the results of the first stage. And we also wish the candidates good luck and a lot of success with self-improvement!