Hello world. It’s been a long time since I shared some of my thoughts on acting. So, here we go 🙂
This acting /life lesson all started when my wife and I had the following conversation…
Jessie: “I don’t think it’s good when you get an audition on a Monday.”
Jessie: “Because when you receive your audition notice (which happens on the Friday), your whole weekend is shot. You don’t have fun and you obsess over your audition.”
It went something like that anyway… and she was right! I was having ZERO fun. That was a huge eye opener for me. The whole reason I started acting was because it was fun and I loved it. And now, 13 years later, I got all “serious” about it. I lost the love and the fun and replaced it with expectation and fear. So… I started unpacking (and still am btw) where that fear was coming from. What I found was this…
I kept trying to change myself to be something I thought casting wanted me to be. That was no good. I was acting from an idea. Not from my heart. For example, if a character breakdown called for “tough and sexy”, I would try to figure out what that was. I was looking for external examples like clothing choices and attitude and clever beat changes. hahaha… I can playfully laugh about it now but at the time it was terrible! I would get so worked up at trying to be this “idea” version of me that by the time I got to the audition my heart was going to beat right out of my chest Alien style. Trying to be something that didn’t live organically inside of me was exhausting and stressful. Then the audition would be over. Phew. I would beat myself up for a while for not doing a good audition, and then after a day or two return to my usual self, just to do it all over again for the next audition. Hit repeat, and that was my acting journey.
Sounds like torture right!? No wonder so many actors quit acting! I’m not saying every actor has had the same challenges, but I bet a few can relate!
So, how did I break this cycle? Well, life is always teaching us isn’t it? Someone said to me once, “The the pain goes away once we learn the lesson.“ With that in mind I knew I had the power to find my love and joy for acting again, I just had to keep searching.
A good friend of mine (Alison Araya) had been inviting me to audit her acting class (AMAW Vancouver) for some time, and so I finally pulled the trigger. I knew I needed to try something different, we all know the definition of insanity right? Ironically, what I learned in that class was the very first piece of advice an acting teacher said to me on my very first day of acting school 13 years ago. “Be yourself, you are enough.” You ever notice you can hear the same advice repeatedly, but hear it differently each time? I was in a place in my life where I was finally ready to hear that lesson. With persistence, and a willingness to trust myself I am now “being myself” more than I’ve ever been; both in my acting and in my life.
What I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that nothing is more engaging than being yourself. The more you can reveal yourself in a role, the more engaging you will be.
It’s like when you go to a party and meet a bunch of new people. You can tell the difference between someone who is actually interested in what you have to say, and someone who is not. You know what I’m talking about… the person who is half talking to you whilst looking around the room to see if there is someone more interesting to talk to. Ugh. That feels gross. I don’t like being around fake people and neither do you I imagine. Acting is the same way. We want to watch someone who is willing to let go, trust that the moment will support them and through that honest place the actor says their lines and story is told.
I now teach and take classes at that same acting school (AMAW Vancouver). I am a big advocate of continuing your training, no matter what profession you are in. My wife, for example, who is an amazing bass player is going to be taking some bass lessons soon. Could she get by without the lessons? Of course, but is that what you want for your art form? To just get by? Not me. I want to keep pushing my capabilities. I want to grow both as a human being and as an artist. For me, that means being in class, reading plays and doing stuff that scares me.
By the way, I have an audition on Monday. I’m not going to let it ruin my weekend! I’m going to do the work and then let it all go. I’m going to reveal MYSELF through the character… because really, there is no “character” there is only me 🙂
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!