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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happiness. (Part I)

The comment on my previous post stirred up my thoughts for this post.  It's important as actors that we achieve balance in all aspects of our lives.  If we focus solely on our careers then our lives are going to seem bleak and least during the years when our careers are 'in development'.

I recently had a career coaching session with Shawn Tolleson, who I think is a very wise woman, and she asked me to journal about what makes me happy.  Not, 'why acting makes me happy', but rather when do I achieve that utmost sense of happiness?  What am I doing when I can't control the smile creeping across my face?

I've somewhat been avoiding this because lately I've been feeling...well, empty.  Emotionless.  As an actress this is terrifying.  If I have no emotions then how can i connect with my characters and give real, believable, gut wrenching performances?

It's not that I'm feeling depressed.  I've been depressed in the past and it's quite horrible, those of you who have gone through it know.  It's not depression I'm feeling, it's a lack of...sparkle.  Pizzazz.  Tingliness.  Giddiness.  Uncontrollable Joy.  Instead I feel like a robot.  I smile when I hear a joke, although I'm not sure why it was funny.  I have to tell myself I'm having a good time, instead of just knowing it.  Sometimes I just don't 'feel' like I think i should.  I don't 'feel' anything.

I'm gonna make this post a two part-er cuz I'm going to pay extra special attention the next couple of days to my 'feelings' and mark down when I believe I'm 'acting happy' and when there's no acting involved at all.  And when I find those moments where it's natural and not robotic, I'm gonna write it down, think about it and capture how happiness feels.

I think back to moments I know I'm truly utterly happy:  One in particular was last Sept.  I had a movie screening in Chicago and managed to track down my besties from high school and get them all to agree to meet me in Chicago, not only for the screening but for a weekend of fun.  Oh My Goodness what an amazing weekend it was.  Even without the screening I would've had the time of my life.  And you know what I think it was?  I was with people who've known me since I was 16 ('s been quite some time), who've taught me to drive my first car, wept with me when my father passed, waved as I drove off to college, talked me through my first (and second) heartbreak, supported every moment of my career without question and love me unconditionally to this day.  I didn't have to prove anything about myself.  I had nothing to be self-conscious about (they've seen me at my worst).  And I didn't have to worry about not being entertaining enough.  I could just be.  Breathe.  Relax.  Smile.  Enjoy.  It was by far the highlight of my 2011 year.

So there in-lies one key to my happiness: Just being me the human being, not me 'the actress'.

*Sigh.  If I could capture that in all that I do, perhaps I can be a bit more, I was gonna say successful, but I change my mind.  It's not about success.  It's about happiness.  That's what I ultimately want to achieve in my lifetime.  Did I live a happy life?  Why yes.  I did.

Stay tuned for part II!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Along with the fear of flying comes the fear of succeeding. I just read a fabulous article that was tweeted by Dallas Travers (if you don't already know her, as an actor you need to!). It was all about tending to give only 95% instead of 100% and therefore being mediocre at everything instead of amazing at something.

This is totally how I live my life. Lately I've been half a**ing my workouts and then wondering why I'm not seeing the results I want or imagine I should be seeing. Well, duh!

Same goes for my acting career. I get auditions and after complaining about never getting auditions I don't prepare until the night before! What is wrong with me? Then, of course I don't get callbacks.

This is a terrible terrible cycle leading to non-success.

I fear that if I become successful I won't know what to do or how to handle it. If I succeed, then what?

Well, fear be gone! I no longer will hold back. I'm going to conquer everything put my mind too and if it doesn't feel like 100% I'm gonna stop being a child and try my hardest.

There. It's out there. There's no going back.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fear of Flying

All of us actors have this internal 'fear of flying'.  No, I'm not talking about the actual process of soaring thousands of feet above ground in a big metal machine that might as well be a bomb.  I'm talking about the fear that as soon as we book a flight out of town, that agent we've been hassling for months will finally call us in for a meeting, or that casting director we've been going to workshops with finally wants us for the perfect role, or there are so many audition notifications piling up in our inbox that we know absolutely that we have just missed our one shot at fame and will now forever be a failure.  Or at least for the next ten years, until our 'big break'.
Ugh.  What a ridiculous fear we actors live with.  It's so ridiculous but it stops many of us from living our lives.  Which is a huge mistake because living our lives is what makes us actors.  Experience, emotions, memories, and moments, that's what we draw from as actors and if we forever remain in the city of Angels, sitting in front of our computers pressing the refresh button in hopes that a new email will pop up that says, "Thanks for your great audition!  We've cast you as the lead!"  Then we will continue to suck.  I mean SUCK as actors.  As artists.
It's a long lived fact that as soon as you book that flight you've been dying to book for your best friends wedding in Italy, you'll get a huge opportunity that seems to fall out of nowhere other than the cloud of irony and into your lap.  What ever should you do? are often refundable if not changeable and yes, maybe you lose a $100 here or there.  But have you not already spent thousands if not millions on your career; headshots, classes, workshops, producing your own shorts, reels, biz cards, coaching sessions, blah blah blah, so what's another $100 to ya for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Now I'm absolutely not suggesting you skip your best friends wedding.  I'm simply suggesting you don't go a week early like planned, but still make it in time to see her walk down the aisle and kiss her prince charming.  Just like in the movies...
Live your life.  It's your only job as an actor.  An artist.
Welcome to the first post in my new blog.  I'm not sure what I'll be writing about but I guarantee it'll be good...thanks for joining me!