Ireturned to my acting class from a month off this week, and it made me realize I’ve been holding myself back…
In my post, “The Block,” I talked about the importance of caring. How the key to good acting is through caring deeply, and how we want to watch people care.
Technically, I know what I’m doing. I know where the beats in the scene are. I hit the turns smoothly. I can land a joke. But something is missing….
A deep investment in my characters’ wants and desires.
I think my acting is missing a willingness to let it all go, to care, and to fight for what my characters’ want.
I can deliver the line as I should, but underneath, the wants and desires are barely touching the service. So you’ll watch me, and you’ll think “yeah, that’s not bad.”
But it’s not great either. And not great isn’t going to book me work… there are so many actors in this town. If I want to be successful, my work has to be heard above the noise. And it has to be worth the attention.
I was watching a new girl in my class last night, and I immediately thought, “this girl is going to be successful.” I could just feel it. Her work was beautifully layered. Her character was endearing, then self-loathing, then hopeful, and she graciously shared all this with her audience. She took direction well and was willing to just go for it. Her honestly felt like a real person in a real situation. Combined with her natural charm and essence, she has a long career ahead of her.
And I get to learn from her! I get to watch her work, see what she does, how she responds to feedback, and absorb all she does. There is so much to learn from watching other people perform.
Beginner actors can sometimes be too self-important to realize the value of watching other people. They just want to be in the spotlight, and they’re waiting for their opportunity. And to be fair, a lot of people get into acting because they have a drive to be seen. But so, so much can be learned just by stepping back and watching other people do the work you love.
When I was younger, I would have been more jealous of her and disappointed in myself for not being as talented. Now, seeing someone else rise, makes me want to rise with them. I’m motivated to push myself to her level, rather than desiring her to sink to mine.
And to be honest, I think I know where to start…. but I don’t know how… or maybe don’t want…. to open the floodgates.
So, I mentioned my article that touches on caring?
I’ve realized that I’ve created this huge block in myself. I’ve forced myself to not care, so that I can avoid feeling stressed. Some of my willingness to let it go is a good thing, but the rest of it? Is really not helping me.
I suppose it’s because I’ve had so many things in the past few years that I’ve had to turn a blind eye to.
I found out I have food intolerances and had to stop eating 1/2 the food in my diet, then I found out I have food allergies as well and cut that diet down into a 1/3. It used to be really difficult to cut out a food group, but now, it feels like my body could reject anything and I’d just take it in stride. What’s one more thing to cut out?
As previously discussed in “Energy,” over the past few years, I’ve had constant issues with my energy levels. Constant ups and downs that seem to have no rhyme or reason. No obvious pattern to track and solve.
I work hourly jobs that barely allow me to pay my bills, and I’m constantly hoping someone will see (and pay) me for my real worth. My bosses will admit my value above the rest, but then I’ll only get paid a marginal difference. I need the flexibility to do what I’m here to do, so it’s tough to leave the part-time, hourly market.
With leaving my old job, I know my relationships there will falter. As much as my coworkers have said we’ll remain close, I know it’s not true. We mostly saw each other at work, and people in LA aren’t always great at staying in touch. The distancing of these friendships is hard.
I love my home. So much of my life revolves around my location. Over the past two years, I’ve slowly shifted my whole life to this neighborhood, so I could cut down my driving and support local businesses. My whole life could look different with a move.
My roommate and I have had lots of ups and downs. We’ve been doing way better lately – the whole apartment crisis has pushed us together – but our time together has not been smooth sailing. We’ve both had to make sacrifices for the other, and maybe our relationship has been weighing on me. Maybe it’s tough to live in that energy.
I don’t think I’ll find a partner in LA. I’m someone who’s perpetually independent (there are loads of positives to this, I’ll have to write about it in the future) but I’m secretly a romantic at heart… so never pursuing this part of myself can be taxing.
With all of these things, I’ve taught myself to focus on the positive, so:
— my diet is much healthier now, and my body has lost unnecessary weight
— my issues with energy have focused me to have a great internal awareness most people lack
— I’ve found jobs I enjoy that I’m good at
— I needed to leave my old job to continue to grow, and the real friends I made there will remain my friend
— maybe my living situation wasn’t doing me as much good as I thought, and now the universe is pushing me to find something better for me
— without a partner, I can focus my time and energy on my career
But, perhaps, I’ve also been repressing the true hurt of it all. In order to keep my head held high, I’ve ignored my true feelings.
I won’t allow myself to care in my own life, so how can I care about my characters’ lives?
I’m honestly not sure the balance of letting myself feel all that I’m feeling and not falling into depression. Because the logical side of myself says I do a great job of being aware of all these issues and finding the positive side of them. I turn my eye to the positive, because that’s all I can do in these situations.
But, I think a part of myself is also begging to be set free. A part of myself wants to be heard, and instead of listening, I keep shutting the door in its face.
And until I listen up, my acting will always be lacking.
I suppose the first step is admitting to myself that I have a problem. Then, it’s piece-by-piece breaking down this wall I’ve meticulously sculpted my whole life. I won’t knock it down over night, but I can push myself each day, until it’s nothing but a stone.
And as much as I don’t want to do this, as much as I think I’m doing well today, I know for the sake of my career, the one thing I know I was born to do, I have to change. I have to admit to myself that I care and be willing to share it with myself, so that I can, then, share it with other people.
It’ll be tough, but it’ll be worth it. I want to be great, and I won’t allow myself to settle for less.