Actors, You Don’t Have to Do it All Yourself

Actors.

Give yourself a break. Just for once. What if you tried that?

No one does it all by themselves. Ever. It’s bullshit to think that you have to. It’s fiction. Let that myth go.

Why is it in this profession actors get scared thinking that if they can’t produce something on their own (meaning, get to someplace emotionally or be fully free in a feeling way), they must be untalented? Or incapable? Or lack what “the greats” possessed? Or are going to get fired?

No one does anything on their own.

President Obama has advisors. Golfers have caddies. Racecar drivers have a pit crew. Gymnasts have a coach. Circus performers have clowns (!) and a ringleader and a man who swallows swords for goodness sakes. So, why do you think you have to always be perfect on a take? Or in your work? Or in auditioning? Or in your process?

Actors often ask tearfully, “But why can’t I get there on my own?”

First off – light bulb! – you are getting there on your own. (But with help from others!) Yes, someone (a teacher, director, casting director, friend, mentor, coach) may facilitate that emotional expression or breakthrough but it’s you who’s doing it. It’s not someone in outer space doing it for you. Pulling your strings. You’re doing it! You, in your expression, bring all of you to this ineffable, magical, strange, wonderful moment and you go for it. You trust your instinct, get physical, let out a scream, break into tears, live in the rawness of life itself, fully commit, release into your bad-ass.

You did it. It doesn’t matter that someone was urging you on, “You can do it! You can do it!”

Quite frankly, that is their job.

To achieve a breakthrough and get anywhere we want to go emotionally in our work – ultimately, you’re never going it alone. Even if you feel no one is helping you – just by being an actor you already have implicit help. You have a story and a director and a co-star and circumstances and a set and words and stage directions and a narrative. You have props and costumes and craft services!

Sometimes I get asked that question in class. It happened this week when I was teaching at our London Studio. “Why can’t I get there myself?” The actress just needed a tiny bit of tweaking on a hugely volatile emotional scene (it was about her own death, no less!) and she just went for it. I mean went for it! So much so, I thought I was witnessing her dealing with her own mortality. (Which at a meta level she was – and all of us are.) Scary, raw, vulnerable, terrifying and beautifully human.

“Getting there” on her own also means the actor has to be willing to go there. You have to be open and brave and surrendered. You have to be willing to receive and let go. When the actor is just that – willing – then you get there. And someone often takes you through that door. That’s why it’s a collaborative art form. And that’s also why you are in class working on yourself, evolving, developing, growing as a person and an artist and creating a deeper emotional understanding of who you are and what you’re capable of.

If you’re doing that, rest assured, you are getting there on your own! With, of course, just a little help from some friends.

And isn’t that good to know?


What Every (Wo)Man Needs to Know

What mask do you live in that you’ve outgrown? There are hundreds. The ditz, the brainiac, the dumb-ass, the bitch, the too-cool- for-school, the douche, the weirdo, the sex-pot, the serial apologizer, the victim, the comic relief.

We all know them. And can identify. And they all keep us from stepping into the real people we wish to be.

The masks we adopt serve a function. Without wearing them we’d probably not have survived our early childhood developmental phase. In fact, that’s where they’re generally adopted. We assume a false identity – become someone we’re not – in order to be liked, popular, accepted, embraced and basically become part of the tribe. It’s what most people experience in one form or another throughout their lives.

The powerful documentary, The Mask You Live In, exposes the many masks that young boys (in particular) adopt in order to be accepted as “men” in our society.

But there’s two problems with wearing masks.

1) Those masks aren’t real.

Men are emotionally marginalized in our society because we learn at a very early age to not feel. We’re taught that certain kinds of feelings are desired (and desirable for men to express) and anything else – vulnerability, intimacy, emotional bonding – is associated with weakness and therefore the domain of girls, the feminine or being (gasp!) gay. No young boy wants to have his vulnerability used against him. To be labeled something he isn’t. So instead of talking about our pain and sharing it, we’re taught to externalize it and take it out (generally through aggression) on someone else.

So at a very young age, this is how children are taught to (not) feel. And we spend a lifetime trying to reverse the terribly damaging ramifications.

Young boys (and girls) are taught lies about what maleness (and femaleness – based on male-dominated societies) look like. And they are always exaggerations. So we live in a culture of hyper-masculinity and hyper-femininity without realizing our true selves are being co-opted. The actual expressions of real shared feeling isn’t a gender issue; it’s biology, psychology, spirituality and ultimately just being human. At our core we all feel. The same.

So gender roles and behaviors are social constructs that lead to devastating results. No one wants to be ostracized. Even as adults – the real desire for each of us is to be seen and heard for who we are and what we can contribute. When we live in a culture that shapes false-identities, is it any wonder that we’re all running around judging other people who don’t sound like us or look like us or feel like us? And a major disconnect occurs between what we want to actually feel – and express – and what we’ve been told we can feel and express. So we often start hating in others that thing we hate in ourselves, because we’ve been shamed for having it.

In my work with actors over the last 20 years, I’ve discovered that the same research gleaned by social scientists, psychologists and academics – are those we get to the heart of very quickly at our acting studios. It’s simply a laboratory where people overcome their emotional blocks and resistance to all kinds of deep feeling – which is what holds us back as fully-realized beings. That’s the work for each of us. In – or out – of an acting class.

2) Like all masks – you outgrow them.

And this is where it gets really scary. Again, I’ve discovered that each of us is trying to constantly step into this newly realized part of ourselves – our real self – who has often been hidden from us for years. The challenge is to let go of these false selves and really allow ourselves to be seen – emotionally naked and without hiding, defending, or rationalizing – which is one of the scariest transitions ever. And because we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time being something we’re not – when we let go of that comfort of that recognizable persona, it’s petrifying to step into something that hasn’t been fully actualized yet.

It’s like swimming with tiny, non-man- eating baby sharks your whole life and then suddenly being thrown into great white shark-infested waters. With no cage.

Terrifying.

To step into the real you is not unsafe, however. It’s really the journey (if you are awake enough) to realize in this lifetime. And that is a huge gift of awareness to know that you can be so much more impactful by simply being you. Without the mask. That your best self isn’t about hiding the parts you’ve been ashamed of or feel like there’s something wrecked inside you for feeling. It’s the contrary. Feeling, sharing, getting honest, allowing other people to see you for all your humanity – is so much more empowering than any false archetype or model of being you’ve adopted.

So let’s all take off our masks. And you might discover, for the first time, you can actually breathe freely. The way we were all intended to be.


The #1 Thing Actors (and Human Beings) Forget

We’re not doing any of it.

Well sure we’re experiencing it. It’s coming out of our mouths. It’s expressed through our bodies. We feel it.

But what is it? And who are you?

If you don’t know the answer to the first question, I’m not sure you can ever fully know the second (which is maybe one of the most important things to figure out on our journeys here). Sometimes people don’t even bother going deeper to find out.

It’s understandable in a way. We are so deeply identified with our physical-ness, how we look, who we tell ourselves we are, where we came from, and being consumed by our likes and dislikes and opinions and fears and hates that build our lives – that we almost completely delude ourselves into thinking that’s all there is.

If that’s all there is, what happens when those things are taken away from you? Or are challenged? Or fall apart? Or change? Or prove to no longer sustain you? Or are disproven?

You’re sort of fucked.

But you then simultaneously become liberated (if you’re willing to search) because you realize without some sort of understanding of self (other than the self you constantly identify with) – life is very treacherous.

What creates music, art, poetry? How is love expressed? Where does compassion or empathy or hope dwell? If it’s in a person – for sure – these qualities are expressed somehow by us and through us – but are they not also impossible to locate, as they are also ephemeral, mystical experiences that happen to us?

A song comes pouring out of us. We can’t say that we made that. I mean, where does inspiration like that come from? If you think about the word inspiration – which means to be in spirit – then somehow, the exalted experiences we’re all after in life having nothing to do with us after all.

They have more to do with how well we can get ourselves out of the way to have more and more experiences of the transcendental here-and- now. If our heart is opened, there is space for these things to enter. Openness means welcome. Openness means to be filled.

Closed means no occupancy. No room. No space. For anything.

Divine. Maybe that’s too strong a word. Energy. Creativity. Impulse. Intuition. Life force. Love. Purpose. Source. Whatever you want to call it, to be in its flow – in its embrace – is to be fully identified as a human being and a spiritual conductor.

To conduct is to direct and orchestrate. Facilitate. Enhance.

But have we ever considered what our lives might be like if we allowed something else to do the orchestrations? Some other energy to move us in the direction of where we truly need to go? I mean, it’s happening regardless of whether we’re conscious of it or not – as there are always signs and maps for us all along the way. We most often ignore them in favor of controlling our own way, our own agenda.

Womp. Womp.

It’s interesting that no other animal species creates such turmoil, havoc or suffering in their life like that of humans. We just have this uncanny ability to mess with the Chi. Fuck up the flow. Stop the energy. Close the door. Shut out the source.

And that’s why art is maybe still a sacred place where we do that less. Oh . . . we still do it. And boy do we do it! Ugh. We overthink things. We shut down. We judge. We compare. We hold ourselves back. But, we often have more moments of pure joy, freedom, and letting go of the reins in our work than we allow in our day-to- day life. We channel.

This is another reason why art is so important. It keeps us grounded and connected to that life force that is alive inside us and all around us and in everyone and all things and at our disposal if we would only surrender just enough to let it in and do it’s magic. Art does that. We allow that to happen in our art when we become conscious of what that is.

But you aren’t doing it. You aren’t making the magic. And that’s the thing about magic. It’s the illusion that it’s something else that makes it magical. And real magicians know that.

 

 

Actors in video: Hunter Cross and Frances Roper


How Guys and Girls Deal with Feeling Differently

Acting asks us to do things that we avoid in life.

You know, like feel.

Emote. Get angry. Lose our shit. Live in desperateness. Be vulnerable. Do awkward things. Be physical. Trust our instinct. Live privately publicly. Be seen with our imperfections. Stay in conflict.

But it’s hard to call upon and then live in those deep expressions of being human in our work when A) we run away from them in life and B) our natural tendency is to avoid conflict and seek stasis.

Simply, in life when it comes to big conflict, our fight or flight response kicks in.

Generally we run away, shut down, deny, brace for impact, pretend nothing’s happening at all, or get passive-aggressive.

But those options aren’t really what makes for authentic, dynamic, voluminous, free storytelling when it comes to acting.

So life makes us not want to feel and acting is asking us to feel fully. WTF! It’s some major contradictory cosmic joke being played on artists.

But this is why we study. And practice. And attempt and try things. And experience.

This is why we build awareness and expand our consciousness. This is why we become empaths and stop judging (ourselves and others). And as we start to change our relationship to our feelings we are able to more effortlessly feel them and share them. In life and in our work.

It’s not a gender problem. It’s a human being problem. But since men and women both process and express feelings differently, and as feeling becomes more complex (and often more painful) both genders have ways to control and shut down. The goal is to let go of that which needs to be released in order to energetically give rise to story.

Sometimes, I’ve found it’s about allowing ourselves to be more like the other in our work. Basically it’s finding your spirit animal in the other sex! For men, it’s often allowing themselves to be more sensitive, to give themselves permission to feel things that culturally they don’t often allow themselves to feel. Vulnerability.

For women, it’s about getting into the unapologetic part of themselves. To stop saying, “Sorry!” for simply existing and to actually get more into their (manly) ownership of things. It’s okay to be strong.

From a scientific standpoint, we are both. We are all both masculine and feminine energy. We are all Yin and Yang. We’re really just a bunch of sex cells that are genderless until fertilization. We’re all potential.

So let us all allow our heroes to be both men and women. Seeing the qualities in others, regardless of gender, that inspire us to be better human beings. Not because we ascribe them as male or female, but instead as brave, honest, real, compassionate, strong, genuine and electric.

Universal.


Why Every Member of Congress Should Take an Acting Class

As we continue to process the shootings in Orlando, I want to share a few points about how we collectively allow ourselves to feel – and heal – through such a national tragedy.

I simply cannot iterate how extremely difficult, scary, vulnerable, empowering and healing that is.

A thorough examination of self in front of other human beings allows oneself to drop the “act” or persona we’ve been playing for years. (Or maybe it’s playing us without us even realizing it as we’re mostly on unconscious autopilot).

Where do we feel? How do we heal? Why do we segregate? Us vs. Them. To make ourselves feel better about our fears of someone who seems different and yet science says (through the Human Genome Project) that (on average) we share 99.5% of the same DNA sequence of all other human beings.

How do we make conscious choices about actively sharing love in the world? That’s not Pollyanna. That’s empowerment. That’s not New Age “woo-woo”, that’s philosophy.

How do we decrease our footprint of prejudicial exclusion and expand our circle of inclusion?

I’m not different than you because of whom I love. I’m not different from you because I meditate, but you pray. I’m not exotic because I come from a country you’ve never heard of.

’Merika isn’t the Universe. It’s a tiny label we’ve given our home that exists in a solar system with billions of other such homes we’ve never even heard of. That’s ultimately how small and insignificant we are.

We’re human. We get scared. We feel separate. Our reinforcing any belief system that pits us against anyone else only reinforces the illusion of separatism and allows us to marginalize others.

The narratives have to change.

Here’s what our policy makers will learn in an acting class:

We always have a choice. When dealing with tragedy, challenges, personal setbacks, and the unexplainable – we always have a choice in how to respond. Perhaps before reacting (from a memorized script we’ve heard thousands of times before), we each take a breath and ask ourselves, “Is what I’m about to say going to leave the person I am speaking to more uplifted, inspired or hopeful? If not, maybe I could choose not to say it.” What if we sat instead with our feelings rather than reacted? But we have very few spaces to do that nowadays. We live in a culture that demands answers to things immediately. And yet, the natural process of life ultimately takes much longer than the 3-second sound bites we’ve become accustomed to ingesting for things to often reveal themselves.

If you’re an empath – and I hope you are – the things that happen to other people out there also collectively happen to you. There is no me or them. It’s us. It’s consciousness. It’s connection. If you can’t sit with that, at the very least, it’s called compassion. Anyone I can marginalize so that I feel like I’m in control is not empathy. Taking an acting class will wrestle control from your ideas, plans and hands and prostate you at the feet of humbleness realizing we have no control. So trying to create false versions of it are futile.

Feeling is the only way we get liberated from the imprisonment not feeling brings. Interesting paradox; feeling is the expression of our life force, but burying feeling destroys lives. Everyone’s addicted to something. Yes, you are! Cigarettes. Drinking. Shopping. Gossip. Our phones. Porn. Negativity. Facebook. Scrolling Instagram pics. TV. Drugs. Unhappiness. Complaining. If you can admit you are, you’re halfway home. If you can see what the addiction is, you then can probably identify what you feel that drives the addiction into place. Loneliness. Shame. Anxiety. Separation. Depression. Futility. Existential Angst. Fear. In extreme cases, our aversion to going deep into our feeling is what leads to violent explosions of all kinds. If you want to heal, you have to feel.

James Baldwin said, “All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” Catharsis (from the Greek) is the process of purifying or healing through feeling. The expression of it, the release into it, the sharing of it creates renewal, redemption, restoration and ultimately, a life of meaning.

So Congress how about it? Instead of talking, talking, talking about things . . . why don’t you feel them instead?


You Are A Storyteller

In light of the tragedy that occurred in Orlando over the weekend, I thought it would be best to remember the lives lost by celebrating our lives that we still get to live.

And as great as it is being an actor – the best story you’re ever going to tell is your own life story.

Your story.

To become mindful of the stories we wish to weave of our precious lives is purposeful. It’s powerful. It’s impactful. It’s the reason we’re here.

If you then, are the storyteller, how could you ever get it wrong? You’re not only telling other people’s stories through the various prisms of who you are, it’s the way you uniquely do it. No one else can do it your way. That in of itself is significant.

What if we started approaching our lives and our auditioning and our acting in terms less as “acting” and end-results but rather more in telling the stories we wish to tell, and how we want to tell them.

Why are we obsessed with telling other people’s stories? Partly I think this is because we think our stories are meaningless and people won’t be interested in them. That they’re boring or f**ked up or too disturbing or that other people won’t relate.

If it’s personal, which it is, and it’s universal – which all stories are – people will relate.

The truth is your story is connected to my story is connected to her story is interlaced with all the stories we’ve ever been told since storytelling began. Our stories are shaped by the stories we believe. They’re stories we don’t want to believe. They are stories other people tell. They’re interwoven with all the heartache and love and passion and joy that’s come from so many before us. They’re also stories other people tell about us – which we give far too much attention to and lose our own narrative.

In his amazing documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Warner Herzog examines the Chauvet Caves in Southern France which contain the oldest (recorded) human- painted images ever discovered some 32,000 years ago. It seems there was some major art (!) going on in the Upper Paleolithic era.

Human beings were doing then what we are all doing now. They were telling stories of survival and nature and love and being part of a tribe called humanity.

People were telling stories long before they were describing themselves as “actors” or “artists” or “poets.” They were just expressing. Without a label. It’s just what people did. It’s how culture began. And I would go so far as to say it’s what keeps the human narrative alive.

In the face of tragedy, in the face of opposition or bigotry or prejudice, all the more important to understand that your story matters. That to silence your own story would not only be a personal travesty, but it would also be something the world would never hear.

So remember that. And celebrate your story. Especially to honor those people who no longer can.


How to Break into Hollywood (and Remain Happy)

They sometimes seem to be at odds with one another, don’t they?

So let’s look at two facts that will keep you on course even when you feel like you’re anything but.

1) What keeps us unhappy? The belief that there is something currently missing in your life – that you need – in order to be happy. We get what we want in life and then ask ourselves, “Is this it?” Or we get the dream job (or lover or house or vacation) and then wonder, “What’s next?” Or we get what we’ve been wanting for so long and then realize maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

The nature of desire has us constantly desiring (but can also wreak havoc by leaving us constantly unsatisfied). This can be healthy if it propels us into searching for more meaning or meeting our challenges or working on ourselves. It can also be damaging and, ultimately, a futile and neurotic pursuit if we constantly push our happiness down the road to some future event. It won’t come that way.

Well, for sure, the event may come. But the happiness we were expecting along with it doesn’t.

Happiness simply doesn’t abide in an event, person, thing, job, money, cars, fame, success, location, or title. It’s not out there. It’s not outside of us. It’s an inside job. It’s a choice. It’s an expression of our being. It’s our essence. It’s who we already are. Complete and whole without needing anyone or anything else to make us feel good.

The way into a happy life is to change these stubborn paradigms that support our incorrect belief that we will be “happy when….” Everything you will ever need is inside you right now. Your job is to go there first, and then everything else is just icing on the cake.

2) That there is any way into Hollywood. There is no way in. There’s only your way.

Comedian Aziz Ansari says, “You have to make your own way. No one would have given me a show like Master of None. It definitely would have gone to some white guy.”

We are constantly inundated with formulas, steps, plans, rules, stories, “secrets”, and tools we are told we must have to be pretty, successful, rich, happy, famous and liked.

Do you know what the secret is? Be yourself.

First off, what else do you have? If you can’t trust that who you are is unique and interesting and has something to contribute and give to the world – then what are you actually going to give to the world once you’ve “made it”?

We listen to the “experts” and start believing we have to change who we are before we can get any of the things we want. We also believe that the absolutes that most people throw around, “You can’t do it like that,” “That’s never going to work,” “You’re too fill-in- the-blank,” “That’s impossible,” “That’s not what people are looking for right now,” are the final chapter and must be true, simply because someone says they are.

We live in a world of infinite possibility. Anyone who speaks in absolutes is either A) a terrible scientist or B) not telling you the truth. In the words of the late, great Muhammad Ali, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”


7 Reminders of How to be Awesome

We often don’t think we are. Awesome. Or we vacillate between delusions of grandeur (“I’m king of the world!”) and downright self-annihilation. What if we just set the dial more in the middle? That pretty much all of us – by being here on this planet, walking a walk (whichever one we’re on!) and doing the best we can with what we have right now makes each of us pretty remarkable. If you don’t believe it, remembering these simple facts might help you get there.

1) No one is thinking about you. Especially in this digital age where we’re bombarded with millions of data to process – our brains compute 34 GB of information everyday, apparently. If we’re all being overwhelmed with digital downloads, we’re all constantly moving on to the next sound bite. Good to know. Everyone is just figuring their own shit out most of the time. Period.

2) No one has a free pass. It simply doesn’t matter how pretty or popular or how many millions of followers someone has – everyone has to contend with his or her life through it all. The journey is a journey for each of us. Sometimes, people take detours. But believe me, in the long run, everyone in some way has to reconcile who they are and why they are here and what they are fundamentally doing with their life.

3). The stuff that goes “wrong” in your life isn’t wrong. Good isn’t always good or bad necessarily bad. The transmutation process of converting your suffering, your challenges, your setbacks into something sacred and learning how to sanctify all of it is the process of being alive. Life is not to be devoid of challenges. When we realize that and embrace the crunch – then, and I believe really only then, does our life take on real meaning and purpose. And we discover, it’s all ultimately good in the big scheme of things.

4) Martin Sheen said this working with Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now – “I remember complaining to Francis one day about my confusion about all that was going down. I said to him, ‘I don’t know who this guy [the character] is. Who is this Willard?’ And Francis just looked me square in the eye and said, ‘It’s you. Whoever you are, whatever we’re filming at the time. You are that character.’ ” Mic drop!

5) (Re-read the above quote again.) Then realize, if all we want ever – is more of you – then how could you ever be wrong?

6). Nothing is as it appears. Ever. Don’t get caught up in the way things seem to look. Like an iceberg, 2/3’s of the actual iceberg is under the surface.

7). As Anthony Hopkins’ character says in the film 360, “The fastest, most powerful prayer in the world, my friend, is fuck it.”

Amen.


What You and Beyoncé Have in Common

If all we want is more of you than how could you ever be wrong?

Think about it.

In all your artistic endeavors, what has been asked of you? As a musician, poet, painter, writer, actor, sculptor, designer, novelist, singer – the same has been asked of artists throughout history.

We want more of you in there.

Does this sound familiar? How can you be more honest? Tell us what really happened? What’s your point-of-view about this? This is great but how do you feel about it all? What are you so scared of? Why aren’t you showing us who you are? Go deeper. The real story is what you’re not wanting to tell.

And on it goes. The same theme over and over. More you. Always. In relationships. Art. Creating. To the point sometimes you might want to bang your head up against the wall, because you think you just can’t go any deeper. But then you take a moment and try again. Or you put the novel away for a few months and then revisit it months later with a fresh perspective. Or you hang up your ballet shoes for a couple years and then come back to it with a new passion and insight. Or you digest what your lover says to you and then have an epiphany about where you hold back.

I think Beyoncé’s new music video, Lemonade, demonstrates what we’re talking about here. It can be easy to take the easy way out. And sometimes we do. The over-commercialization of everything gives us a free pass. But she didn’t. She decided to tell us her story as she knows it.

Work that is significant to us – and that which really touches people (and is often controversial because it pushes people’s buttons, hidden fears and prejudices) is when we let our truth out all over the place in our work. It’s personal. Messy. Painful. Cathartic. Ugly. And beautiful.

So do just that. Let all of you hang out in the work. Go to those places you think people can’t take. Or maybe you can’t take it and you use other people as the excuse to hold yourself back. Stop editing yourself and thinking what you have to say has been said before or is uninteresting. If it’s your story and you lived it then it’s going to be interesting. I promise you. And yes, similar stories may have been told again and again, but that’s what makes the universality of you being you and me being me relatable.

It’s all been said and done millions of times before anyway. Except it hasn’t. Because this time it’s through you. You’re the channel. Stop turning it off. Don’t tune into someone’s else’s when yours is more than adequate. Yes, sometimes the reception is so freaking fuzzy and full of static because of fears and doubts and we listen to the naysayers and stop trusting that what we have to contribute is going to be any good. But you have to tune in. To you.

And stop worrying if it’s going to be good. If it’s truthful, it will be good. So just focus on getting more honest.

The more you start doing that you’ll see that life has a way of giving each of us (like Beyoncé ) the opportunity to make our own lemonade out of those lemons.


A New Way to Understand Auditioning (Part 1)

Academy Award nominee, Charlotte Rampling recently said, ‘‘I’ve always, since the beginning, had my antenna out, like, ‘You can’t get me.’ It makes you more interesting when people know they can’t get you.’’

She should know. She’s been in the business for over 45 years, made over 100 films and TV projects and started in the business when she was 17.

Mystery.

Why do we give it all away? Especially to people who don’t deserve it? I did that constantly in my 20s. If you think of sharing yourself as giving away a bag of jelly beans, I’d spill all the beans merely if a guy I liked said “Hi” to me. So much for mystery. How can anyone try to figure you out if you show them everything about you at first encounter?

We live in a world now where everyone is telegraphing everything about themselves all the time. It’s instagrammed, facebooked, snap-chatted and virtually sent around the world in seconds. People know what you eat, what you think, who you date, where you live, what you watch, what you buy and on it goes.

First date is drinks at a bar. Second date is sending nude selfies.

Where’s the mystery in that?

Being human is mysterious. The process of acting is mysterious. Getting to know someone is mysterious.

Just because culturally all the answers to things seem to be spoon-fed to us immediately doesn’t mean that we don’t like the challenge of figuring people out. It’s human nature, because as we do, we are subjectively projecting onto people the stories we want them to live out in our imaginations. They are our fantasies or ideas or prejudices or fears.

It’s subjective. But if you don’t create room for people to do their own personal imprinting on you, they lose interest.

When you go into an audition room, your job is to do your work. Experience how you choose to interpret a role and do it. That’s it. Casting directors may want to get to know you and that’s fine. But there’s a line between sharing and being desperate that they’ll like you. One is based on intrigue and curiosity and the other on obviousness and self-esteem.

Maybe we do that because we don’t trust that we’re enough. Or we need the job as some sort of confirmation to bolster our self-esteem. We doubt that we’re interesting. That we’re bad-ass. People will be intrigued. So instead we push, we show, we demonstrate, we reveal all instead of holding back.

When you watch someone simply being, doing nothing, you’re mesmerized about the person’s story. Who are they? Where do they come from? Why are they here? What are their dreams?

When you see a stranger in a café and your imagination runs wild with stories of who you think this person could be and all he or she is doing is actually sipping a latte . . . is there really anything else to do?

That’s the power we possess. An innate sense of presence that emanates from our being is inherently mysterious. It’s as mysterious as being alive. Let people project onto you as they will. (They’re going to do it anyway!) You just keep working on being. You.

As Ms. Rampling goes on to say, ‘‘Creative expression comes from places we don’t know. When I started out early in films, people said, ‘Oh my gosh, you can do this.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I can.’ I don’t know why, but I knew I could. I can’t explain what it is and how you get there, but it’s not anything to do with the intellect. I wanted to get to the being state of a character. Just watching someone being, living.’’


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