1) Be prepared. Actors often are taught (and believe) that “preparation” is the thing
that we should be doing to get ourselves ready for the role. Well, yes, there’s that.
But that’s just sort of obvious to me. Learn your lines, know what you’re talking
about, understand the scene, make choices, then go for sh*t!
But the most important kind of preparation is preparing for everything that you
wanted to prepare for that no longer applies. In other words prepare for the
unexpected. Because that’s the real art very few people teach and is also what
happens in the real world of filmmaking: You only get one take to do the scene you
were thinking in your head you were going to crush. You’re “prepared” to do your
close-up and it starts to rain. The monologue you were ready to slay just got cut.
Completely. Your co-stars don’t know their lines, so the scene now becomes about
surviving it so that you can at least get one take without mess-ups. The focus-puller
can’t focus, so you have to do 15 takes. The noise of the nearby subway is so loud it
disrupts every take, so you have to move locations.
Preparation is being open to where life and its moments take us. Not what we
thought something should sound like on the page or in our heads.
2) Who are you? I had a student at our London studio ask this about herself, “Who
am I?” It’s perhaps the most important question you can ask. If you don’t know who
you are then how can you make art? Art requires a very personal point-of- view. And
often, a life-or- death commitment to tell a story, or fight for a cause, or overcoming
huge obstacles to share your work with the world. Without knowing who you are,
what you stand for, what you believe in and what you wish to say through your
personal self-expression, you become a spectator of your own life. Unseen.
Unspecific. Don’t worry so much if you haven’t figured it out yet. Or that your
opinions and passions might be wrong. Have them anyway. By exercising your
viewpoints about things, you start to move forward in the world, articulating a more
present, passionate, articulate and capable you. And with more you, comes so many
more powerful things, including your art.
3) Get out of LA. Or NYC. Or London. Or wherever you live. Take a trip. Change it up.
Get out of your routine. Science has shown the benefits of travel. Not only do you get
to eat fresh baguettes daily while in Paris, but you also change the wiring in your
brain. When we visit other locales, we see the world from a different perspective.
Namely, that of possibility. We become curious, excited, and open. That has a direct
correlation to the neurological wiring in your brain that creates new neural
pathways and allows you to see your life (and its challenges) from a new viewpoint.
Sometimes actors are scared to take a vacation because they say, “What will happen
if I miss a job while I’m away?” The benefits of going away for a weekend far
outweigh your sitting at home waiting for your phone to ring. So be brave and go
someplace new and see how it actually assists you in points 1 and 2 above. And you
might end up also falling in love and moving to a whole new city.