Something actors struggle with is the desire to be seen, while simultaneously not wanting to be truly seen.
That means being seen for who we are, not just how we want to present ourselves to the world. That’s scary.
Personas are so easily designed and manipulated on social media sites like Instagram or Facebook these days that it appears everyone is perfection. Their bodies are flawless, therefore their lives must be. They take exotic vacations; they must be happy. They’re always smiling so they must never suffer.
Hello! Haven’t you heard the phrase, “Let’s filter that”?
We talk about openness a lot because it’s the heart of acting. It’s the heart of what it means to be human. To be open is to let go of control. To be open is to be taught. To be open is to realize that beyond our ideas about life, mostly, none of us really know anything truly about it.
That can make us feel uneasy. To know that philosophies and theories are just that. They can get us to places, show us examples of how to be, but ultimately can’t get us to have the experience. That simply comes from . . . well . . . experience.
But to be open isn’t a philosophy. It’s a way of being. And to be open is essential for an actor. You can’t explore different characters if you have judgments about them. How do you explore a sociopath or a murderer? Or maybe even not someone so extreme. Maybe it’s simply someone who’s sexually free or a douchebag. If you’re not open to who these people are at their core ”“ which is just different manifestations of humanity ”“ you deny those qualities within yourself.
That’s not being open.
I know it’s scary. You have to acknowledge that there’s a part of you that’s wild. Unhinged. Out of control. Sometimes to play these characters means getting in touch with those parts of ourselves that we’ve been conditioned to condemn. They’re taboo. They’re societal outcasts. They’re unsafe. We shame them.
We often equate openness with getting hurt. We use our old software that’s been programmed by telling us that we’ve been rejected in the past so to be open is foolish. It leads to further heartbreak and disappointment.
Understand it from a different perspective. Openness means open to it all. It means being okay with our dark, weird, unseen parts we keep hidden. It means being open to not knowing and not caring so much what we might look like and not giving a f*%k. It means trying to be more honest in our interactions with all people. At first where we have judgments, we try to allow ourselves to move past the judgments and see others in ways we never had before.
Being open is your ability to tell someone you’re not open.
P.S. Most of the time we’re practicing these things without even realizing it. We’re so hard on ourselves, and often compare the practice of something with an idea of how we think it’s supposed to look that we forget we’re actually in the practice anyway. Acknowledge that about yourself. That’s openness.