"THE BOSS BLOG"
I won't keep you long but lately circumstances have had me questioning, "HOW AM I GOING TO STAKE MY CLAIM AS AN ACTOR?" How am I going to make such a massive impact in my work and in my life? This is such a vital part to our purposeful journey through the entertainment industry. It makes you really ask on a heart centered level, WHAT IS MY WHY AS A PERFORMER? Once you can answer that and answer it truthfully and thoroughly, nothing can stop you from reaching the top. Actors quit all of the time because the why isn't strong enough. If it doesn't move you through the thickest wall or up the highest mountain, it's time to reassess your actions. I came up with a few analogies that will help you understand the magnitude of staking your claim as an actor or actress.
IS AN AUDITION JUST ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO MEET A CASTING DIRECTOR, OR IS IT POSSIBLY THE LAST TIME YOU COULD POSSIBLY HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE APART OF A MOVIE OR TELEVISION SHOW?. ( Not a lot, but some pressure is what causes diamonds to shine like the sun)
WHEN YOU'RE SUBMITTING HEADSHOTS/RESUME IS IT JUST ANOTHER STATISTIC, OR IS IT ANOTHER GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW YOUR PHENOMENAL INNER LIGHT AND JUMP OFF THE PICTURE OR SCREEN?
WHEN YOU WORK ON SET, ARE YOU MINDFUL OF EACH MOMENT? ABLE TO ENJOY EVERY SECOND, OR ARE YOU LOOKING TOWARDS THE NEXT JOB?
LASTLY, IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU YOU'RE WASTING YOUR TIME, DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO RISE UP PROVE THEM WRONG AND INSPIRE OTHERS WITHIN THE PROCESS?
All of these excerpts are meant to give you an edge that can help you bust through obstacles, use adversity and continue to rise towards purposeful fulfillment through your acting career. I once told an actress that I was coaching, " YOUR CAREER CAN NEVER REACH IT'S HIGHEST POINT IF IT DOESN'T HAVE MEANING OR PURPOSE. THESE ARE THE THINGS THAT HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOUR DREAM IS BIGGER THAN YOU, BUT NOT TOO BIG FOR YOU." She realized why she was doing everything she possibly could to succeed. It was about the thirst to make a difference, the thirst to be expansively creative and the craving to want people around the globe to see her and say, if she did it then I can too. I want to be just like her. With that being said, as you go into the new week and auditions and projects loom, what are you going to do to stake your claim?
The nature of our business is to make people feel good inside as well as inspired. Our acting is an opportunity to show the world that we have something inside of us that is so great and so creative that it can make a difference in anyone's life who is exposed to it. Just thinking about that gets me excited and ready to go jump on someone's set. But, the most important thing to remember is that: WE ARE DOING IT FOR OURSELVES FIRST. You have to be your biggest fan. You have to be the individual who is self loved, self motivated, self accepting and self appreciating. Without that being the case we get into a dangerous spot. A spot that's geared on people pleasing.
I've always felt like as an actor it's a journey to self realization. The reason that I've put it that way is because we are one of the most exposed career paths out there. Not to mention, if you're famous or well-known, the stakes rise even higher. The reason this is the way that it is is because, subconsciously, people put actors on pedestals. If you're put on a pedestal, you have no room to mess up or in this case, let's be honest, be human. Or do we??
Enter: Relinquishing the need to people please! I would like to share something with you that most people might find arrogant or cocky, but it's the truth and it's going to help you focus on your ability to not need approval. To accept it, but not allow it to dictate your life. IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU AS THE ACTOR. WITHOUT YOU THERE IS NO WORLD TO BE CREATED, WITHOUT YOU THERE IS NO ONE TO LOOK UP TO AND WANT TO BE LIKE, WITHOUT YOU THE PROJECT WOULD MAKE NO MONEY, WITHOUT YOU THE PROJECT WOULD NOT HAVE A FACE! I could go on an on about this, but my objective is to inject so much confidence into you as a performer, that it slightly straddles the line of an arrogant swagger. Now, don't walk on set being an ass by any means. Im sure you know that, but it's important to know that because it is all about you as an actor, it's of the utmost importance that YOU BE AS PROFESSIONAL AS POSSIBLE. Take it upon yourself to have people constantly say that they enjoy working with you, but still be your own person.
One of the biggest factors I'm against people pleasing is because it just causes burnout. Half the time, in this industry, people will change their minds about so much that you just have to be ready. If you get so focused on getting a stamp of approval, you will burn out at a rapid pace. I had a friend who was an actor on a half hour sitcom back in the 90's. He was awesome during the time he was fortunate enough to appear. But there's an interesting story about him that went on behind the scenes. I'll let him tell you in his own words.
"I got on this show and wanted to do such a phenomenal job, I stressed myself out and almost missed my opportunity to work on this show. It was obvious that I was a people pleaser. I was surrounded by so many stars and big name producers that I wanted to be accepted by all of them. That extreme attachment to that need for approval nearly fried my ability to be creative. In addition to the format of the half hour show with all the re-writes, I started to doubt myself. It was all too much. I was about ready to walk into the showrunner's office and say that I couldn't do this, when the lead of the show had noticed that I had been off through out the entire process. This guy was a superstar and here he is approaching me and offering help. He said, "I know this format can be a brain spaz, but you just have to relax into it. You don't need approval from anyone. We all know you're good enough, because if you weren't, they wouldn't have cast you. So wipe that sweat off your forehead and get ready to do some blocking." This turned it around for me completely. I went from almost quitting to realizing that once I got over my nerves of winning the opinion of my peers and superiors, I had the most fun on a set that I've ever had. They called me back for a bunch of episodes that season, and it was all due to me giving up my need to be a people pleaser."
Every time we meet up and I hear that story it just inspires me. It also helps me to know that when I focus my energy on the right things, I build the excitement of realizing why I became an actor. The focus should always be on BEING THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF AND THE MOST AUTHENTIC ACTOR POSSIBLE. The rest will take care of itself.
There's an important quality that every actor must develop if they're going to experience a high level of success in the entertainment industry. That quality is self love. I used to ask myself why is self love so significant to me as an actor? The clearest answer came in the form of the ability to deal with rejection after going on numerous auditions without booking a job or even a call back. An experience like this will have the cockiest person doubting themselves at least a little bit. But when we talk about self love and how it truly relates to actors, it becomes a matter of telling the entertainment world how we expect and deserve to be treated. It also reflects what we'll receive from outside of ourselves. You might have heard me say that your inner life reflects your outer life. It's no different when it comes to your career.
My job today, if you're not already doing it, is to inspire you to go on a rampage of radical self love. If you've been putting your career first or other things or people first all the time, NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT YOU FIRST. One of the first articles I ever wrote for NYCastings documented the importance of being LIFE FIRST, ACTING SECOND! This falls in line with the idea that if you are your best self, you can do your best acting.
I can remember a time when career would take precedence over everything. I would cancel dates, hanging out with friends, workouts and alone time to make sure I was doing all that I could to advance my career. Eventually I burned myself out and felt miserable. I knew that something needed to change. I needed to put myself first instead. Often times as actors, we are led to believe that we have to drop everything to do what we are asked at a moment's notice. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE! When a production wants you, or a casting director wants to see you, they completely understand that you're a person first and an actor second. Not to mention that most actors have multiple things happening at once, it's ok to create a situation that's convenient for you. Those days of you being a slave to the industry are over. YOU ARE AN ASSET! And an asset is something that is treated well and is always needed. Let this marinate in your consciousness and begin to prove that when you love yourself unconditionally first, great things not only happen for you as an actor, but as a person. Here's a few benefits of what can come from a healthy self love as an actor:
1. REJECTION IS JUST A PUSH IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND ROLES FOR YOU.
2. YOU PUT YOURSELF FIRST AND PEOPLE RESPOND TO THAT ACCORDINGLY.
3. YOU GAIN COMPLETE CONTROL OF YOUR CAREER.
4. YOU MAKE CHOICES OUT OF LOVE THAT SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AS OPPOSED TO CHOICES FROM FEAR AND DESPERATION.
5. THE SKY BECOMES THE LIMIT FOR YOU BECAUSE YOUR INNER LIFE IS DICTATING WHAT YOU'RE RECEIVING ON THE OUTSIDE, AND ONLY GOOD CAN COME FROM LOVE.
One can argue that self love for actors is an option, but you can never deny all of the wonderful things that can happen when it's not only made a priority, but more importantly a NECESSITY.
We've all been there at one point or another. We look up and realize that we're not exactly where we think we should be at the moment. The key word is "THINK." I know what it feels like to put so much energy into something and not receive anything in return, or to sit and wonder what went wrong. You may have heard the story before from me, but in 2009 I booked one job: A video with Ne-Yo for Disney's The Frog and the Princess. I spent more money on classes, headshots, breakdowns and workshops that year, and I just couldn't believe that nothing was coming of it. Then a glaring realization struck me like a bolt of lightning. Before I get into that, I want to explain something to you.
There is a universal law called, THE LAW OF GESTATION. In as many words, this law states that every thought, word or action is a seed. At the right time, (divine time) this seed will sprout into a harvest. The truth is, we're completely unaware of when this harvest will sprout. BUT! IT WILL SPROUT! YOU JUST HAVE TO TRUST AND HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF, AND ALL THAT YOU'VE DONE. Getting back to that lightning bolt of realization, at the end of that year I realized that everything takes time to grow, especially when it's of great magnitude. So I needed to be patient with myself and the corresponding circumstances. It was at that point that I got excited because I knew that all of the classes, all of the auditions, all of the marketing, all of the workshops and courses was energy that was getting ready to transform into the success and fulfillment that I was seeking. Once again, I just had to be patient.
Fast forward to 2010, three feature films, a stunt gig and three commercials later, I realized that all of the work in 2009 wasn't wasted. IT WAS TRANSFORMED!! You may be waking up day after day, wondering why you're going to this audition or why you're taking this meeting. Some of you may have been at this for five or ten years with nothing really to show for it. But don't get discouraged, because your harvest time is coming. Your success is awaiting the right time to sprout up in your life and it won't be a millisecond late. Take a moment right now to think about all that you've done. NOW GET HAPPY! GET EXCITED! You are priming yourself for some serious fulfillment in the entertainment industry. The sooner you experience joy about where you are in your acting career, the greater you'll start to feel about what's inevitably possible for you.
I leave you with one of the greatest quotes I've ever come across from Keanu Reeves' character, Neo, in the Matrix. "NOTHING EVER REALLY DIES, IT'S ONLY TRANSFORMED." This lets us know the most important thing for any of us embarking upon this acting journey, ALL OF OUR THOUGHTS, WORDS AND ACTIONS ARE LEADING US TO A PLACE WHERE WE CAN FEEL HAPPY, FULFILLED AND ACCOMPLISHED AS ACTORS. With that being said, every step you take, every move you make is leading you to somewhere you can be proud of right now!
One of the greatest things about life is it's unpredictability. But, if we're not prepared to respond in a way that will serve our development, we can easily get wrapped up in a labyrinth of confusion and suffering....But you know what? IT NEVER HAS TO BE THAT WAY, AND here's how you can make it a reality.
Bruce Lee once taught us to be like water. Be shapeless, be formless and move with the flow of all things. In this flow, you will find the greatest peace. I would like to draw your attention to something much similar, and it's called BEING PLANTLIKE. When we think about plants most of us see them as nature's decoration to beautify our earth, as well as givers of unlimited oxygen. But, if we look closer, plants are one of the greatest teachers of how to live life to the fullest.
Plants teach us that if we are ever going to grow and evolve into our highest potential, our foundational roots have to be the strongest. It's not the branches on the outside that count, but the roots' ability to absorb everything that will help it grow. Speaking of branches, plants know when to prune parts of itself away when it's not SERVING IT'S GREATER PURPOSE! This is one of the greatest lessons any of us can ever learn. When people, jobs, relationships, places or anything that doesn't serve our highest good, think of how a tree lets it's branch go with LOVE.
Last but not least, plants understand how to adapt to the seasons. They understand time to go inward, time to harvest, time to weather the storms, and when it's time to blossom. When we first moved into our home a few years back, we planted a few seeds out back. On most days, for quiet time, we spent hours watching them evolve. When it rained, they stood firm, when it was hot, they stood firm, when it was cold or windy, they would bend but wouldn't break.
From that moment on, I realized that if I modeled the course of my life after plants I would always be in a position to prosper and grow the way my soul desired. Same goes for everyone else. When you decide to be plantlike, you'll be deciding to be generous and someone whose able to grow in all circumstances. Embrace a species that have been here since the beginning of time and always appear to understand what's most important to all of us...THE FLOW OF LIFE!