"THE BOSS BLOG"
I've been shedding childhood emotional blocks of my own for the past year, and as I watch the changes that occur I realize that there is one common denominator that comes into play...Ok, maybe there's two! FREEDOM AND FEARLESSNESS. Two nonexpendable qualities we all need if we're going to succeed as an actor as well as life. I would like to paint a picture for you.
You're about six years old and you are having the time of your life. You're running around like a crazy chicken (I know, right lol) laughing having a phenomenal time, touching stuff, falling down rolling in the dirt and then someone yells out: OH MY GOD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! STOP IT, STOP IT STOP IT!! You suddenly pause, dropping everything, feeling as if the fear of God has penetrated your little world. In that moment, your subconscious mind registers: FEAR EVERYTHING!
No longer are you that carefree, happy child who has a free spirit open to whatever life slings your way. You become fearful of everything. Life no longer has it's zest. All of the magic it once had is gone. As you begin to grow older, you become cautious of everything because all that you can think about is that loud STOP you heard all those years ago. You cancel that meeting with the agent who you really wanted to sign with because you're afraid that you might not be good enough. You cancel the audition because you feel like, "it's not important, maybe next time." You let industry people abuse your dignity because you're fearful that they'll take a gig away from you or give you a bad name...So the question you might be wondering is, WHAT HAPPENED?
Here's what happened, a childhood program has been running your life and zapping your inner essence that helps you to see the excitement in the uncertainty as well as love in every situation. You're always asking yourself, what if, what if, what if?
If you're feeling this way or experiencing this, then you are alot like me. I became so fearful of life that it absolutely sickened me to the highest degree. As a child, I was yelled at by every authority figure imaginable. It created an apprehension within me that caused me to pause with fear in my life when most people would act. I couldn't figure it out, but I knew something had to change. Why was I so afraid? Why was I always imagining the worse? I asked myself this question numerous times. And then one day on an afternoon walk in nature, it was revealed.
We're a product of our environment until we feel old enough or rather strong enough to change that. The only problem is that, if there are subconscious blocks, it stops you from reclaiming that power to transform things. Now it's time to take back the power that is rightfully yours.
Take a long good look at your life. Is it muddled by "caution?" Do you tend to stop when you're about to fly off the ledge where impending joy lies beneath? Do you find as an actor, you're following the program that millions of others have, the program that brings no enthusiasm, joy or thrills? If you are, that's completely fine. But now it's time to discover the real you!
Use meditation and introspection to find where these programs may have started. Once you discover them, start the releasing process, but more importantly start to live your life again as that carefree child who went 1000 miles per hour getting into any and everything, finding joy at every turn. This is your birthright, seize it every chance you get!
Our society tends to look down on feeling upset, frustrated or disappointed. But what are these times in our careers and lives truly trying to tell us? What diamond is trying to be revealed through life’s hardship of coal? Before I get into that, I would like to share a few stories that prove the point that I know will make some of the hardest times in your career, the most beneficial.
After all the hoopla in Grease and a few other notable roles, did you know that John Travolta almost quit acting? I remember him saying that it had been a while since he booked something that he really wanted to do and he was ready to give it up. In fact, he actually did give it up. Only to soon after receive a call from Quentin Tarantino to do Pulp Fiction.
Do you know who Gabriel Mann is? He is most notably known for his perfection of tech-billionaire, “Nolan Ross” in ABC’S Revenge. Revenge ran for four seasons from 2011-2015. Before Mann booked the biggest role of his life, he had been acting for a very long time. He was hired for numerous jobs as a principal actor and had some success by all standards. But something was missing. He still hadn’t seemed to land that job that would solidify his career. He decided that if something wasn’t going to happen soon, he was going to hang it up and get a regular job. So he did his best in his audition for revenge and went on his way. Booking a TV show as a regular cast member is often a lengthy process for actors. The network wants to be sure that they’re getting it right, so they take their time to do so. Gabriel Mann was ready to move back east, when out of the blue it seemed, he received a call saying that he had been cast as Nolan Ross.
Two stories, one huge lesson. When you look at both of these instances it involved two actors who had basically felt like they had given it all they had, were likely exhausted and wanted to give up. But, the truth of the matter was, they weren’t giving up, they were LETTING GO! This is the lesson all performers need to not only learn, but embody. Physically we can only do so much before we have to take a step back and let go to allow the universe to bring us exactly what we’ve worked for, some of us for most of our lives. If you have the desire, that is proof that it is meant to be realized. You just have to stay the course. Once you’ve stayed the course and done all that you can do, let go, and let the outcome be what it is meant to be. It will always work out in your favor.
We've all been a victim of it at one time or another. We've felt that we needed the approval of parents, teachers, friends and other authority figures. We tend to hinge our self-image on whether or not these people approved of what we did. If you took the same path that I did, then you likely faced some adversity, especially if the road chosen involved something completely out of the box. From there I begin with, oh how much I love the arts!
I've never been the kind of individual who would take a standard job for a guaranteed paycheck. This above all else felt like a spiritual cop out. Why? Because on the inside, I knew in my heart it wasn't supposed to be this way. It just wasn't. So for a while, I followed orders like a good little soldier seeking that validation from any outside source that would give it. I realized that it was pure desperation as I continually denied the awesome divine that wanted to rage out and sprinkle the world with immense creativity.
I just couldn't do it anymore....Something needed to change, and something needed to change quickly. What in the world was I going to do? The first thing I did was go within. Introspection has always been a handy spiritual tool when I needed a transformation. I must admit, diving into the unconscious is a lot like looking for a ghost. You better be ready to face the fear of the moment when you find what you've been looking for. But that's exactly what I did. After a short amount of time, I had found the answer I had been looking for:
I WAS AN APPROVAL SEEKING MACHINE!
If it wasn't from my mother, it was from my teachers, the nuns at school, the priests, the deacons, the police, etc. etc.....I had been doing it all backwards. In the western hemisphere, we are often taught to relinquish our power to anything externally, but as I studied deeper into spirituality, it has shown me that every answer I need is within me. Because I am an unlimited, conscious divine being having a human experience.
So the guidance I received was, FOLLOW YOUR NATURAL CREATIVE EXPRESSION, NOT THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS. People will only give you their own opinions and if you are tied to that, you will quit all things that spark enthusiasm within you. You will be unable to trust what is always right, and that is your heart. All that matters is what your heart truly tells you. You should allow it to sing it's truth as loud as you possibly can. Don't hold back at all.
It's now time to live by your own standards and the only approval that matters....And that's the approval of God. Guess what, you already have it! The moment you got the idea, the moment you decided to act upon it, it came with unconditional love, joy and excitement that you would bring it to it's full manifestation.
In what way can you express yourself freely today? That can be just about anything. Writing, acting, speaking, painting, drawing, starting a business, anything! Now is your time to move from approval to creative expression.
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.