Meryl Streep’s word of advice to aspiring actors.
“None of my friends took me seriously. I came home and announced, ‘I’m going to move to New York,’ and they were like ‘OK.’ Then when I did, they kept waiting for me to fail and come back. But I knew I wouldn’t. I was like, ‘I’ll show you.'”
– Jennifer Lawrence (Award-winning Actress; holds record for youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award three times)
“I think the most liberating thing I did early on was to free myself from any concern with my looks as they pertained to my work.”
– Meryl Streep (Award-winning Actress; holds the record for most Oscar nominations in Hollywood history)
You’ve got to let it go. It’s not about you, it’s about the character and the story. You can’t do them justice if you’re preoccupied with yourself and how you look. Sometimes easier said than done, I know.
There’s an unequivocal beauty in raw honesty.
“Everything that goes up must come down. But there comes a time when not everything that’s down can come up.”
– George Burns (Award-winning Actor; one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned Vaudeville, film, radio and television)
Time is of the essence. If you’re going to pursue a dream, do it now while you’re still young and lively and daring! The rest can wait, they’re not going anywhere.
And it feels so damn good.
Had a very successful acting class today. I’d been a little worried that I might’ve emotionally worn myself out in the process of figuring out my character and wouldn’t be able to “go there” when the time came. On top of that, I was exhausted. Didn’t get much sleep the night before so I felt like a zombie. I would’ve way much rather have crawled into my bed than go to class. On top of THAT, it was a scene from a movie that I’d watched the shit out in the past, which makes it harder for me to make it my own rather than mimicking how it was done in the film.
((I am really tired though, so not everything I write may make sense! Formulating sentences is quite the task right now, but I know I have to get this out tonight cause it just won’t be the same tomorrow.))
Knowing all the above, I told myself on my way to acting class to relax and not to psych myself out with a bunch of expectation. Expectations of getting the scene ‘right’, expectations of it playing out a certain way. Expectation kills creativity, after all. And I’d done my homework so I knew the emotions were there, it was just a matter of whether they’d surface or not when I needed them- and sometimes they just don’t! Sometimes the elements just don’t line up. You can’t be too hard on yourself if you know you’ve truly done the work.
Before my scene went up, I did a quick meditation- if you could even call it that. It was more like a deep breathing exercise (eyes open) to ground myself and find where I’d left my character. To find her sadness from within. I still wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go there, but at least I had the tools. One of those tools, by the way, having a good listening ear. Really listening to what the other actor is saying to you. How can you react to something honestly if you’re not even giving yourself anything to react to??
So before you know it, I’m starting my scene and everything falls perfectly in place. My voice is strong, the emotions (betrayal, sadness, desperation) surface in all the right places, tears are falling freely, and I’m really listening, connecting with the other actor. Eyes were glued. Compliments were showered.
I’m not really one to toot my own horn about these kinds of things. Something within me just doesn’t allow that or feel comfortable with it. But the point is, I nailed it. 100%, no regrets. And that feels freaking good, especially when I didn’t think I’d be able to get there at all. I surprised myself and that’s awesome.
Just goes to show how far grounding yourself, really listening to the other actor and doing your homework goes. Homework to me is:
1. Knowing your lines to a tee. At the very least, the essence of the lines. What is your character trying to say? So that even if you forget your lines and don’t get it word for word, you still get across the same meaning. Plus knowing your lines means you aren’t scrambling for them, thus freeing you up in your body and performance.
2. Really analyzing and embodying who your character is as a person- who are they at their core? What drives them? What makes them who they are that makes them say the lines that are written?
3. Understanding what their role is in the scene. What was the story the writer wanted to tell in this scene, and what part does your character play in that?
I’m sure there are many other things as well, but that’s the majority of it. And I’m pretty sleepy, so if I think of anything else that’s important I’ll write about it in a new post. But seriously guys, if you’re doing all those things and whatever else you consider ‘homework’, then you’ve got the magic formula. All you have to do is trust that everything you need is already set up there for you.
You’ve just gotta open yourself up to it.
Sweet dreams, all you lovely people. xox. I’m going to pass out now.
The Aspiring Actress.