After graduating from High School, I attended Cal Arts, majoring in theater. I arrived to the arts conservatory, open, raw and with only some experience. The auditioning process was very competitive to be accepted into the program. I knew I had talent, but I began to overthink my acting. What was once pure expression became clouded by technique.
In the program, I learned to count out iambic pentameter, translated all of my scripts into the International Phonetic Alphabet for dialects and perfect Standard American Speech, was graded on the depth of my breath, tried to keep all of the many lines that needed to be memorized for the classes and plays in check, competed against my best friends for roles and made sure I wasn’t kicked out of school after our second year when our class of 22 was cut to 12 for the repertory.
On “Black Tuesday” we found out if we were going to be able to stay in the program for our last two years. It was frightening.
“You made it in by the skin of your teeth,” my advisor told me.
At 20 years old, my self-esteem immediately hit rock bottom and the youthful drive I once had left me. The opinions of the other teachers made me afraid of not only being judged but of being kicked out and not graduating.
After graduation, I got an agent and was sent out on auditions in Hollywood. I was so tightened up inside, terrified of rejection. I acted from my head instead of other actors, who weren’t trained, and who fearlessly showed up in front of the casting agent’s camera. Needless to say, I didn’t book very many roles.
The trick is to not believe everyone else’s opinions, but to follow the energy that we know when we feel it.
Letting go of technique or what you’ve previously learned would allow you to explore even deeper?
You protected yourself from outside influences?
You didn’t rely on what The Judge thought was best for you and listened instead to your intuition?
My agents sent me to film acting classes to work with renowned Hollywood teachers. Those teachers stripped me of my training, asked me to drop what I had learned at my art conservatory and return to the initial freedom of my innate inner expression. Looking back at old tapes from those classes, I could see I’d fallen back in love with acting.
My training was not bad or wrong. I learned tools, had gained knowledge and experience. Those skills intuitively arose later in my acting and creativity. But I had a habit of being too smart for my own good. I let my training and The Judge rule.
And so it goes with anything we want to create in our lives: We must remain human enough to stay in close touch with our truth and intuition.
Sometimes, when we focus too intently on something, we suck the breath out of it. We can ruminate, get caught in circular thinking, or trapped inside our heads. Trying to come to a conclusion about what we want or don’t want can put us into a state of paralysis.
Like when we’re working so hard, we can’t seem to get out of the stress-provoking loop. Sometimes we just need to go away for a weekend and let fresh air breathe new life into us.
If what we’re creating can make us too hyper-focused or put too many expectations on us, gifting ourselves the time and space to create gives us the freedom to really explore what wants to be born of us.
You could go anywhere you’re called to go?
You created for yourself and not for anyone else?
You didn’t have to have it all figured out?
Anything could happen?
You were open to surprises?
It’s all about giving yourself permission to keep being a beginner. Over time, as we carry on, we become an expert. But even as experts, we’re constantly learning something new.
So in actuality, we’re always beginning—always being beginners. When we decide we know all there is to know, that’s when we stop growing.
Wishing you true freedom of expression!