Starting in the business is tough, but honestly it’s also the most exciting time in your journey. My first job straight out of theatre school was co-hosting the Discovery Channel show Travelers. I transitioned to Los Angeles during the second season of that show and was able to get onto my second series One World after Travelers was finished. I was a kid. I thought I knew a lot, but looking back I realize I knew and understood very little.
When I talk to new actors, the thing I recognize the most is that niggling fear of but “they see me as this” or “I only go out for that” or “when I walk in, I just get the feeling they don’t like me.” Those exact words came out of my mouth as a young actor and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that you have to learn to let go of these very destructive thoughts in the creative process.
Acting is very much a courageous act because you feel so vulnerable when you walk in, so it’s instinctive to protect and align yourself with a perception that feels very true, but I can tell you guys – none of it is helpful when you’re working. Maybe you can analyze this at a panel discussion as we did at the Equity discussion last week, but it’s very hard to limit your thoughts from event to event. Generally, thoughts are uncontrollable, so letting go of these common perceptions overall will free you up entirely. Sure you’re going to feel the way you feel, but until you learn to “drop in” to the present moment, you’ll struggle with inconsistent work and auditions.
Meditation is a great way of practicing being in the moment. You learn to deal with your monkey mind and if you’re one of these people who very much clings to your ideology, you might find that you can ultimately have a successful career but you will endure a lot of suffering. A lot of desperate soul searching, a lot of coping that will lead to all kinds of addictions and then ultimately you will mature and time will have passed and you’ll look back and realize, “Wow. When I was young, why did I waste so much precious time worrying about that stuff?”
So if any of this sounds familiar I hope you learn these lessons quickly, unlike me, ahem and just cut to the real work. Learn your craft and then learn to let go of those thoughts that will undo you.
For those of you who don’t know Pema Chodron’s readings, she’s like a modern day Yoda. I highly recommend her to anyone who’s interested in becoming a more authentic Self. She talks about meditation in a way that reminds me very much of acting. Just being.