Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Show up & do the work.

A couple of weeks ago, an actress-friend and I were discussing show-business.  I mentioned that another friend wanted to be an actor.  She replied "oh, everybody wants to be an actor!"  Of course we both know that not EVERYbody does, but here in L.A., I'd be willing to wager that you can't throw a rock without hitting an actor.  Not that I recommend trying to do that.

Still, "wannabeing" is not the same as "being."  And "acting" requires, well, "ACTING."  Taking action.  It's literally the same word.  But what about other times, when the requirements aren't so clear and it's easy to delude oneself into believing that thinking about something a whole lot, or talking about it, or wishing for it really badly, or even planning for it is DOING?  Kind of like spreading yucky food out around your plate, making it look like you're eating, but nothing has changed but the appearance.

The past few weeks have brought me opportunities to see what happens when I show up and do the work.  I chose a scene for my acting class that I always thought was beautifully written, and that I have wanted to do for some time now ("Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune" by Terence McNally).  I asked a classmate to work on it with me, and it was the toughest scene I've ever done in a class because of the emotional work that I had to do in order to make it honest.  The character that I played is very much like myself, and that meant I had to use emotions that I don't really like to feel or show (we all have things that are easier for us and some that make us uncomfortable).  My scene partner and I talked about it, rehearsed around it, I stalled on learning the lines... I worked hard on it, but I didn't work hard  on what I really needed to work on.  I wasn't showing up for myself, and at a certain point, I knew I had to make the leap, or the work was going to suck, plain and simple.  I was 100% assured of failure if I didn't leap.  I would let my scene partner down, I would force my class to watch an awful scene, and I would let myself down.  I leapt, and the scene flew.  I'm not saying that I was the reason that the scene flew (there were two of us onstage, after all), but I knew that it wouldn't have had I remained "safe."  It was hard, the emotional excavation was uncomfortable and scary, but I had to show up or sit down.

I also just wrote, produced, shot, directed, edited, and acted in my first short film this weekend!  Dude.  That. was. CRAZY.  There were only 16 days from the time I wrote it until the time I was done editing it.  I wanted to quit when I saw how much union paperwork I had to do.  I wanted to quit again when I realized that self-producing was going to mean that I didn't have enough time to adequately prepare for the acting part of it.  I thought about quitting again when I realized that we didn't have anyone to run the camera, and that I was going to have to meet some stranger that I solicited on the internet and try to convince him or her to run the camera... basically, I knew that I didn't know what I was doing, and I was worried that my efforts were going to be inadequate, and that I would fail.  But I committed to showing up and doing the work.  The result?  An entire production team supported me more than I could have imagined.  My SAG-AFTRA rep was wonderful (even when I was asking truly dumb questions).  I learned soooo much... and now I have a short film to show for it.  I've been stalling for YEARS because I "didn't know how" to produce a film.  Turns out I just had to commit, show up, and do the work.  Who knew? ;o)

Lately, I've been hearing the quote "'Perfect' is the enemy of 'the good'" over and over again.  I think it's a message for me, so whether it's acting, working out, or trying something new and scary, I have to do the best that I can and allow my best to be "good enough" for me.

(I'll post the short film soon!!)


--Nicole

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