Staying Inspired As An Actor

by Mandana Wright

Grimacing deeply, an anonymous passerby picks flakes of confetti from her mouth and confides in her equally discombobulated friend, “what’s that all about?” as Robert gleefully gallops by, dusting others with a festive spray of sparkles.

Our Hollywood Fringe Festival production “Shall We Play” was spearheaded by a promotional party that embodied a lovely sense of camaraderie and fun! With such impressive turnout for our initial party, it was no surprise that the production itself was a remarkable showcase of talent. Every player committed to their scene(s) and had great opportunity for development—I felt such pride to be affiliated with each and every one of you and I can’t wait to cultivate more work!

Recently in class, we discussed the advantages/difficulties of our business. My battle has been mostly uphill, and I imagine others share this sentiment, thus, some students mentioned the inadequacy of saccharine epithets. So, the reality: it doesn’t get “better”. This is it. Your journey is no different than that of [insert name of your inspirational figure here] except in scale, perhaps. For example, Kate Winslet was recently quoted as saying that she feels that every job she works will be her last. On working on “August: Osage County,” Julia Roberts said that when she got to set, she expected Meryl Streep to weave magic, but in reality, there was no magic, just a lot of hard work. Everyone shares feelings of isolation and inadequacy, so the best indicator of success, and what will separate you from the herd is inexorable hard work.

Consequently, I’m incessantly searching for happiness, inspiration and motivation for the present. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last, well neither does bathing — that’s why you recommend doing it daily.” What inspires you? Can you harness that daily? I’ve found that practicing gratitude has improved my attitude—and therefore, quality of life—immensely. And hey, sometimes a cute animal video is just enough inspiration to start the day off right.  What about viewing great work?  Vimeo is free, there are numerous film festivals to attend (many of which are free!), iTunes has breathtaking Oscar nominated shorts—it’s all within our grasp, we just have to choose it. We are in Los Angeles, the epicenter of our art, so even if you only have one hue to paint with, how you paint your canvas is entirely up to you. And if I had my only pot of paint taken from me, I’d cut my wrist and use my blood instead…it makes for a better painting, anyway. Create with what you have here, now, today.

Furthermore, I would be remiss not to remark on the fact that there is very lucrative business benefiting from the feeling of disenfranchisement amongst actors. They want you to believe that there are rules, that you owe the gatekeepers money/prostration for admittance and that you need to fit a profile. “The privilege of a lifetime it being who you are,” Joseph Campbell cites, and when you embrace that, everything falls into alignment, and road rises up to meet you.

“PROGRESS DEPENDS ON OUR CHANGING THE WORLD TO FIT US. NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I WANT TO BELIEVE THAT. I MUST BELIEVE THAT.” –Halt and Catch Fire

My helpful references:

www.insideactingpodcast.com

Self-management for actors: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SMFAninjas/

Book: The War of Art, Steven Pressfield

Story-telling podcast: http://snapjudgment.org

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