A few days ago a friend of mine asked me what kind of actor do I want to be? I actually get asked this question a lot but the more I reflect upon this question, the more my answers change. Before I used to answer with the type of roles I’d be good for, or whatever roles I thought ppl would believe me to be, i.e. quirky best friend, tom boy, dork, nerd, nerdy student, awkward teenager. Even now looking back at this past response, I feel I didn’t really answer the question. In answering my friend recently, I said, “there’s no kind of actor I want to be. The biggest misconception about acting is that you’re pretending. From all my classes and workshops, the one thing I’ve gathered is that acting is the opposite of pretending. It’s actually just being. The hardest part about acting is that you have to be yourself in whatever given situation, even when you’ve never experienced it.”
Yup. Just be yourself. Sounds like an after school special. But it’s true. I remember asking a casting director once, “What can actors do to stand out, to get casting directors to remember them?” The casting director point blank said, “just be yourself. I’ve never heard you laugh. I’ve never seen you cry.” It’s true isn’t it? With acting, all you can do is be yourself and if they don’t choose you, it’s not you, it’s just a matter of taste. I was watching the finale for project runway a few weeks ago and *spoiler alert* one of the designers who is considered so avant-garde designed a very ethereal dream-like collection. He was one of the finalists and when Tim Gunn went around doing his critique, you could tell that Tim Gunn didn’t really like the collection. But what makes Tim Gunn such a stud is that though he knew the collection wasn’t on his wavelength, he knew that it was a phenomenal collection. He gave props to the finalist named Fabio (he was my favorite competitor) and said to Fabio, “it’s a matter of taste. But bravo. This collection is you.”
There’s such a sense of relief learning this lesson. But I haven’t internalized it yet. It’s easier said than done. With all the different social expectations, people’s opinions, personal insecurities and the occasional random mind fucks, it’s hard to be true to yourself and really own it too. However, I have discovered that to really separate myself from all these distractions, I must allow myself time to reflect whether through writing, listening to music, going for a walk, etc. Only through reflection, can I really find my true self, be my true self, and really own my true self.
That is why I’m going to write a novel. It’s November 1 and it’s national novel writing month (Nanowrimo). Ira Glass said that there’s a gap between your taste and your work. Often times we berate ourselves because our work just isn’t good enough to the works of people we admire. So in order to close this gap, Ira Glass says you have to produce. Practice. Write. Nanowrimo encourages this. You have one month to write a 50,000 word novel. There’s a time constraint so that you don’t overthink your work and constantly edit and second-guess. You just write.
I love books, I read like a fiend, and I am always so amazed by how authors can describe a scene so viscerally in my mind, how they can take a bunch of words and magically (almost literally) transport me to that place and time. I want to be able to do that with my acting. Acting is storytelling. But for me to be a good actor, I need to be me truthfully in imaginary circumstances. But how do you do that if you don’t know yourself? (At 26, I have a good grasp of who I am, but I’m always down to learn more). Writing to me is a very cathartic act. It allows me to peel off the layers of the social construct of me and really reveal my true core. In attempting to do this, I hope to reflect upon myself, to know myself better, and to really believe in myself. I must believe in myself before anyone else right? Right. Believe achieve ah ah. Let’s go.