Back in September, when I was in New York, I asked the students (as I always do when I’m assessing a class) what areas of their work they were still developing. The answers, although different for each student, were also very similar.
Like everything in acting, the things we most need to develop are the areas that have their own corresponding equivalent in our own personal lives. Since acting is, as Academy Award-winner Tilda Swinton says, “all autobiography,” then what we’re constantly going to be pulling from and coming up against and trying to explore more of is, well, our life.
And where we have fears, tensions, resistance, judgments, secrets, and denials of things in our own life, we’re going to come up against them in our acting. There’s just no other way. But they’re there for a reason.
It’s OK to have these things. In fact it’s necessary because the art of self-exploration (and ultimate self-realization) allows us to uncover areas of our lives that hold us back, keep us locked in fear and anxiety, and prevent us from being really and totally free.
To not explore them and uncover them keeps us locked in their prisons, where we never actually experience their benefit and what they have to teach us. But to have awareness of what and where they are and gently unravel them, then gives us access to latent potential and possibility that wouldn’t be there without them.
So for sure, they’re a curse (in a way), until they become the blessing.
And I don’t think we ever fully overcome them. Academy Award-nominee Joaquin
Phoenix recently said in an interview that he’s been in the business for 30 years and he still feels fear when approaching the work.
So it never ends. But having the awareness that you feel fear and then pushing through it to discover what’s on the other side is what brings you to a place of pure creativity. You come face-to-face with yourself and what’s possible for you.
You realize that all the things in your own life are actually there working for you if you but allow them to.
So bless your stuff. Your stuff is there to teach you, if you but allow it to.
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and Artistic Director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) in Los Angeles, where it was voted the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles by Backstage in 2011 and 2012 (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read). AMAW is also located in New York and Australia.
Meindl's first feature film, “Birds of a Feather,” won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2012 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and he won Best Director at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Love, Backstage, and various spirituality podcasts. He has been featured in ABC News, Daily Variety, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and the CW KTLA. He is also the author of the new best-selling book, “At Left Brain Turn Right,” which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Check out Meindl's free smartphone app on iTunes. 'Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.