We are a culture obsessed with self-improvement. It seems every time we turn around we are being told that there is something else about us that needs to be changed – our weight, our clothes, our attitudes, even our eyelashes! And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself, I think it’s important to look at why you want to do so. One of the main motivators for “improvement” is lack of acceptance for who you are in your body and soul and where you are in your life. Advertisers and marketers prey on this aspect of human nature and use it to turn you against yourself by making you believe that you, just as you are, aren’t good enough.
For actors, this attitude can have a negative affect not only on your self-image, but also on your work as well. In class sometimes, I’ll ask an actor how he may have behaved in a specific situation in his life so that we can examine the color, temperature and shape of the choices he made based on his experience. Many times what I wind up hearing is how the actor wished he would have behaved, because that would have been more acceptable or appropriate in his eyes than how he did behave. This creates a disconnect in the work. A choice made based on wishful thinking as opposed to actual experience rings false. The actor is not connected to the emotional life of the choice.
Acting is not about self-improvement. Rather, it is about self-exploration and awareness. It is also about non-judgmental acceptance of every part of yourself. When you think something is unacceptable about yourself, you also try to hide it. This takes an enormous amount of energy– energy that would be better spent compassionately accepting and nurturing every part of your very human being.
To that end, spend some quiet time with yourself this week. Be open, be kind, and ask yourself this question: Who am I when I leave myself alone?
Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of The Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent and casting consultant. In his 14 years of teaching, he has seen the careers of hundreds of his students take off. He is also the author of the best-selling book, “The Best of You – Winning Auditions Your Way.”
Craig is currently teaching his audition technique classes and his Meditation for Actors classes in Santa Monica, CA. For more information visit www.wallaceauditiontechnique.com.