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Why Being a Non-Conformist Is Essential To Acting

Why Being a Non-Conformist Is Essential To Acting

We are all non-conformists! It’s in our DNA. There is a trailblazer within each of us just waiting to be expressed.

But it requires us to challenge the established ways of institutionalized, dogmatic thinking. Being a non-conformist is not about you putting something on top of who you already are. It’s allowing your essential nature to come forward.

Authentic non-conformity simply comes from your being you.

In my early 20s I’d always try to do "stuff" to appear different or odd or whacky to the world. These were my early attempts in non-conformism. To show how special I was. Or for people to pay attention to me. And though the spirit of that passion was correct, its expression was not.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered it’s not about doing or showing anything. You don’t have to try so hard. It’s about being. It just is.

The challenge of tapping into your own non-conformist self is that we are all anesthetized by popular culture. We’re all in a cultural coma. And what’s scary is we often don’t realize it.

We eat what we’re told to eat; wear what we’re told to wear; read the same books; listen to the same music; watch the same TV, etc.

What if we consumed less? And thought for ourselves and created more?

William Goldman, who wrote "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Princess Bride," said that, “The single most important fact of the entire movie industry is that nobody knows anything.”

He talked about how Paramount Studios was the only studio to say yes to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when every other major studio in Hollywood turned it down. “Why did Paramount say yes?" he continues. "Because nobody knows anything. And why did all the other studios say no? Because nobody knows anything. And why did Universal, the biggest studio at that time, pass on 'Star Wars'? Because nobody, nobody – not now, not ever – knows the least goddamn thing about what is or isn’t going to work at the box office.”

But this can be extended to everything. No one knows what’s going to work in publishing, in design, in music, in innovation, in science, in fashion, in technology, etc. Nobody.

It’s all experimentation. Trial and error. Attempt and repeat. Taking a Quantum Leap.

You weren’t put on this planet to conform. You weren’t put on this planet to tell the same stories that have been told for the last 50 years. You are here to tell your story.

Stop being so afraid that you might not be liked. Or that you can’t ruffle some feathers. Or that you’ll get rejected or denied or fired or let go. So what?

If you keep trying to change yourself for everyone who is asking, then what are you left with? No self.

Everyone is going to tell you something different. You need to do this and you must do that. It has to happen by a certain age. You have to live in this zip code. You need to look this way, weigh this amount, wear these kinds of clothes, get this degree, work for this company, know this person, go to that gym, etc.

Be less concerned with what everyone says because they don't know.

As Thoreau said, “If an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side . . . one does not remain inert for the other, but both obey their own laws.”

That’s non-conformity!


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. Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.

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