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Backstage Experts

You Need to Love Yourself as an Actor

You Need to Love Yourself as an Actor

You have to love yourself. End. Of. Story.

What else is there really on this individual journey we’re all taking? If you don’t love yourself, how can you possibly love another and radiate that love to your work and creativity? How will you birth new ideas and bring something tangible and worthwhile into the world?

When we get triggered or rejected and want to give up all hope and chuck it all, we must come back to self-love.

Our culture, though, has a misunderstanding of what self-love is.

We think it’s namby-pamby, new-agey, kumbaya phooey.

But self-love is brass tacks being. Think about acting. The art of acting is in many ways one of the highest expressions of creative love. We share ourselves bravely with other human beings through this vehicle of intimacy and vulnerability and power and courage.

When I was in my 20s, I didn’t think I had time for self-love. I just thought I could barrel through everything, continue to take action, and keep going. But eventually, life is going to catch up with you. What you resist persists.

We have to love ourselves, but not by the standards society sets because those are measured by the external. We equate the expression of love through things. If you’re not aware, your self-love becomes based on things that society says signifies love. Those measurements are not only unattainable but also ephemeral and can be destructive because they’re based on illusions. Self-love doesn’t come from how beautiful, physically fit, successful, popular, famous, or stylish we are.

It comes from self-acceptance.

You have nothing to prove to anyone. Whether you are working or not, famous or not, established or not, you’re already OK as you are.

Self-acceptance requires us to love those parts of ourselves we don’t already love—parts of ourselves we keep hidden, that we’re scared of, that we think are wrong. These are the parts that we actually need to live in our wholeness.

The parts equal the whole. Not some parts. All parts.

I had a student recently who told a story of how he bullied a number of kids when he was in elementary school. (He was also a victim of bullying.) Now as an adult—and a famous actor to boot—he does a lot of charitable work on behalf of organizations that help bring awareness to anti-bullying campaigns. But he feels because of his celebrity that he’s a hypocrite for doing so. How could someone who bullied so many kids now be stumping for charities about anti-bullying?

His own guilt and shame around that part of himself shows that bullying never ends.

We bully ourselves.

But the deeper learning comes from the insight that it’s not in spite of his having been a bully that he’s now charitable—it’s because of it. All parts of ourselves make us whole—even the parts we’re ashamed of and continue beating ourselves up for.

Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Realize all experiences in life lead us to wholeness.

Without them you wouldn’t be where you are today.

Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Vancouver. It was honored by Backstage three years in a row and named the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read).

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. It releases on iTunes and DVD in March of 2014. 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 CW KTLA. He has been a guest speaker at the GATE 2013 Story Conference, founded by Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle, and David Lynch's Masters in Film Program (Maharishi University of Management).

He is also the author of the best-selling creativity 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

Meindl's 2nd book, Alphabet Soup For Grown-Ups, comes out this November.

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