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The Working Actor

June Diane Raphael Gives Her Younger Self Real Talk

June Diane Raphael Gives Her Younger Self Real Talk
Photo Source: Hanna Barczyk

Hi, June! Yes, you! I’m talking to you! It’s me, and by me I mean you but 15 years older! Isn’t this crazy? Please don’t ask me to explain the science of how that is possible because as we both know—I can’t.

I wanted to give you a couple of pieces of advice for your future. This way you can end up here where I am, but maybe even in a better place, like where—actually, I’m going to stop myself right there because that’s one of my first pieces of advice for you.

Stop comparing yourself! Sweet baby girl, you are unique and special just by virtue of being the only you out there. Your voice is singular, as is your career path, so you can admire Dianne Wiest and Diane Keaton and all the great Dianes, but stop looking around at your peers scared that they will get ahead without you. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Put your head down and work on your auditions. And speaking of…

It’s not about what you wore to the audition, it’s about how you made them feel. June, stop obsessing over your goddamn audition outfits. Wear all black for all I care. But stop buying clothes with money you don’t have. Stop bringing three different shirts to the audition and changing right before it into one that “feels more right.” Just stop it all. When you are not working at your day job, use the time and energy you have to work on the scene! Work on exploding in the audition room. If they have notes on your “look,” you will get them for your callback and can deal with them then.

I’m not done with you, sweetie, so keep on reading.

Take up space. I’m not talking about literal space. (I know you still love your 4 p.m. bagels with butter, so I think your physical space is at its max.) I’m talking about feeling free and loose and dangerous on a film or TV set. I know you get nervous acting in front of technicians and giant vacuous lenses pointed at you and tiny marks you have been told not to move from—but let it all go! Don’t worry about doing it right so the mysterious people behind the monitors won’t yell at you. Worry about making the very technical environment your wild creative space where anything can happen. Your best work will happen when you stop asking permission. Do it all wrong and fail, fail, fail. (I bet you didn’t expect that from your future self.)

Stay in class. Always be enrolled in something. Acting class, singing class, improv at UCB, nude portraiture; you never know where you will find your creative partners/tribe/inspiration. It’s good for the soul, and tax deductible!

Grieve for the part you just lost for five minutes, feel sorry for yourself, take a breath, and then start writing. I know you think writing is a backup plan if you are deemed not attractive enough to be an actor, but it will become the biggest tool you have. Write the parts you want to play. And then set up a casting couch, sleep with yourself, and cast yourself in that role!

I think that covers it. Oh, and apply sunblock, please! I’m paying for it now.

xo,

June

Raphael can be seen on Season 2 of Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” coming May 6.

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