Ugh, sounds so boring. What an ernest, up herself actor. Jeez. I would like it to be known that I wanted to choose other magical words as my topic – imagination, playfulness, empathy, doodle-jokes … but with Robin Williams falling into the abyss so soon after Philip Seymour Hoffman, I return again to “resilience”. When I graduated I got so sick of jaded and negative advice givers – so I really hope this doesn’t come across that way … God knows I have no idea what I’m doing, but I do want to keep trying to figure it out for some time and I want to do it with you all around me!
These musings are not intended to trivialise mental illness, addiction and depression. Do what you need to do to be healthy, get as much help as you can and make time to really listen to each other when you ask: are you ok? We have lost too many great artists to this faceless assassin, and my thoughts are certainly not weapons against her, but merely an attempt to understand the context for her stealth sometimes.
Let’s put talent aside. There’s a certain static mindset that comes with the word “talent.” A growth mindset embraces the rewards of working for the gifts you have, and I think it is much more useful. Especially in regards to hopefulness, because I feel that when I just wait for the magic to come out of me I get all superstitious and insecure. Hopefulness is such a sanctuary, and one that too many creative souls have battles with. Understandably. Perhaps when you feel you have some control over the way hopefulness is generated in your life, you can keep being talented for longer? I dunno. Obviously not always. But in this context I am talking about hopefulness being the ability to come back again and again while remaining vulnerable and strong.
Our industry is competitive and personal. Talent doesn’t always triumph, but when you feel resilient you can keep putting yourself on the line. You can more easily celebrate the successes of your clan, you can accept rejection more palatably, you can maybe define yourself outside of your role as purely an artist.
Sometimes things really sting in our industry. Imagine if you could open the paper and see a photo of your accountant under the headline “Ms Fletcher Underwhelms in Awkward Attempt to Impress with Spreadsheet”. By nature we are thin skinned and empathic, and yet our work is consumed by strangers and occasionally spat out in some public vomatorium. The ability to recover from these brutalities is so crucial for us.
And so there’s your life. What is it that makes you happy? We are lucky because we have to be so vigilant with our happiness. We can’t rely on the security of a full time job to distract us from our wait for Godot. We have to keep agile. What is it now that makes me fulfilled? Is it traveling? Is it studying? Is it writing? Painting? Parenting? Lots of actors put off life because they are on hold for the validation of their work. It is hard not being able to do what makes your heart sing on a daily basis, but having a rich life constantly feeds your work anyway. The word happy sounds glib, I would define it by a balance of Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose which continues to self motivate us (stolen from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&feature=channel). However, there is nothing like that feeling of flow we have when we are immersed in our art. Even if that “art” is dressing up like a ninny and doing fart jokes apparently!
Look after each other. It’s often only after a tragedy that we feel the kinship of our community so keenly, and yet we are always together. Sometimes you will be up and sometimes you will be down and most of your mates will have this flux in their career too. Let’s try to make mental wellness part of our community.
A few years ago I was feeling really hopeless about my acting opportunities. I found this speech, and I read it every day and it made me feel like less of a victim. Plus, he is WAY more eloquent than me! http://karifairy.tumblr.com/post/8472830336
And who can resist Meryl Streep
Congratulations on joining the tribe, may we all enjoy playing in this sandpit together, I’ll see you at the dress up box!