What kind of artist are you becoming? (assuming you're an artist) But I believe that we're all artists in some way. More on that at a later time. But back to the question - what kind of artist are you? Every actor I know wants to work, of course, but do we stop to think about what kind of art we want to make - what is the experience that we want people to have when they encounter us? This might sound like a weird way to look at being an actor, but I believe that it's imperative and necessary. I mean, I guess it's fine to just love acting and want to act. But I believe that very few of us becoming actors just to do that. There is a higher calling in what we do - if we choose to see it. So that begs the question - what kind of artist are you?
It's something I want to explore this year. I think I know what kind of artist I am - I know what material speaks to me, I know who I am, what I believe in, and I have a strong artist feel for things. I'm continually trying to grow and be shaped by the work I book. I'm trying to develop more work where my artistic taste becomes more obvious and finds an expression. Hopefully I'll keep exploring this and share what I find.
I was on a cruise with my husband and we met a couple who asked us what we do. When she found out we were actors, she asked if she could pass along our contact info to a friend's daugther who is interested in becoming an actor. I gave her my card. That was a year ago and since then, we've been emailing and sometimes Skyping to discuss how to become an actor, what are some resources, what advice can I share, etc. Since then, I've also had a number of people email me and ask to sit down to coffee or offer to take me out to lunch to learn more about the acting business. I don't always have time to do this - so I figured that I could share things on here from time to time.
That said - if you don't know what kind of artist you are, or even if you do - I think there are things you can do to help you define these things for yourself. One very simple thing is to be informed. Listen to the news - NBC Nightly News had a podcast that I listen to most mornings while I'm getting ready. By the time I'm done with my shower, I have at least a small sense of what's happening in the world. If I have more time, I'll read the NY Times online - or leave CNN playing on livestream while I'm doing things and preparing for my day. And then for issues that I don't understand or don't know much about - I research. And that's really important. Don't be the type of person who just shares sound bytes or repeats what their parents or a boyfriend has told you. Look it up, research both sides. Be informed. Don't just say you think the refugees should have a home OR not have a home in the US - look at both sides. And then maybe go one step further - talk to people who don't agree with you. Operative word - talk. Too many people want to jam their opinions down someone else's throat. For what? To make yourself feel better? To feel right? Take the time to understand complicated issues. This will help you develop your art because you know and are beginning to understand the complicated life of people outside your sphere. And you will become someone who is infinitely more interesting to talk to.
I studied with Bill Esper early in my career and one day he came to class and asked if any of us read the NY Times and saw an article he wanted to discuss. No one in the class had read it. He said "How can I even talk to you people?". That had impact. It was his subtle and artful way of saying, pick up a newspaper, learn about the world - get your head out of the clouds and try to understand what's happening in your city, your state, your country, your world.
Something I came across today in reading the news was this article about Tonya Pinkins: