Dear artistic soul,
I am a huge fan of Georgia O’Keeffe’s artwork.
Since my teen years, I’ve been a longtime admirer of O’Keeffe’s paintings, drawings, and letters.
Her unique interpretation of nature spoke to me on a visceral level: the colors, the forms, the abstractions. I loved them all. AND HER. She seemed like the coolest person that I wish I had met. I just now stumbled on a documentary about her life and art on YouTube, and she says:
“I was always looking for someone to tell me how to paint landscapes. And I never could find that person. They could only tell me how they did it. I had to figure it out for myself.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
Maybe her words will resonate with you as you are creating your own career, friends. She is one of the great Modern American artists…and she had to figure out how to do it.
The truth is that no one can tell you how to do this acting thing. You just have to figure it out for yourself.
You have to try things. You have to do it badly, and do it well, and then do it badly again, and then figure out what even is good or bad, without any paralyzing judgments so that you can do it again.
You can study and study, but you also have to do and do. Don’t wait for permission to do a great scene on camera, or do some “amazing” acting. Just find the ways to figure it out—to DO it.
I love how visual artists often sketch and then paint. They often work out ideas first. Ever seen a painter’s sketches? How can you do that as an actor? How can you create ways for yourself to keep “throwing paint onto a canvas”? To keep exploring a theme that resonates for you, like Monet did with waterlilies? Can you use your auditions and classes to “figure out” your own artistry?
What if you took a class, but not because you want to learn how to do it “right” or do what a teacher tells you to do?
What if you do a self-tape, but not the way you think is the “right way,” but the way you feel is creative?
What if you are acting as if you are simply in process and…figuring it out? What would THAT feel like? Would that change how you participate?
In auditions and performance, I love to watch actors who are in process and not actors who have it all figured out and are proving to me that they are great actors. As a director, I seek an actor who will get in the trenches with me. As a coach, I get excited by actors who want to excavate the many ways of drawing a character. As a former casting director, I sought out actors who could wrangle and make sense of the directors’ and writers’ creative visions. Because we are ALL TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Please, actors, have so much belief in your acting work. Allow yourself the space to stumble forward and figure it out for yourself. Give yourself some grace to be a messy painter on a blank canvas!
For actors who want to…
…I would love to see you around the studio. Join me as soon as you can in an acting class.