Getting Emotional

Before I get to the getting emotional stuff, here’s three quick Facebooky things:

  1. Keep an eye on the SMFA Facebook group where Erin will soon be posting a leadership opportunity for our year-end free 11-day challenge. Ooh, yeah, baby! We'd love to have you on the team!
  2. Join me at 3pm pacific for a Facebook Live broadcast right here on how to handle having friends who are experiencing more success than you… without begrudging them those wins.
  3. Vote in the 2018 Self-Management for Actors TOUR poll! (Click here to do it at Facebook. Or just scroll down to comment here at my blog, y'all!) It's time to plan where I'm headed to teach the SMFA goodness next!

Okay. Now on to the business of getting emotional.

Sunday night I went to a screening of Battle of the Sexes. (One-sentence movie review: The casting was spectacular, and while the movie was okay, I wanted the story to be so much better told.)

There are two key moments I want to write about today without spoiling anything (but OMG, the movie is about real events, so, um, can there *really* be spoilers?).

One, that Billy Jean King apparently loses focus when she gets emotional. (I’ll get to number two in a moment.)

Something I often say to clients as I coach them along their creative journey is, “Put that emotion into your ART, not your business.”

Because business decisions made from a place of fear or anxiety or stress or unchecked emotion can often be irrational, rash, even flat-out crazy.

But every day, we’re faced with business decisions about which we get emotional. “I don’t have an agent. It seems like everyone else does. This jackass who parks his butt at Starbucks soaking up the free wi-fi to submit clients on breakdowns a few hours a day wants to rep me. I guess I’d better say yes because it’s better than nothing.” Ugh.

“I can’t pick a headshot. I mean, I like this one but everyone else seems to have something more charactery. I’d better get something with a raised eyebrow, a shrug, a smirk, fake hipster glasses, and some fingerguns while I’m at it, just to be safe.” Sugar, don’t.

“Time is running out. I’m never gonna make it. I’m too old. Maybe if I just do this one mass mailing (or series of untargeted workshops or work off the card or nudity or, or, or…) everything’ll be different.”

Emotional. Business decisions. No bueno.

So much potential for fuckuppery.

But when we take that same emotion and drive it into our work, infuse our craft with it, push it deep into our gut to remind us of our WHY, we can actually do magical things.

When you feel yourself getting emotional, don’t let that drive you to give away endorsement deals, allow the opponent to select a biased commentator, or get paid less than you’re worth. Let it drive you to the court where you practice ’til your hands bleed.

Or, in non-Billie Jean King terms, let it drive you back to your self-tape setup where you shoot another take of that fabulously on-brand monologue you CRUSH so it’s even better when you next need it in front of buyers. Get your lighting improved. Find the perfect on-camera color to wear. Meet with your accountability buddies to share show bible intel. Bang out another scene in your latest script. Put that emotion into your ART.

Now, for the second thing from the-movie-I-wish-had-been-better (but seriously, such great casting).

There’s a moment at which we’re watching Emma Stone acting her ass off in a really quiet, still closeup. She — as Billie Jean King — is feeling the impact that alllllll the work she has done represents. Every moment of training, every sacrifice, every dream she held as a little girl battling her own “enoughness” culminating in this event… this event that was — and is — BIG.

I had a thought, watching this.

What if we spend more time sitting in the BIGness of some of what we do, as artists?

Here I am in the screening of this movie, three hours before the mass shooting in Las Vegas, thinking, “I want to write the next BonBlast about how sometimes our work is just BIG.”

And then I come home, a half-hour later there’s news hitting the Internet, and I say, “My God. Our work means nothing.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but this chronic powerlessness lately is something I am not enjoying, nor is it a feeling I want to grow used to.

So when I took time to connect back to that moment in Battle of the Sexes that made me say, “Man. Look at her, sitting in the reality of the BIGness of what she’s done,” I knew I could bridge my confusing emotions with this thruline.

It is because Billie Jean King — and Emma Stone in the acting of this moment — knew *before* the work was done that it could be BIG, that the bigness was even bigger.

I sat in the near-empty theater and thought to myself, “What if we lived our lives as if EVERYTHING we were doing creatively could change the world?”

Now, the logical part of my brain quickly ran in and started listing off reasons that’s a scary thought, not the least of which is that if we use this line of thinking to make the stakes too high for ourselves, we run the risk of screwing ourselves at crucial points, Γ  la Gay Hendricks’ Upper Limit Problem.

And the last thing I want to do is plant a seed for you beautiful people that you need to make things feel MORE of a big deal than they may already feel (y’know, like at auditions, agent meetings, networking events, and such).

But when it comes to that emotion and putting it into ART and making the storytelling feel *important*, I think there’s something to this concept of sitting in the BIGness of what we do. (Y’know, as we heal the world through the stories we were born to tell.)

So this is what I’ll ask of you today: Without putting your emotions into your BUSINESS decisions, without attaching too much meaning to the importance of the work you do in the PURSUIT of your dreams, consider — just for a moment — that your work, your craft, your talent, your gifts are BIGGER than you.

That you were put here to make a difference.

And then go do that.

Don’t wait for permission, for union membership, for representation, for validation from anyone outside of you… do it using your webcam, your smart phone, your porch in front of the neighbors. Make art. Put on a show. Create something. Tell stories that matter.

Create change.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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2 Comments

  1. Barry Clifton October 3, 2017 at 5:48 am

    The email notifying me of this outstanding blog post is in my inbox, right below a callback notification from an Emmy award winning Casting Director. I would not have received that email were it not for your tremendous encouragement and thought provoking challenges. The last paragraph of your post says it all. In Dustin Hoffman’s Master Class, he mirrors that sentiment “…Find a way to work. Act. Act. Act. There’s no replacement for it.”

    Reply
    1. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie October 5, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      How WONDERFUL, Barry! <3 Just awesome, all the way around! You inspire me!

      Reply

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