Yowza! I got a *lot* of feedback on last week’s Sorry Is a Sucky Word column. Thank you, beautiful people! It’s so great hearing from you and knowing when something I share has such an impact. I’m excited to hear how the “sorry jar” works for those of you trying it out and I really love knowing you have ongoing accountability already set up with your friends to point out your “uhm” (whether it’s an “I’m sorry” or a “Do you know what I mean?” being said mindlessly). Putting these bits of self-talk, these habits not created mindfully, these tics in place will serve you well. Do keep me posted on how it’s going for you!
As a companion piece to last week’s column, we’re gonna get into another way we play small: We turn down who we are. We hush the volume on our fullest selves. We try to bland it out hoping that makes us more “acceptable” (or more castable or more lovable or whatever the case may be). It’s as if we feel there’s a “safe” way to be ourselves and we choose that rather than being fully, beautifully who we are.
My husband has a wonderful phrase and he uses it often: “The true beauty of humanity is in its flaws, not in its perfection.” And when he messes up (or when I mess up or when anyone else messes up), he says, “That’s me being beautifully human.”
Yet for some reason, we try to be perfect (note: Striving for “better YOU” is not the same thing as striving for perfection, an unattainable beast) and when it comes down to our actor selves, we may be doing a real disservice to our most castable selves by doing so!
For example, I’m working with some actors as a part of our Six Weeks To LA (6W2LA) program and we’re talking about accents. Many folks headed to Los Angeles believe they need to create that lovely “standard American” dialect and lose any trace of their native accent. Sure, there’s a benefit to having the *ability* to drop an accent, pick up a dialect, even speak other languages. Of course. That’s true for everyone! But often actors are coming here from all over the world and trying to sound American full-time. They’re keeping their native sound undercover. They’re trading off being themselves for being something way more commonplace. They’re shifting from being that “new to town filled-with-potential hot commodity” to being like EVERYONE else. *yawn*
I get it. Heck, I *did* it. As a kid actor in Atlanta, I was told I’d be more castable if I killed off the southern drawl. So I did. And then I moved to Los Angeles in 1993 and found I was more castable SOUTHERN than I ever was “back home.” Don’t be surprised — if you move to Los Angeles having tried to be less yourself and more like everyone else — to discover you’re actually asked to turn UP your “youness” to become more of what you stopped trying to be. That is… if the buyers care enough to tell you that’s what they want you to do.
Much of the time, we’ll just say, “That was great! Thanks!” and send you on your way. We have infinite choices in the Hollywood talent pool and no one may take the time to steer you back toward your authentic self. So please, YOU be sure to do that. Do it before you get too branded as “safe.” Do it before you hammer away your native dialect. Do it before you dye your hair. Do it before you get plastic surgery for cryin’ out loud.
Remember this: You are castable for your uniqueness, not your sameness. Be YOU. Unapologetically, fully YOU. Turn down for nothing.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001993.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.