MOLTEN = Abundance
LAVA = POWER and True Purpose
Mission Statement: What is your mission? Being very specific and clear on this will help you through some tough times, rejection, and self-doubt. A strong and powerful mission statement will keep you focused on your purpose and “super-objective”.
Any successful business has a clear mission statement. The mission statement should reflect how you want to be of service to others and what you feel might be missing in the world. Just like in acting when we place our attention on “the other” it draws attention away from our own ego and gives us something to pursue-something active. Take the hero’s approach to your career and your life.
Stumped? Follow these guiding questions to help fine-tune your mission statement.
1) How would you like for others to see you? What words would you like to be affiliated with; Integrity, courageous, creative, influencer, pioneer are just a few to get your creative juices flowing. Utilize positive action words to help spark your imagination as well; elevate, inspire, empower, encourage.
2) Ask the 90-year-old you. That person has a lot of wisdom and insight to share. More than likely they’ll tell you a few things and help you make decisions without parameters or fears getting in the way. They’ll probably tell you to “just do it!”
Story: It was always a desire of mine to be a go-go dancer. Yep, a stripper on a bar pole. So in 2008 just before I moved back to New York for the NY run of my one-man show, I said yes to an offer to be a go-go dancer at a bar in LA called MJ’s. I danced for 1 or 2 nights a week for about 5 months. My concerns prior to doing it were “would this negatively impact my career”, “what would people say”, etc… I wanted to express myself through the body, I wanted to connect with my sensual side and I thought it would be an incredible human behavior study. I didn’t necessarily need the money, and it wasn’t for attention or validation in any way. So with the concerns in my mind, I asked my 90-year-old me “what would he do?”. The answer was simple. My 90-year-old me said “go dance I would love to be able to do that now and have your 30-year-old body again to do it in.” Result: It was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life.
3) What bothers me about the current world order? What can I do inside my career of choice and life to make things better for myself and others?
4) Ask “WHAT DO I WANT” and then BE THAT? “I want a world of compassion, unity, and generosity. Once I “BE” that, then that is what I ultimately source and it also becomes, in large part, my perspective of the world.
Write and don’t judge. Just write out a list of positive attributes and merge them into a concise 3-4-line statement.
VISION STATEMENT- This is to be kept simple. Mine is “ I AM COMMITTED TO CREATING GLOBAL UNITY” then the..
MISSION STATEMENT becomes the anticipated mechanism for which you would like to accomplish that vision. “Through storytelling, mentorship, and public appearances”.
(Side note: these mechanics are just some of the possibilities in which you’ll create your vision. We must be open to other possibilities and be consistent in our VISION).
Having this clarity and vision is very beneficial in times where we feel limited, discouraged, or thrown against a wall. Just remind yourself of your vision statement and BE in that vision. Ask, “am I BEING in a way, right now, that moves me toward that vision?”.
Post this vision/ mission statement on the dashboard of your car, on your bathroom mirror, at the top of your calendar. Refer to it when you’re feeling down, lost or unsure of what to “do” and remind yourself that it’s not necessarily about the “doing”… it is about the “Being”
Observe: Uta Hagen states that “actors are observers of the human condition.” I take that a step further by claiming that we are observers and interpreters of the human condition. Engage all of your senses and take time out of each day to just be present, notice the smallest of details in the flavor of an orange, the colors of a flower, the behavior of an insect, the infinite sounds around you, or the smells of dirt or jasmine.
In today’s world, our observational skills are in jeopardy due to the amount of time we spend looking at our phones, listening to the radio, or watching TV. Take time out of each day to just observe other people. Don’t judge it… just observe with superhuman attention. This will not only make you a much stronger actor, writer, director, storyteller… it will also make you a better human.
“We must overcome the notion that we must be regular… it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre.” ― Uta Hagen
Love the Lull: This is a big one! The ups and downs of an artist’s life can be pretty soul-wrenching and spiritually depleting. The lull is essential to your growth and personal health.
Imagine you are cast in a role at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Your rehearsal is about 6 hours a day for four weeks then the run of the show is 8 weeks long. Your entire schedule is consumed by this amazing and wonderful opportunity. Meanwhile, a film that you star in premieres and releases just as the play opens up for previews AND you have a juicy guest star appearance on a highly successful television show premiering the same weekend. Oh, and yea… at this point you forgot you had a commercial agent and they call you for a last-minute audition in Santa Monica. You’re making the festival circuits. The commercial agent calls and you booked that commercial that will shoot in Hawaii for a week, “A week?”. You have to turn it down because you’ve committed to the play, bummer. UGH! But YAY!!
You then book a role for a lead in another feature! “Oh… this is it I am riding high! THIS FEELS GOOD!! “ and you’re busy busy busy for months or even years. You slap yourself in the face while you pat yourself on the back all while slowly making your way through LA traffic to Soho House, exalting life’s gifts that you have worked so hard to bring into your reality. You end up on the cover of LATIMES CALANDER section 2 months in a row for different projects. The year ahead consists of traveling around the world as an invited festival guest, public speaker, and film juror. WOW!!! It all begins with a Vision.
Fast forward – two months later. No calls, no booking, no love from the agent, no work. AGGGHHHHH!!! Okay, it’s okay! Calm down! Look around you! Notice that your energy is low, your diet may not have been what it should have been. While you were busy, you’ve neglected your relationships, you’ve forgotten to call mom, and you haven’t stopped for a second to take inventory. This is the perfect time to go camping.
This lull is worthy of love. This is the time to express gratitude, reassess your next objective, or master that guitar, piano, or foreign language. Write that book, or do nothing. Get back into an acting class, volunteer, nurture yourself, take a yoga or martial arts class, travel, go camping, settle into this “lull period” absorb some nutrition because soon, you’ll be flying high again! Keep walking but trust that this lull is prepping you for whatever waits around the corner.
Enthusiasm: A positive and enthusiastic attitude is contagious. You can invigorate yourself by nurturing your body through a new yoga or meditation routine. Learn to love that Kale and Turmeric and get rid of those processed foods. We have two voices inside of us; the brain, which only “knows” past and future (both only perspectives and not all-together truths), and our heart or “gut feeling”. These two need to find harmony with one another. It often helps to be in service to others to make you feel really good about yourself. Reach out to a friend that is struggling to finance a project and volunteer your time to PA on set. Ask others how you can help them and it will come back tenfold, perhaps not directly from the person you helped but I assure you it will. Additionally, do not ex[pect a return. These expectations on generosity are heavy burdened, and they do not serve us. See my BLOG on GENEROSITY as a reminder. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Do things for people and expect nothing in return, but do… and I repeat do uphold your standards and self-worth.
Nurture Self: You see a running theme here right? It all comes down to who you are BEING. We can not give generously to others without nurturing ourselves and loving all aspects of ourselves. The next step is to nurture others, support, listen, and cultivate authentic relationships.
Learn: Being an actor, writer, or director means that we must have a vast array of knowledge in a lot of different fields. Every role comes with yet another set of necessary skills. This is thrilling! We get to learn a little bit about a lot of stuff. We may be asked to ride a horse, use a weapon, fight in a prison cell, speak with authority in a hospital setting, or interpret real-life personalities. The more we know, the more prepared we are for these roles. You should be reading biographies, watching documentaries, reading multiple scripts per week, stay up to date on industry and world news. Take a personal inventory. Find an author or filmmaker that inspires you and absorb all you can from their life. This will not only prepare you will also make you more open to new opportunities.
Awareness / Compassion: Marlon Brando comes to mind- one of the most compassionate and aware talents that ever dominated the stage and screen. He absorbed human behavior like no other actor preceding him. Being aware of others around you without asserting judgment on them allows you to begin the process of justifying their circumstances. Instead of stating “That person is weird” ask yourself “why?” We can learn a great deal from the behaviors of others and by tuning in and putting ourselves in their shoes, you will, in time, be able to take on that behavior and it may even inspire a story or influence a character you are assigned to play. In any case, it makes you a better and stronger human being.
Visualize– From the big broad picture of how we wish our life circumstances to be to the immediate desire of “booking the room” at an audition, visualization is the key to success. Imagine yourself where you would like to be, utilize all of your senses, be specific with smells, feelings, sounds, imagery. Are other people laughing and filled with joy? Are you a powerful leader in the room? What are you wearing, eating, where are you sitting? How do people greet you? Make use of a vision board. I assure you that this works and it’s empowering to put yourself there. This visualization work is also essential in developing a character. It is a necessary function in the world of acting.
Admittance/ Acknowledgement– Begin NOW to admit your life experiences, all things “good and bad” are really “Neutral”. These are elements of our lives that may feel shameful or that we are frightened to admit. But they are part of our story, and ours alone. These events and experiences make us who we are. While acting class is not meant for therapy, and even if your acting teacher is a therapist the classroom is no place to seek therapeutic counsel. However, we are fortunate that we live in a society where there are resources available to you. Healing is necessary for you to lay claim to these rich and powerful aspects of yourself. These experiences are what make us unique. The more we accept them,m the more we own them, the more we can draw upon them in our work. The more power we give as being a victim to them the less freedom we have. When we own them and are responsible for them the more courageous our performances become, and most importantly the freer a life we can live on and off stage.
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Polonius- William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
(A good piece of advice from one of Shakespeare’s most pompous and ultimately unlikable of characters. Yet good advice can come from anywhere or anyone as long as we listen to the message rather than judging the messenger.)