I had this lovely realization today…That every character I have ever played (whether in a workshop environment or professionally) has come to me at a time when I most needed them. I am a firm believer that “you can’t always get what you want…but you get what you need” at a particular time. It isn’t about playing the glamorous characters. It isn’t about playing a lead role in every production. As they say: “there are no small roles, just small actors.”
For example: when I auditioned for ‘the Women’ almost two years ago, I had my heart set on playing Mary. Not because she was the lead, but because this woman was intensely loyal and devoted and was betrayed by her husband. At the time I was going through a difficult separation from a lover, sharing those similar feelings. My mentor told me I was “too sexy” to play Mary. She wanted me to play Crystal–the other woman. Crystal was blonde, sexually confident, and nearly the antithesis of how I saw myself.
I was not comfortable with my sexuality, at all. In fact I was rather shy and insecure. However, my facilitator saw in me what I could not see in myself: that it was the area in which I needed to grow. I wore a platinum wig, and took on her sultry self empowered presence. I discovered her voice, her walk, her tastes, her mannerisms. Crystal forced me to become comfortable with my body (as I had to strip my clothes off to my lingerie, and also sit half naked in a bath tub in front of the audience) and my sexuality. I had to develop confidence, ambition and cunning. Crystal valued herself, and what Crystal wants–Crystal gets.
When I played Dorothy in speakeasy, she forced me to confront my issues with alcoholism, with rejection, with aging, and issues with the opposite sex. Dorothy was a huge mirror for me at that time. I recognized uncomfortable aspects of myself that I had never seen before. I became conscious of my self destructive nature and saw it clearly from an outsiders perspective. Also she taught me to have a sense of humor about it all. To release my inhibitions.
When I played Suzy in Wait Until Dark… She taught me not to be a victim. I always struggled with this “victim” identity (which I inherited from my father). She taught me to be a fighter, a survivor.
Playing a pinhead in the Elephant Man has taught me to tap in to my senses. To connect with my ID. To notice the juice dribbling down my hands…to relish licking it up as a child… To operate off of the base instincts that we as human beings have learned to ignore since infancy. We lose sight of the details as our experience is layered in life. We forget the simplicity.
Princess Alexandra has taught me to be charming and more graceful. I always wanted to play a princess since I was a little girl, and my wish was finally granted. My British RP was sharpened, my posture improved, and I learned to carry myself with pride and dignity. Also playing multiple characters has been an interesting task in itself. Though my part is smaller in this show, I learned to take every single character seriously. To give the same life, spirit, and depth regardless of how big or small the role.
Babe (crimes of the heart) forced me to deal with my suicidal tendencies and my difficulty standing up for myself, particularly to a lover (for fear of abandonment).
Laveer (long time since yesterday) came into my life when my best friend had seriously attempted suicide. Laveer lost a friend to suicide, and she helped me deal with my anger about that…the list goes on and on.
When you are learning to become someone else, you discover parallels from life. It is such a fascinating process…discovering a character and watching them come to life. My journey has only just begun with this art form. I still have so much to learn, so much more life to experience before I can call myself a true “actor”. All life is a case study. The research and discovery never end. There are a few prospects on the horizon… Excited and curious as to what valuable life lessons are in store for me next.
I hope you are all living a life that inspires you every day. Listen to your heart, and do what you dream. Oceans of love