I can't watch myself perform.
I've tried. I've tried to attend premieres, edit my reel, or watch back auditions. I just can't.
I remember the first time I heard playback on set. We had just cut, and I was walking back to my one. All of a sudden, I heard my voice via playback over one of the monitors, and my legs literally gave out. My knees crumbled. I turned into a little ball.
Of course, I tried to coolly play this off (I don't think I did a good job of playing "cool").
Plenty of actors share this sentiment: Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon, Johnny, Depp, Joaquin Phoenix, Julianne Moore--they've all admitted that watching their performances is just too rough of an experience.
And this is also something I often hear from students. It is the same, yet different. It sounds something like this:
"I know where I want to be with my work. But I'm not there, yet, and it frustrates me endlessly. I get notes from teachers and directors and coaches...and all the notes make sense. I know exactly why I got that note. But I don't how to apply it. I'm not yet the actor I want to be. How do I fix this?"
It's enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall, isn't it?
Well, I have some good news: you aren't alone.
The fact that you are going through this is just a sign that you're growing. You're awareness is growing. Your taste level is improving.
Put another way: As soon as you think, oh ya, I've got it, I know it all...you don't. Chances are, you suck.
Ira Glass, the host of This American Life (which is on my favorite podcast list, here), has a beautiful quote about this exact thing:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Keep working. Don't be afraid to suck. You will suck. But you'll also close the gap.
Remember: you learn more from failing than you do from excelling.
Tools and Resources
You are probably wondering this blog is about. Well, it's about anything that everything that I find inspiring, helpful, and curiosity building.
Curiosity is my favorite state of being, and I've become a treasure hunter and a trash hoarder, collecting all sorts of articles, artwork, and accessories that fuel my inspiration and creativity.
This will also be a place for me to document my life as an actor and coach in Los Angeles. If performing is your passion, I hope that this blog becomes a place for you to learn from my mistakes, grow from my accomplishments, laugh at my witless choices, and share in this crazy, unpredictable, beautiful, life in the arts.