Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Childlike vs Childish.

A few weekends ago, I attended one of VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival)'s red carpet events with some of the cast and writer, Nick Willing, of Olympus. In my hurry to pack, before coming out here to film, I had neglected to bring any of my prized dress clothes, my freakum suit, if you will. Between my lack of clothing options and having been denied a haircut, I had to make the best of the situation and try to SLAY in my converse, Beatles wannabe/Justin Bieber mop and paisley tie.

I met someone I admired that night and was excited by the opportunity to ask them specific questions, but instead of listening to my questions they bombarded me with their rehearsed bit of "advice". Instead of us truly connecting and perhaps developing a mentorship, I walked away disappointed and embarrassed that I had ever put them on such a pedestal. Upon returning to my fellow cast mates I was reminded by them to never become that kind of person and always strive to make real connections with fans, and people who look up to me as an artist. It cemented for me how there is a large portion of this industry that is looking for meaning in their life through success and fame, that their person is defined by the amount of people who know them. They lose sight of the work, and forget what they are fighting for (if anything).

Nick Willing, Sonita Henry and I spent the day together on Sunday and the two of them really got me thinking about what it is that has drawn me to this profession. What is it that I'm truly fighting for in life, beyond the stage, beyond the camera, what is it that makes my heart beat? Nick spoke about how we are hunting for the things that give us meaning and once we find what those are it is relatively easy to achieve them. The issue, or hard part, lies in the fact that we spend so much time distracting ourselves from what we truly want, we settle for what we think is comparable, or just completely deny our dreams altogether.

When I skyped with my good friend, Lisa, I mediated on this idea with her, "What exactly do I want?" I concluded, for now, that I'm looking for complete empathy for the human race. I want to understand how I operate, how others operate, what makes people tick and why we do the things we do. I want to have the ability to show people themselves, humanity, and what they could be if they also fought for what they love. 

Over the last few weeks I have had moments where I've noticed how childlike this whole situation (acting) is; Here we are, dressing in costumes, playing on a set that had been constructed for our imaginary world to exist in, while others were trained how to capture our moments of pretending; it's professional child's play. And I'm paid to do it. When I reduce it down to that rationalization it becomes so much less grand, it brings me back to playing Digimon with my brother on the front lawn; the worlds we created, the characters we played, the lives we lived in those few hours between after school and supper time. It suddenly became demystified. Acting really is having the imagination of a child, while impressing it on adult situations.

To quote the Bible, "Be childlike, not childish." - Luke 7:31-5

This realization may seem obvious or rudimentary, but it's so easy to let acting become cerebral and revolve around wit and trickery, when in reality, it's corporeal and honest. When one sees a child truly feeling something, one is there with them. We are forced to be present with that child because the stakes for them are so high. This is what I'm hunting for, that effortless call upon my emotions, honestly, the bravery to look anything but attractive. There are obviously schools of thought that believe acting can be broken down into steps, but really, I'm discovering that it's just the opening of ones mind, breaking down walls and reclaiming that sense of play we all had as a child.

Lisa also spoke about bringing this childlike bravery to auditions and letting them be fun, and simply a chance to play rather than seeing them as this massive, career-defining thing. If I can go in and truly see these casting directors in their underwear, so to speak, then it adds humour and allows me to release the pressures that I'm fabricating in my adult brain, "I need this job, I need this money, I hate my Joe job, save me from the seventh level of Hell that is customer service, etc."

By letting childish tenancies into the work, one takes away from the process. By letting ones emotions and personal insecurities into the work, at any level, one takes away from the world that the brave are creating. One has to learn how to interact and maintain the work with a childlike innocence and play, while still dealing with the world as an adult. It's a balance that I'm determined to find. 

Being at that event solidified how many childish: self-interested, vain, rude, narcissistic, and shallow people there are in this industry.

My fight for ultimate empathy requires me to treat everyone with respect; myself included, and stay true to my dream, regardless of how they treat me. I cannot afford to let myself get bogged down or be self-depreciating, the longer I entertain those ideas the further away I get from my goals and the more power I give them in dictating my life. 

When we are born into this world we don't know what fear is, we are open, malleable vessels who only know how to love. For me, getting back to this place is the ultimate.