Tag Archives: Acting

An Artist’s Address: The Fear

A fellow actor once told me that whether Hollywood would make or break you came down to two things: fear and love. He explained this to me as we sat in his car on a swelteringly hot day, bang in the middle of moving house (artists are renowned for all sorts of movements).

The fact that this person had lied about his relationship situation, his reasons for relocating from LA to the UK, and virtually all of his film experience to date – that came to light later. But, in the strange and amusing experiences we have with one another in this sharing we call life, all of us bring blessings and curses, and from him, this was one of many gifts.

You will hear artists talking about many different things: their art (of course), money, the business, the recession, friends, art, fun, festivals, beer, family, meeting kindred spirits at dawn and seeing the sunrise of a new day together – millions of things really, but rarely do they mention their fear. Hardly ever do we sit and openly discuss how hard it is to stick with a profession over which you have no control, besides making sure you always show up to castings prepared, are always grateful, and always, always choose the job over everything else.

The truth is that as an actress, when I try out for a job, I’ll only ever hear back IF I’m successful. After one particular casting for a very well-known brand, I was asked to wait for callbacks with another actress (now a friend) in a nearby café. Not wanting to appear demanding, we waited patiently to be called, until finally, at 5pm we broke and phoned the office, only to be told that the casting directors had left for the day!

In an environment where only the best or most well-known are called upon, nearly every single day is like living inside a pressure cooker. Eventually, we all succumb to some sort of fear, and this escapes each of us differently. I have decided to refrain from describing how anyone else’s fear manifests. For me, it comes in my dreams, through endless nights when I send my closest friends messages, during long phone conversations, and once every few months, when I go out on the tear.

If you have Irish heritage, you’ll know going on the tear (or the lash) means getting inebriated; we do it when life overwhelms us, as a kind of catharsis. We feel everything very deeply, sometimes too much so, and when that happens, we go out for the craic!

The latest was a tequila-drenched evening with a too-sober friend in Los Angeles (yes, I’m back for take two). I misread her annoyance at my drunkenness as a sign that she didn’t want me to live with her anymore. It was the release of a deep-seated worry, which I’d had for some time; what if I lose my way and fall off the edge of opportunity and possibility and into the side streets of despair? What if nobody catches me? This was my fear, exacerbated by the loss of many things that had previously given me security.

You know what happened afterwards though? We got closer as friends, and I was able to recognise and understand my fears and weaknesses better, and love myself more as I came to accept them. All of this time I was trying to avoid this particular fear, but now I can use it to take charge and head full storm towards the horizon ahead. Come with me! Let’s all let go of “the fear”, realise we are only here for a short time, and just ride the waves, instead of ducking and hiding each time one breaks, totally missing the wonderful view from above.

If there’s one thing I am leaving behind me with each wonderful experience as an artist, it is the fear. I don’t even care about it anymore. Give me trust and love, truth and freedom! Bring me joy and happiness! Bring me movies with characters I am excited to portray; let me act on tv series; bring me roles in commercials that are fun, that introduce me to great people at the top of their game.

Let me experience nothing but the gratitude and wonder of being able to live my life, hanging out only with those I adore, love and enjoy, and let my dreams coming true mark the relinquishing of the troubles, frustrations, and fears from my past!

Out with the old, in with the new, or to give one of my all-time favorite quotes:

“For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning, and is refreshed.” (Khalil Gibran)

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An Artist’s Address: The L.A. Experience

We get off our Air New Zealand flight still half asleep, our movement sustained by excitement and filled with anticipation at the thought of being in this Mecca for film stars. Finally, we are here, and it feels every bit as beautiful as I anticipated. Even the fact that I left my phone on the plane is given meaning by my lack of distraction whilst in that city. At the security gates, the elderly man checks and stamps my passport. He smiles gently and tells me, three times, “Be careful”. Already, I have a sense that the people of this city will mind me, want to preserve my spirit, and look after me.

I am smiling as we leave the airport and step onto a street buzzing with lights and lanes of traffic filled with cars going in the opposite direction to which I am used. People speak softly, yet are not afraid to ask me to move out of their way. The sometimes abrupt expressions of passersby contrast to English politeness in ways that make me smile. (I have always been partial to cultural difference, and the sense of absolute newness of each country I visit is exciting to me).

Credit: flickr - Gilad Rom
Credit: flickr – Gilad Rom

To say we were exhausted during our drive home might be an understatement, but it was a positive feeling, and it gave birth to many great experiences afterwards.

The first morning: We go to an Italian breakfast house where they serve pancakes, some laden with cream and sweet treats, others with savoury items such as bacon. I choose the oatmeal and am wondering whether it’s genetically modified. It tastes good, yet my thoughts highlight how effectively my Facebook news feed has brainwashed me to deem America the land of genetically modified foods. I giggle to myself. That perceptual bubble bursts throughout the trip, and I am introduced to one healthy eating trend after another. Even their frozen yoghurt stores are low fat and often homemade.

The next day, while shopping in “TJ MAXX”, I find myself eavesdropping on an actress who believes her three castings this week has made it a quiet one! For me, this is busy, and I am exhilarated at the thought of this happening to me. I sense the lack of awareness in my exhilaration, and this is again indicative of how much more may be happening in L.A. for actors than in London. I can only hope that should I get signed by an agent here, this same story will come true for me! The possibility of this happening makes me feel good, that there is that chance – no matter how great or small. Of course, the truth is that the standards here are probably quite different to London’s, especially given its orientation towards film, whereas London has a culture rich in theatre. Beyond that, one cannot truly know what possibilities may arise should one get an agent in L.A., unless and until that happens.

We head out in West Hollywood for dinner, then hit a club called The Abbey. The club has a cosmopolitan feel, kind of like a mix between Ibiza and Berlin with something extra, and most of the people whom I encounter are friendly and chatty. Clubs don’t usually stay open later that 2am or 3am, so we aren’t worried about overdoing it — again, adding to the charm of the place. I have the feeling that in summer, house parties, barbecues, and beach time frolics are all the rage. This night, though, it is all about having some chilled out fun, in a pretty club filled to the brim with happy people having a good time!

We are lucky enough to be staying quite close to the beach in Santa Monica, so walks along the pier and beach are welcome breaks to city life. There is only one day when the sun is hot enough to tan my skin, but, unlike a typical sun holiday, this beach does not make me want to sunbathe. Rather, it has me people-watching and chilling out to the sights and sounds of families walking, swimming, and playing and groups of friends chatting and rollerblading down the paths together. I find myself staring into the water as the waves broke, and feeling absolutely at home.

Credit: flickr - Marika Bortolami
Credit: flickr – Marika Bortolami

I am a great believer in the natural rhythm of life, especially that of an artist’s, and in following your feelings as they unravel and guide your soul towards its path. I remain grateful to Los Angeles for its treatment of me, how happy it made me, and the opportunities it presented. It remains to be seen whether this city will be more to me than a place to visit, and I am excited at the prospect and possibility of learning more in the interim. No matter what the outcome of my L.A. adventures, I remain grateful for our introduction, and shall be forever.