CD/Writer/Teacher Risa Bramon Garcia Honors Actors

Actors inspire not only by bringing meaningful stories to life, but also by living their lives fully, with creativity, patience, hope, and determination. Casting director, writer, and teacher Risa Bramon Garcia has articulated this beautifully her article "15 Things Actors Do That Make Me Happy," appearing in the 1/31/13 issue of Backstage.

So, today's blog entry is short and sweet. Go read: http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/backstage-experts/15-things-actors-do-make-me-happy/

The Daily Process

I have a dear, dear friend whose mother passed away, unexpectedly and recently. My friend shared with me how her perspective has been shifting as she moves through her grief. She no longer believes that things will happen the way she plans them.

This is changing the way she approaches her work. Because she knows in her bones that her long-term plans may never come to fruition, now she works because regardless of what may or may not come of it, she believes the work itself is meaningful.

My fiance has been telling me the same thing for years. I say, "But what if I do all this work, and put in all this effort into my dream, and it never pays off? What if this never turns into a financially sustainable career for me?" our dialogue goes something like this:

Him: But Sarah, why do you really want to be an actor? Me: Well...because I want to share myself authentically and fully, encouraging and supporting others to do the same. Him: Are you doing that now? Me: Yes... Him: Then focus on that. I think you’ll be much happier.

He’s right, of course. The process matters more than any grand scheme. No matter how well I plan or how long I persevere, my financial dreams may never be realized. The real value lies in the work I do daily.

Brighten Someone Else's Day

So, I just received fantastic customer service from a sales person, Natasha. On a whim, I decided to take a moment to appreciate her. So, I asked to be transferred to her manager so I could rave about her friendliness and helpfulness. Her manager was happy to hear the news, and told me that because Natasha gave me fantastic service, she's going to be taken out to lunch, and recognized publicly within the company.

It's little. It's tiny. But I feel fantastic, noticing how simply appreciating other people and sharing my genuine feelings made a difference in someone's day.

When I feel down or lost, I'd like to remember that little moments matter, and that I can bring the joy in.

My Favorite Quotations, Part Two

On trying, instead of doing: "You know what happens when you try to feed the dog? The dog dies." ~Unknown This one's short and sweet. (Or, I guess you could see it as short and brutal).

I've never heard a more succinct, concrete illustration of TAKING ACTION. Don't tell me you're trying to be an actor, writer, singer, journalist. Just be one.

Letting Go - The Last 10%

I used to frustrate the hell out of myself as an actress. Pretty much every time I worked, I hated myself. I'd try harder and harder, and still I wouldn't come near to my own standards. I'd watch my classmates do fantastic work, I'd watch beautiful work on TV and in film, and I'd convince myself I'd never have enough talent, skill, or perseverance for my dream. One day, after I worked in class, my teacher looked me straight in the eye and told me, "Sarah, your problem is not that you don't work hard enough."

My problem was not that I didn't work hard enough? WTF did that mean? And if that was the case, then what was my problem?

Well, it finally dawned on me: My problem was that I wasn't letting go.

Ever since then, I've been opening little by little. It's been about three years now. I journal, I meditate, I talk things through.

Last night, I had an epiphany: I've made a lot of progress...and I'm still holding on tightly to the last 10%. Of EVERYTHING.

The last 10% before I'm a pro-level singer. The last 10% before I release ego when I'm acting. The last 10% before I book my first TV job. I've been holding on to the last 10% of writing this blog - I want to reach out to other actors, so I've been writing, and sort of putting myself out there...but not fully.

These are metaphorical examples, but what really blew my mind is that I've been manifesting this literally, too. I'm holding on to the last 10 lbs I want to lose (I'm short, so that's about 10% on me...). I have a goal of earning a certain amount per week in my thrival job. Guess how much I've been earning? ALMOST EXACTLY 10 % LESS THAN MY GOAL!

I believe I do this out of fear. If I hold on to the last 10%, I won't find out what'll really, truly happen if I let go. Sure, I won't fly, and live my wildest dreams, but I also won't be crushed, either. I can tell myself, "Well, when I finally do XYZ, then it'll really happen!" And I can stay in fantasy-land forever.

But I don't want to stay in fantasy-land. I'm ready to begin.

What about you? Are you holding on to a last 10%? How might you let it go?

What Are You Willing to Do Imperfectly?

per·fect/ˈpɜr fɪkt; pərˈfɛkt/ adjective 1. Conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.

2. Entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings.

Hmm. Upon examining the definition of perfection, perfection sounds pretty awful to me. If I were perfect, I'd be inhuman (because humans by nature have flaws and shortcomings), and I'd be contorting myself to fit some ideal type or way.

But imperfect...well, imperfect seems like it has some major advantages, actually.

Being imperfect, I get to be myself. I get to admit when I'm wrong. I get to TAKE ACTION; if I waited until I could be perfect to make a move, I'd never make a move at all. I get to show up more authentically in my acting craft, because actors portray human beings, and human beings are imperfect. I get to love every part of myself, because I don't have to wait until I'm "perfect" (an unattainable ideal) to feel good about me. I get to live my dreams, because in real live, dreams come true imperfectly.

I'm willing to sing, act, write, love myself, love my fiance, support other people, and live imperfectly.

What Did I Do Well, What Didn't I Do As Well, and What Did I Learn?

My passionate and talented acting teacher in San Francisco, Jim Jarrett (http://www.themeisnertechniquestudio.com/), taught my class and me a very important lesson. He told us, after every work session, to ask ourselves, "What did I do well? What didn't I do as well? What did I learn?" These questions were the tenet of self-evaluation he instilled upon us, and I use these questions to this day, not only in my acting work, but in the rest of my life, too.

These questions put my self-criticizing demons to rest. They bring out the wise, dedicated part of me, the part eager to celebrate my successes and learn from my mistakes. They help me keep my work in perspective; it doesn't matter whether I completed an exercise in class, the biggest audition of my life, or a performance in a Broadway play, my work is the same. That work is to ask myself, "what did I do well, what didn't I do as well, and what did I learn."

Creating Opportunities

A couple weeks back, I was doing drop-offs of my reel at several target casting offices. (A drop-off = dropping off material at a casting office personally, instead of mailing it. I decided to do this for a chance to practice dealing with nerves - even though I wasn't going to meet any casting directors or audition this particular day, I still felt nervous because I was headed to offices I'm really excited about. Also, it gave me a chance to learn more about different casting office set-ups, where they're located, etc.) So anyway, there I am, dropping off my reel at the mail room of the studio where Linda Lowy and John Brace cast. I am instructed to place it in a box which currently holds at least twenty other actors' headshots, reels, etc. As I walk back to my car, my brain starts mumbling: "This is so stupid. They get a bazillion submissions. No one in the office is going to watch your reel. Even if they do watch your reel, they really won't care. They meet a bazillion actors. You're wasting your time."

Suddenly, an epiphany hit me: "I'm not wasting time. I'm creating an opportunity."

I'm creating an opportunity.

It reminded me of a poster of Michael Jordan on the wall of my 5th grade classroom. The caption read, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Suddenly, I felt empowered and proud. Sure: maybe they wouldn't watch my reel. But I can guarantee that if I hadn't dropped my reel off, they definitely wouldn't watch it.

I created an opportunity. And I'm going to keep creating opportunities. And someday, they'll pay off in a big way.

What about you? What opportunities have you been creating lately? I'd love to hear about them. Share them in the comments below.

 

Am I an Idealistic Optimist?

Nope. Uh-uh. Not me. Frankly, I'm a grumpy, temperamental lady who always notices what sucks and what could go wrong.

At least, I can be.

Personally, I've been choosing to make a change. A day throws endless amounts of data at me. I get to choose how to interpret that data. Before, I'd interpret it subconsciously, and I'd often interpret the data in a way that, to put it succinctly, went something like, "This blows." So, I was pretty darn unhappy, regularly.

I began to learn how to question the stories I'd tell myself. For example, let's say I'm in acting class, and my work falls short of  where I wanted it to be. I used to interpret this to mean "I suck, I'll never succeed, I'm clearly not talented enough; anyone talented enough to make acting a career would have done this scene better." (And, man, I watch my fellow actors do this. Constantly). Or, I could interpret it to mean that I did my job as an actor today, because I took a big enough risk to fail, which means I get to learn, which means I get to grow.

The more I practice questioning and re-framing my own negative stories, the more positive and happy I'm becoming, naturally.

Don't get me wrong: my goal isn't to be positive and happy all the time. It's to be positive and happy more often. Why not be?

What about you? What keeps you truckin'? Are you happy while you're doing it, or are you beating yourself up as you live out your career? Let me know.

Hope In Hollywood: Actor-Specific Inspiration

Dear Hollywood Fellows, I am an actress in Hollywood, and this is what I see: Hollywood can be a dark, disappointing, treacherous, hopeless place.

It can also be juicy, hope-full, creative, inspirational, and fun. I'm here to focus on the "yay."

This blog is a love-letter to the actors and actresses I meet who are passionate, talented, dedicated, beautiful, brave...and losing faith.

Cheers to you.

My Favorite Quotations, Part One

Dear All, In this series of postings, I share with you my favorite quotations, ones that inspire me as an actress, and as a person, too. My aim is two-fold: to introduce you to the philosophies you can expect to see here on this blog, and to pass these inspirations on to you.

And off we go! Enjoy.

"To be nobody but yourself-in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. Does this sound dismal? It isn't. It's the most wonderful life on earth." ~ e.e. cummings

To me, this quotation means risking being who I actually am, even when it's not popular or cool. Even when it means I might be rejected. If I'm not willing to be rejected for who I really am, I can't be accepted for my real self, either. I wouldn't be able to make positive changes in the world based on my deepest, truest, kindest passions. Yes, it's challenging; yes, it requires courage. And, it's worth it for what I gain.