There was laughing, crying, stretching, reading, observing, tongue twisting, heavy breathing, hugging, eye contact, movement, stillness, storytelling and most of all, a lot of healthy inner (and outer) frustration. Erm, I mean, growth.
When I decided to take a Fundamentals of Acting class at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio in September, I knew the ride was going to be wild and spiritual. Throughout the 12 week course we met once a week for 3 hours; not including mandatory partner rehearsals in between.
Way before I moved to Hollywood in the fall of 2015, I already knew that acting was a passion I wanted to professionally pursue once I got to the land of lala. I’ve always loved being on camera, I love the attention, I just….love it. I genuinely do. But with love comes sacrifice, and with sacrifice comes learning a lot about yourself and others.
TOP 5 THINGS I LEARNED:
1. Really do what you’re doing for real, really.
This is actually the studio slogan. No faking it. No pantomiming. Really do what you’re doing, for real. If your part in a script calls for romance, you better figure out how to GIVE YOUR PARTNER A BOUNTY OF LOVE AND EMOTION on a level that is both real to you and your audience. This takes preparation and connecting to circumstances of your own – which stems from techniques such as Meisner and Method acting. There are so many other leaders in the industry that have made themselves known for their approach to the art of acting, such as these.
2. The gifts of sensitivity and empathy are precious.
I used to think being a highly sensitive person was a character flaw. I’ve always felt embarrassed for having so many emotions…Many moons of randomly crying during the middle of work when someone tells a sad story, or seeing on Facebook that a stranger’s dog had died, or any alarming news on social media for that matter. But through this class I’ve learned that it’s TOTALLY OKAY to feel all the feels; as long as you’re not letting your emotions control you. Cry. Feel it! This is your right as a human. Take it in, and let that shit goooooo. Make use of pent up tenderness for the purpose of artistic expression.
3. Don’t be so extra.
This one hurt, dude. Sometimes you question whether the adjustments you’re making will directly communicate to the audience the way you want them to. Example: During a performance I thought it would add to my scene to bring a bag of real knifes (not butter knives), play Trina’s “Da Baddest Bitch”, paired with a car horn soundbed app, as I drank fake wine out of the bottle, had two sets of hoop earrings in…all while doing a Jersey accent. In my head I thought I was just being an exemplary student – but to an audience, it was just…confusing. And very distracting. So, some self advice: Don’t over act. Showing yourself off takes you away from the art of the realm of living.
4. The pinch and the ouch.
It’s pretty simple: You get pinched, you say “ouch”. Meaning, don’t do or say something unless something or someone makes you do it. I was called out for moving too much. But what made me do it? I didn’t have an answer other than “I was nervous”. Once I was aware I was moving without purpose, I cut that shit out and now am more mindful (in everyday life as well!) not to move unless there is something making me do it, with purpose.
5. Stop trying to be perfect.
I didn’t know I came off as this type of person until one day I was yelled at (again) for correcting someone I was depending on during a warm-up game of Categories. Without going into too much detail, our teacher advised me to ‘cut that shit out’ as I psychically and literally shook it off. “No, really, get rid of it. I mean it.” Moral of the story here is to never not have fun. Wether it be you’re depending on your partner in a game or in performance, just have fun and roll with what you’re given. Improv at it’s finest! Everybody wins. And what a great learning lesson, from me fucking up the flow…
With that being said, here is my final performance. I was a fed up, unhappy wife of 2 years, married to an emotionally abusive and clueless husband and finally get the divorce I’ve been wanting:
Clearly I’m the next Emma Stone.
To conclude, there also were students in the class who didn’t even really want to become and actor – they took the course to better understand themselves, to better their directing, to come out of their shells, ect. Which I thought was super interesting, creative and brave. I 100000% encourage everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and take a local acting class. You won’t regret it.