A few years ago, I heard about an acting coach who interviewed aspiring actors and identified their individual character traits. He advised them to use these traits in their acting. For example, if Diane Keaton showed up for an appointment, he might have told her that she has this quirky insecurity that is very cute and appealing. Rather than masking it, in this case, he would recommend that she use this trait in her acting. If Keaton replaced her quirkiness with confidence, where would Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” be? It seems that Keaton has embraced who she is and also built a successful career around it. At the time, I thought it odd that people need someone else to identify their traits. And even more peculiar, needing permission to use it in their acting.
The benefits of knowing who you are go far beyond just being good for your acting career. It also makes for a happier, more fulfilling life. Unfortunately, we have evolved into a society constantly dissatisfied with the way we were born. We are bombarded with media messages to change our faces, teeth, bodies, hair, et al. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for self-growth, and self-improvement, but do we have to morph into someone else in the process? What motivates millions to become a new and improved different version of themselves? I believe it is the need to be liked and accepted. So, how does one learn to accept themselves as they are while making the most of their uniqueness as an actor?
Enter, Lady Gaga. I must admit the first time I saw her performance at the Grammy’s this year, I was mesmerized by her. It wasn’t her edginess that caught my eye, although I must admit, her costumes can outrageously absurd. Rather, it was the message she was touting; to break free and fully embrace who you are. In a Vogue March 2011 interview, she says, “I want for people in the universe, my fans and otherwise, to essentially use me as an escape. I am the jester to the kingdom. I am the route out. I am the excuse to explore your identity. To be exactly who you are and to feel unafraid. To not judge yourself, to not hate yourself. Because, as funny as it is that I am on the cover of Vogue – and no one is laughing harder than I am.” She continues to say that she was the girl in school who everyone made fun of. Lady Gaga is not afraid to explore things about herself which is why she is so successful. She is taking chances instead of hiding who she is, she’s going with it and she’s pushing herself. And everyone is invited along for the ride.
Most people have difficulty accepting themselves. They go through self-blame and many layers of inadequacy before arriving at self-acceptance. Being open and curious about yourself can keep you from losing touch with who you are. Curiosity, it looks very cute on this dog doesn’t it? It’s a state of mind that is open and without judgment. With curiosity, explore how you may have lost touch with embracing who you are. Self-exploration can be a thrilling experience, have fun with it. Think of all the costume changes Lady Gaga goes through on her journey of self-exploration. She’s built a successful career of it and admits, “The mystery and the magic is my art.” The greatest gift you can give yourself and your audience is being who you are. Isn’t that what makes Zach Galifianakis so lovable? He wouldn’t be the same endearing guy if he lost weight and wore a clean shirt.
If you’re suffering from having a 4” person sitting on your shoulder criticizing you every minute and keeping you from breaking free, maybe it’s time to stop and help the little fellow depart. When we have difficulty embracing who we are it means that our life is still defined by a wound from the past. Somewhere we didn’t get the message that we were good enough just as we were. Well, we can’t time travel back into our past and correct it, but we certainly can recognize it now, mourn the loss, and begin to heal. When we turn and face these difficult sides of ourselves, they hold the key to unlock the treasure of who we are. Rather than abandoning yourself to become someone else, work towards embracing who you really are. Take it from Michelangelo, a genius who recognized and created beauty, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Here’s to the journey of releasing the masterpiece you were meant to be.
For more tools on your journey visit my website.
Book suggestion: “Radical Self Acceptance” By Tara Brach
Twitter with me about your journey of self acceptance.
Visit my websitefor further information on self-discovery.
Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. One of her specialties is working with artists in the Entertainment Industry. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice,visit her website.Follow her on Twitter and Facebook
Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.