One of my first blog posts entitled “Woman, You Are Beautiful” lists many descriptive words I might use to identify myself at a given moment. I might be a your friend, your sister, a graphic designer, a classmate – I might even be considered an artist, a performer or an actor. I kind-of, really like the last three. I’m a big believer that you aren’t what you do – but I also have a strong attachment to the notion that you should do what you love. I love the arts – I love singing, writing, drawing and I love acting. I love telling stories that move people, stories that allow humans to connect. Being an artist is quite often a solitary profession but an artist needs a stage, a canvas, collaborators and an audience. I’ve seen some of New York’s finest musicians & singer/songwriters playing the subways. If you ask me, playing in the dirty railways is probably a lot more gratifying than playing to the empty walls of your apartment.
The internet is an interesting place, there’s a lot of content on this thing! My greatest appreciation for the internet is the very same reason I love the arts – it allows humans to connect. It also provides a free stage, canvas and gallery to artists. This internet “thingy” gives me a place to share my thoughts, little ideas and creations that would otherwise stay locked in my sketch book, hidden on a DVD or lost in some dark place in lower Manhattan that used to be a church and is now a soup kitchen and a theatre…
I always enjoy getting my new Actor’s Equity card in the mail after I pay my dues because the association sends it along with a neat quote. Here’s a favorite (by Robert Prosky) I’ve held onto for awhile:
“I love Actors and by extension, the theater. I love the minutia that surrounds them both. I love listening and telling Green Room war stories. I love the onstage triumphs and yes, I love even the disasters. I love the adrenaline that shoots thru every Actor onstage when something goes wrong, and the relief that sweeps thru when some heroic Actor saves the day. I love performance. That time when the human beings onstage interact with the human beings in the audience and together they create the event of performance. It’s one of life’s most civilized experiences.
It has been said that an Actor must have the hide of a rhinoceros, the courage and audacity of a lion, and most importantly, the fragile vulnerability of an egg. It also has been said, and I’m not sure by whom, that the moment of not knowing is the moment that has the greatest potential for creativity. The professional and private lives of most Actors are filled to the brim with moments of not knowing. Actors are survivors and will continue to strive because they have the need to celebrate, in performance, that sacred communion between Actor and audience.” – Robert Prosky (1930-2008)
I’ve sometimes called it an addiction – this drive to connect, to tell stories, to move people. I say addiction because for no other sane reason would a person continue this lifestyle! I like what Jane Lynch said in her Emmy acceptance speech this year. She said that we are compelled to do it, that we have no other choice (and she says, ‘marketable skills’ which is clearly a joke!) But that’s what it’s about; it’s not about the money. My gosh, if you want to find a highly motivated, educated, cultured, well-spoken group of people who know how to live life on a dime and make something magical with it, find the artists! Not all actors are as well dressed as the ones you see in PEOPLE magazine. It’s not about that. (It’s not about depravity either.) I’m just saying that I don’t know if there’s any other industry where people willingly and passionately work for free. (Aside from volunteering that is.) I’m not quite sure what an accountant would say if you told them, “I’d like you to do my taxes. There’s no pay, but I’ll provide you with a meal and a copy of the returns for your use.” Does this sound funny to you?! This is what most actors get for payment on their jobs – a meal (if they’re lucky) and a copy of the DVD (if it’s a film project,) or the chance to invite a few friends and industry people to see them perform. So why do they do it? Why do I do it? Because I love it.
Do what you love. Know that you are not what you do, but by doing what you love your life will have purpose. If you fill your inner well by doing the things you’re passionate about, you will have much to give.
I believe God is an artist. All of you, beautiful people were created by no mistake. The colors of the leaves, the texture of the grass, the sound of the wind… it’s all a masterful creation. I also tend to think that we’re all artists ourselves. Some of us are the ‘insane’ ones who follow it as a profession, others share their artistry in other ways: through friendships, thoughtful gifts, waxing the car, planting a garden, cooking, the list goes on. I’m thankful that through art and creativity humans can connect. Borders and differences easily disappear through music and story. It’s that very god-like art that washes away those titles I was talking about earlier and makes us all very, apparently unified/of the same thread and connected.
Save the arts in our schools!