When [Actor-Writer-Director Greta Gerwig] finished the writing of ‘Lady Bird’ in 2015, she knew she had to direct it herself. “I thought, Yes, there is more to learn, but you are not going to keep learning it by not doing it. You will only now learn the next part if you go ahead and do it.”
– NY Times, Greta Gerwig’s Radical Confidence
These images are from MUSCLE, a short film I directed recently.
This film was initiated by an Actress-Alumna.
For forever and a day, I have long been an advocate of Actors creating their own work. I had to face years in my classes of actors looking at me like I was crazzzzzy-talking. But, I knew it in my bones that this is where the real self-empowerment lies.
As a Director creating my own opportunities, I understand the importance of being the engine behind your own career. And, I understand very deeply the many reasons one might hesitate to do it. Because I face the challenge myself as an artist, I love to rally for actors to break through any fears that may be stalling you. (And why I started my new workshop Actors As Creators.)
So… this Blog is for any actor who is considering DOING it… but wonders if YOU are the one to do it.
Almost every day a new story comes out about Actors who are taking the reins in their creative careers and creating films, TV/web series, podcasts, books, you name it.
I particularly love Greta Gerwig’s description of reaching that moment when you just know that YOU are the one to do it.
This actress just HAD to direct her own film herself.
At some point, one realizes…I am the one to tell this story.
- You are the only one who cares about your career so much.
- You are the only one who cares about your story so much.
- You are the only one who lived this particular experience, because no one else lives your life except for you!
You are the only one to tell this story.
It took me a few years to realize that we don’t even have to guard our stories so fiercely (everyone is always worried about ideas being stolen) because in the end… actually… the only person who can tell the story the way that you can tell it is YOU.
Stay focused on “it’s my story to tell” and then you will be really able (and eager) to take the next steps to make it actually happen.
Once you embrace that it is your story to tell, then the rest follows.
The HOW of telling your story will become obvious.
Simply because you can’t not tell your story, you will figure out how to tell it.
Don’t get stalled by worrying about how you will execute it. That will follow once you know your story and your personal attachment to it.
In my new workshop Actors As Creators, which is designed specifically for Actors to open up your passion for storytelling, Johnny Sanchez (co-teacher/writer/actor/producer) and I spend valuable time in Day 1 asking actors to tap into articulating your WHY as an artist before even touching the logistics of HOW to make it.
Without knowing your purpose, your intention as an artist, it can feel particularly hard to create work. So we start with these two questions to build your confidence to be able to DO IT…
- What inspires you to be an artist?
- What is your story to tell?
The first step to creating your own work is deeper than simply learning the “logistics”, although the skills do help and are necessary, but really truly it must ALL start with a personal understanding of why you want to create your own work.
The act of creating your own work is a deeply personal journey.
One that Johnny and I have walked ourselves on our feature film for many years, and continue to walk on new projects.
Without having that deep knowing that “this is my story to tell”, Johnny and I would have given up a long time ago on our own dreams of having our say as artists. We keep that sense of purpose churning inside of us as we face the daily challenges of creating our own work. It’s what keeps us going.
Learn about your purpose as an artist.
Ask the deeper questions.
And the rest will follow.
Working from a deep knowing that YOU are the person to tell the story, you can create AMAZING work.
–> Interested in becoming an actor-creator? Join us in an upcoming workshop filled with inspired artists. It gives me great, deep joy to offer this creative space to actors. Details here.