I was asked this question days before seeing the gorgeous musical “Billy Elliot” for the second time. *spoiler alert* In order for Billy to go to ballet school, he needs bus fare for the audition. Through a series of heart-tugging events, many of the miners in the town chip in to get him there. There is a moment towards the end, when Billy is alone and scared, in the dark, center stage. In an inspired piece of staging by the great director Stephen Daldry – all the cap-light wearing miners shine their beams on Billy and illuminate him in more light than he alone can muster.
So many of us are like Billy in that moment. We carry the light from our families, our friends, and even our ancestors. Many of us are a long way from home here in LA or NY pursuing our dreams. Were it not for those who came before us – struggling, fighting, starving and even giving their lives – we would not have the luxury to embark on our journey of acting.
It also serves us to understand where our fears may be generating from energetically. Where are those negative tapes that replay in our minds stored? In my acting class, we work a lot with the energetic system of the chakras through meditation.
We receive inspiration through our “crown chakra”. We process how to begin the process of bringing our inspiration into physical world reality through our “third eye chakra”. As the ideas become plans we express them out into the world through our “throat chakra”. The plans move into our hearts where we engage our passionate love for them in our “heart chakra”. We personalize and feel our desires in our “solar plexus chakra”. We move these down into our “sexual chakra” to give birth, create, and add ambition and money earning capabilities. Finally, in our “root chakra” we begin to “walk our talk” and make manifest. And that’s how we inhale our dreams. Our exhale begins to show us where we may be blocking ourselves, thereby exhausting our resources and making us “feel like quitting”.
Our exhale begins at the “root” where we can see if we are “walking our talk” and taking action. Are we improving our craft every week? Making sure our representation is aware of our existence? Keeping our pictures up to date, our bodies, minds and spirit in shape…
Moving up to the “sexual” area, which can not only create and give birth, but also abort an intention. Are we leaking out ambition? Not creating the funds necessary to support us as we pursue our dreams?
In the “solar plexus”, are we feeling too much? Are we filled with fear or self doubt that may cripple us in moving forward?
Has our “heart” shut down for not wanting to experience the feeling of rejection? Has our heart been broken one too many times?
Is our “throat” too embarrassed to speak to others our intent of acting? Do we not admit to our friends and associates what we really want, for fear of their judgment, thereby ruling out their ability to assist us?
Have we ceased engaging our “third eye”, our unconscious in being intuitive and trusting our impulses.
And finally, have we forgotten that it is our “crown”, our ability to co-create with Spirit that moves us forward in ways that we never would have anticipated on our own. When we co-create, we are tapping into the universal energy of the miraculous.
More than ever before in the history of civilization, actors have a spotlight and microphone thrust in front of them. When, God-willling, it happens to you… what do you want to say?
Even successfully working actors can get lost in fear when there is no script to support them. I am often called in to assist young stars in “media training”. I don’t give them sound bites, or warn them what “not-to-say”. I inspire them to find out what speaks to their hearts, and encourage them to remember that message when they have to get up at 4 AM for hair and make up to appear on the morning show in Albuquerque. If there is a chance to talk about rescue animals, body image, teen-pregnancy, bullying – their ministry can inspire them to show up more fully present and with a message! George Clooney raises awareness of Darfur, Matt Damon raises money for ONE campaign, Angelina Jolie makes third-world adoption seem doable. All these actors use their celebrity to make the world a little better. What will you shine your cap-light on? When you succeed as an actor, will it all be worthwhile if you haven’t left the world a little better for your efforts? Wealth and fame are empty motivators and will exhaust you long before being of service to others.
5 thoughts on “What can you do to keep going when you feel like quitting?”
Love this subject! We were just talking about this in my class the other night. Fear can definitely rule you if you let it. When an actor walks in the room (or onto the stage) to audition – if they’re carrying that self-doubt or the cadavers of roles they didn’t get – we can see it.
These days actors have so many tools to self-promote and produce their own content (web series, theatre) that one can get engulfed in a 24/7 whirlwind of “chasing the dream” and creating. On one hand it’s great – you’re not waiting to be asked to the party. On the other hand, one can get so absorbed that you stop living your life. I think it’s all about balance. Have a life in order to draw experience and emotion for your work – traveling, seeing your favorite bands, visiting museums and art galleries, spending time with your family, volunteering – the list goes on!
Keep your life rich and balanced. Stay interested. And if you stop being interested in acting, stop acting until you fill your tank back up.
I work with a clientele that lives, breathes and often embraces fear: teenagers. These young people talk about the insecurities and shortcomings in their life more than they talk about the things that are crucial to our success as actors, performers and creatives. It is difficult for these students to speak about self-confidence, authentic expression and unfiltered emotion. Many of these teens have bought into the fears and insecurities that are thrown upon themselves and by people who are supposed to be their support.
Much of the time spent in my classes is focused on encouraging these teens to push aside those negative thoughts, self-doubt and that intense awareness of “what everyone else thinks of me.” In many respects, we are not that different. We worry about what people think of us a lot of the time. What I try to teach my actors is to first embrace their true selves…the self that we often spend time hiding from others. I try to convince them that too much of their lives are spent in fear rather than hope, confidence and passion.
The sooner they realize that fear, when left unchecked will paralyze them emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and creatively.
When they begin to embrace, accept and channel that fear into strong, honest and powerful performances then they grow. At the end of the day, I’m most interested in the real “them,” not the fake, false person that most teens project. I’ve found that acting is one of the most effective ways for people to understand, manage and control fear.
Thank you for this post Jeffrey. I know the inhale and the exhale that you described above even better. I will do my best to be the co-creater that I know I am.
It is in you 🙂
Very inspiring Mr. Marcus. I can honestly say,…..”this is real teaching”. Wished the whole world could read theses word. Because they pretain to not only actors/actresses, but to every living soul who is striving to reach the top of their dreams.