“It is as true today as it ever was, he who seeks beauty will find it.”
– Bill Cunningham
Humanity is an ocean, a seductive blue attractive to the eye, and although its clarity can at times become tainted, if you choose to have the courage to delve deep into tarnished waters you will always uncover hidden treasures.
Artists are eternal seekers of beauty. They use their imaginations to convey the gritty truth of humanity. These people are divine, they discover splendour wherever they go, and they inspire others to find it too.
William J. “Bill” Cunningham was one of Earth’s rare angels. With an innate joie de vivre, he followed his bliss by combining his passions for photography, New York City, and, of course, fashion. From the tenacity of downtown Manhattan to the uptown socialites, he candidly exposed the magnificent city of New York to the world.
He was never interested in money, having once said, “Money is the cheapest thing. Freedom is the most expensive.” Bill was interested in people and considered fashion to be “the armour to survive everyday life.”
“If I cannot fly, let me sing.” ― Stephen Sondheim
The gift of voice is perhaps the most powerful gift of all. When one sings, the resonance creates a crescendo, awakening a passion, an unspoken thought or feeling we would otherwise fail to recognize. Music unites nations, soothes broken hearts, and feeds the soul. The sound of a beautiful voice sets the human spirit free.
There is an abundance of exquisite voices in the world, and the name “Streisand” would have to be at the forefront of the list. Her voice is “soft as budda” and she has been labelled “the greatest star” on many occasions. Heck, one of the most well-known songs from her first film, “Funny Girl,” had her singing, “I’m the greatest star,” as though it were a premonition catapulting her into a lifetime of unimaginable success.
However, there is someone else with the same infamous long fingers who also inherited the heavenly “Streisand” voice, a dynamic songstress whose talent, vitality, and humour is truly one of a kind.
Nine years her junior, Roslyn Kind is Barbra Streisand’s equally remarkable sister. With her Brooklyn charm and lustrous voice she has been taking the New York theatre and global club scene by storm since her late teens.
To be an actor, one must have the skin of a rhino and the heart of a baby. The vulnerability required to achieve authenticity and greatness in one’s craft is directly opposite to the strength and tenacity needed to survive in an industry where, for 90% of actors, unemployment is a way of life.
There is no business like show business. Everyone has a story to tell. Poverty, if one is not resourceful, can be the harsh reality for many actors. However, the business for those who rise to the occasion is a multi-million dollar industry, a dog eat dog world which gives a whole new meaning to the term “hustle.” The actor is no longer an artist, but a commodity.
Along my journey as an actor I have, and will, undoubtedly continue to experience highs and lows. I have learnt that not everyone will have your best interest at heart, to always stay true to yourself, to listen to that invaluable artist intuition, and that for every person who rejects you or abuses your trust, there is always someone who will believe in you and build you right back up again.
For me that someone is actor, author, teacher, and New York City’s finest Casting Director, Jeffrey Dreisbach.
“Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*. The storybooks are *bullshit.* Now I want you to come upstairs with me and *get* in my bed!”
– John Patrick Shanley, Moonstruck
In the age of the Kardashians and social media it is no secret that the number of Instagram followers can be of great importance when securing an agent or landing a role, sometimes even more than actual talent. However, social media followers aside it is essential to remember that actors are first and foremost, storytellers; the success of this storytelling starts in the hands of the writer. The dynamics of emotion and language build a momentum that ignites the passion of storytelling for an actor. When all the pieces come together, that’s where the magic happens and that’s a story that needs to be heard.
John Patrick Shanley is a true master in his craft, and absolutely one of my favourite contemporary playwrights. From stage to screen his unique style of writing embodies just the right amount of chutzpah and elegance to satisfy the most jaded audience member, he even has a plethora of awards to prove it including an Academy Award, Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Writers Guild of America Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and two Lucille Lortel Awards.
Is it any wonder Shanley won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Moonstruck” whilst Cher’s epic performance in the film earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress?
He not only wrote the stage and screenplay “Doubt: A Parable” he also directed two of the finest Actors of our time, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman whilst winning five awards for the production including a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Pulitzer Prize.
He is the author of more than 23 plays, which have been translated and performed around the world, including 80 productions a year in North America. In 2015 I produced Shanley’s “The Big Funk”, an invigorating play about how the power of compassion and faith in others will help us triumph over the modern condition.
New York City will rob you, cheat on you, and turn your friends against you. It will kick your ass and downright break your heart, then, in a New York minute, it will pick you back up again, make you feel so extraordinary you couldn’t possibly be alive anywhere else. You will feel like you are in the centre of the world.
Why? Because that is exactly where you are.
As an actor and singer I have always been drawn to the Big Apple. LA, whilst sunny and glamorous often finds me struggling to navigate a stick shift through endless traffic jams (not just on freeways). However, the authenticity permeating the city of New York is a testament to all its inhabitants. Its energy fuels creativity and exudes passion whilst being a constant reminder that no matter who you are, reality is only a subway ride away.
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho
Artists are beautiful creatures. Forever inspired by each other. The great ones build each other up exposing their souls to a world, which with all its inherent beauty can often be a cruel and dismissive place. It is easy to lose one’s way in life in any vocation when adversity rears its ugly head. Yet, adversity to an artist can occur daily and consists of rejection, long hours, solitude, financial struggles, and unfulfilled dreams. Sacrifice is a way of life for the dedicated artist who too often, with the bills piling up, moves on to greener pastures (dollars), depriving society of the gifts they were born to share.
It is at these times when the wise artist will turn to a friend, a teacher, a mentor to inspire and remind them what it is they were put on this earth to do.read more
“Let me say this to you: disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women. But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women,”
– Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
To voice ones belief and experience of abuse takes enormous courage. It brings up old wounds, robbed childhoods, broken hearts and painful memories. However, we all deserve to live in peace, if we can’t end the global war on terror we can at least end the terror one in six Australian women experience in their own homes.
It has been said that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults. I once knew of a little girl who would tremble with fear as she prayed for peace every evening before her father would come home. Not knowing what mood he would walk in the door with. Like all little girls, she had dreams and the world at her feet. However, her innocence and childhood were stunted. Very quickly she grew up and whilst she decided to live her dreams in spite of her painful past not a day went by without the anxiety and depression that comes with an abusive childhood.
I first met Karen Jacobsen in 2007 when we were both living in the same building in NYC. I had just moved to New York from Sydney and was determined to find my way in the Big Apple. Much like Karen 7 years prior, I arrived with a suitcase and a dream, barely legal to drink in the USA, yet possessing an air of maturity beyond my years. I knew where I needed to be, but had no idea how to get there.
Karen, with her big smile and incredible ingenuity, became not only my neighbour, but a mentor. She had an innate ability to simplify with immense clarity the most complicated situations. For Karen, obstacles have always been opportunities. If anyone could navigate their way from Mackay, a remote city in far North Queensland, Australia to NYC, it would be Karen Jacobsen.
It comes as no surprise to me that these days she is known as “The GPS Girl,” the voice in over 100 million GPS devices, giving drivers directions worldwide as “Australian Karen.” You can now even travel the world with The GPS Girl with her regular Podcasts on www.thegpsgirl.com.