Posts in ‘The Conscious Actor’

The Conscious Actor

Jun 30

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

ENJOY THE KISS, BUT HAVE A PLAN

Crack open an actor when they’re wrapped up in a conversation about acting and you’ll find a great big smile.  Oh, they may not be so in love with their profession when competing for a role, trying to meet the rent, or vying for the right agent.  But, when acting, they’re smitten.  They can even tell you the moment it kisshappened to them.  Maybe watching their first Broadway show, getting cast in the school production of,  “Annie,” or losing themselves in a dark movie theatre watching the big screen.  The moment they fell in love with acting remains imprinted in their memory banks like a first kiss.  But, as you know by now, everything comes with a price.

In-between acting jobs actors must contend with moments of joy, disappointment, heartache, self-doubt, and the list goes on and on.  It’s an endurance test.  And you can be sure that “love” won’t help you ride out those waves when you feel like throwing the towel in. Love is a good start, but it is discipline, not inspiration that will carry you through when your heart is lagging behind. Discipline is more than the act of just showing up.  It is a commitment to stick with yourself even when everything falls apart.  As actors, you will have to pull it back together over and over again.  When you get thrown off course by rejection or disappointment, discipline will be the map you use to find your way back.  The great graphic designer, Massimo Vignelli said,

 “Discipline is what helps us navigate through the social context in which we operate. Discipline is what makes us responsible toward ourselves, toward our clients, toward the society in which we live. It is through discipline that we are able to improve ourselves, mentally and physically; to offer the best of ourselves to everything around us, including every project on which we work…” read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jun 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

 Sail Through Rejection With 5 Questions

All actors experience rejection in their careers, even famous ones like, Marilyn Monroe.  In 1944, some putz at the Blue Book Modeling Agency said to Miss Monroe, “You had better learn secretarial work or else get married.”  Oh, that’s so 1944, and so lacking insight!  In 2014, actors still have to struggle with rejection and a good amount of ‘putzs’ (Yiddish for jerks) on a daily basis.marilyn

To have stamina, you need a solid strategy for handling rejection, and I don’t mean… shopping, chocolate, or a dirty martini.  Strategies that keep you running away from your feelings are self-destructive and chip away at your spirit. Instead, the next time you face rejection, pull out these five questions and turn the bitter pill of rejection into a mega vitamin,  that will foster strength, endurance, and confidence. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Apr 29

Bonnie

by Bonnie Katz, MA

Smile at Fear

If there’s one feeling actors would love to get rid of once and for all, it’s FEAR; especially when it gets in the way of their performance.  Fear can sound like a faint voice in the background causing you to doubt yourself.  It whispers things like, “What if you don’t get any auditions this week?”  “What if your agent drops you?”  “What if you flub a line?”  “What if you fall on your face when the curtain goes up?” Not all fears are based in failure, some come along with success.  Like,” Wow, finally booked a job, will I be able to do this again?”  “Love working on this show, I wonder when it’s going to be cancelled?”  “Gee, it feels good to have money in the bank, but how long will it last?” read all »

The Conscious Actor

Apr 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Mindfulness Meditation: To Be or Not to Be

What if I told you that it was possible to develop skills—for free—that could help you manage feelings of stress and difficulty with a sense of ease?  I’m talking about the ones that actors are particularly prone to on a daily basis; like horrific auditions, agents who drop you or parts lost to fellow thespians?  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Wrong, believe it.  It’s called mindfulness meditation, and it has scientific research to back up its efficacy.

The kind of meditation I’m talking about is extremely simple and doesn’t require an excursion to a mountaintop to contemplate your existence.  It simply asks that you sit still, in a comfortable position, and focus your attention on inhaling and exhaling for ten or more minutes.  That’s it.  This simple task has been proven to have big effects on the brain and how you feel.  If I didn’t personally experience the benefits of mindfulness, I would have some doubts.  But, I’ve seen how the practice of mindfulness meditation has helped people, especially actors, to meet life’s challenges with equanimity and balance. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Mar 05

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Are you headed down the red carpet or the green carpet?

Hollywood transforms into a smorgasbord of emotional highs and lows during Oscar week.  Breathtaking beauties dripping with baubles prance down the red carpet waiting to be gobbled up by screaming fans and insatiable reporters.  Invites to lavish parties are sent with seductively luxurious gift baskets ready to lure the prey. This is the stuff dreams are made of.  And it’s all so damn tempting isn’t it? The red carpeters have it all—the perfect life. Wow, some people have all the luck.  Why is it so easy for them and so difficult for me?

Okay, enough of that talk! As the hilarious Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.“ So, let’s stop kvetching and start building.  If you’re going to last in Hollywood, you’ve got to find a way not to let the green-eyed monster called envy take a bite out of you. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Feb 03

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Like Is Not Love

My heart is aching.  I just put my sister on a plane headed back to New York after a wonderful 10-day visit with me. It’s tough when 3,000 miles separates you from your family.  Actors understand this heartache very well.  They often find themselves in cities far away from family and friends, while pursuing their careers.  Kudos to you for having the bravery to pack your bags, leave your home behind and venture out into the big unknown.

An actor’s life can look like an emotional obstacle course.  Up one day, down the next.  One door may close and in the next moment another opens.  It’s rarely a smooth ride.  You’re juggling auditions, classes, agents, headshots, and a myriad of other demands while working another job to keep food on the table.  One commercial can put enough money in your bank account to buy a house or you could go months without an audition.  This is what actors sign up for when they decide to pursue an acting career.  Keeping your spirits intact while you deal with all of this is essential to survival.  To ensure a successful journey, don’t leave the care of your emotional life behind.  Get a plan to survive the tough emotional circumstances that will inevitably cross your path.  If you don’t, you won’t last.  Many actors have given up and packed their bags before they reached their full potential because they couldn’t handle their difficult emotions.  So, what will it take to give it your best shot? read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jan 03

Bonnie

by Bonnie Katz, MA

Two Simple Steps for a Better Year

Actors, is the New Year an unpleasant reminder that time has gone by and you still don’t have what you want? Or, is it a reminder to stop, take a breath, and be grateful that you’ve made it through another year?  Your view of the New Year speaks volumes about you.  It reveals your take on life.  That’s important information, because where you direct your focus has greater influence on your happiness and well-being than what actually happens to you in life. There are two types of temperaments; those who hit obstacles along their path, fall down, make mistakes, and are able to get up and go along their merry way, and those who stay stuck, blaming and cursing at everyone else while feeling sorry for themselves.  Which temperament do you identify with?

In my psychotherapy practice, those people who have the most successful outcomes in therapy are the ones who come in feeling stuck and unhappy but want some self-understanding in order to move through their unhappiness and change.  They know how to harness their personal power by taking responsibility for their present life no matter what their past looks like.  They want to understand where they’ve been so they know where they are going.  On the other hand, those trapped in negative cycles, are usually trying to change everyone else’s views in order to justify their own.  A better alternative would be to acknowledge that life has been unfair, let go, and move forward, rather than wallowing in self-pity.  Sad to say, that there is no magic wand that can be waived over your heads to make all the bad go away.  I wish there was.  But, the good news is, you don’t need magic to change.  If you’ve got a strong desire, a lot of guts and the willingness to work hard, the world of possibilities can open up to you.  I’ve witnessed it. It can be done, no matter what you’ve been through. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Dec 03

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

The Gift Of An Actor

An actor’s world is competitive.  To be successful and stay on top of their game, they are often sifting through mountains of information regarding self-improvement.  Being out there on a limb, alone, without support, they must also be good self-motivators.  In appreciation of the acting profession, I would like to share a holiday gift of inspiration for your journey, and also say, “Thank You!”  Thank you for choosing this difficult profession.  Thank you for showing up and working hard to be the best that you can be.  Thank you for being part of the magic that helps us laugh when our hearts are heavy and cry when we need to release our sadness.  And most of all, thank you, because watching great actors perform, helps the rest of us connect to our humanity.  And we certainly can use more of that in the world! read all »

The Conscious Actor

Nov 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Are you blocking your creativity?

For the past 25 years, John Cleese (Monty Python), has been doing research on the subject of creativity.  Every actor who strives to produce great work needs to know the answers to two important questions: 1- How do creative people produce their stuff? 2- How can you be more creative?  The following is an excerpt taken from his talk at Video Arts in London, in which he reveals the key elements to becoming more creative and what you can do to stop blocking your creativity.

Brian Bates, a researcher and psychologist on creativity confirmed what Dr. Donald W. McKinnon, a researcher in human personality at the University of California at Berkeley stated back in the 60′s, “Creativity cannot be explained! ”  But, he did discover precisely what creativity isn’t. “Kind of like when a famous sculptor was asked how he carved such a beautiful elephant, he replied, ‘He took a big piece of marble and carved away everything that didn’t look like an elephant.’”  John cleeseCleese continues to explain that contrary to belief, creativity is not a talent, it is a way of operating.  It is not an ability that you either have or don’t have and it is absolutely unrelated to a person’s IQ.  McKinnon showed that those people regarded by their peers as being the most creative had acquired a facility for simply getting themselves in a particular mood which allowed their natural creativity to emerge.  To put it simply, they had the ability to play.  To be childlike, play with ideas and explore them for enjoyment. They operated in an open system vs. a closed system. Creativity is not possible in the closed mode. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Oct 03

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

What’s Your Protection Plan?

Your need to be seen, heard and felt by another person is as essential to your life as the air you breathe.  When a person doesn’t feel accepted and understood by others, it affects their sense of worthiness and belonging.  As actors, it’s a bumpy road of ups and downs; one day you’re praised and the next ignored.  You feel small one week and big the next.  With such shaky ground beneath you, it’s vital to know where, bumpy-roadhow, when and with whom those needs can or cannot get met.  Otherwise, your self-esteem is in jeopardy.  You need a protection plan so you don’t feel like you’ve been to battle at the end of each day.  If you can recognize yourself in the list below, it may be time to do things differently in order to get different results.

  •  Wishing you weren’t so sensitive.
  • Wanting thicker skin after a rough audition or a day on an unfriendly set.
  •  Not wanting to feel weak and vulnerable when someone says something negative to you.
  •  Needing to be liked all the time.
  • Having mood swings because your feelings are dependent on others liking and accepting you.
  • Continuously second-guessing yourself and constantly asking for advice from others.

Stop wishing these difficulties would just go away and start taking action.  If you don’t learn how to build up your confidence and hold on to your self-esteem through it all, you won’t last.  Some simple changes in your perspective can teach you how to ride out the ups and downs to your advantage.

Widen your view when you feel stuck with a repetitive bad feeling.   A microscopic view closes you off to solutions.  In an interview with the Dalai Lama, when asked what to do when bad things happen, he spoke about, “ Looking from a different angle.  read all »