Posts in ‘The Conscious Actor’

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 »

The Conscious Actor

Sep 24

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Getting your foot in the door

It takes hard work to be an actor.  Therefore, it’s important to do everything in your power not to add to that difficulty by getting in your own way.  Artists must learn to handle their internal blocks with self-knowledge and insight in order to have free access to their emotions.  Meryl Streep states, “My job is usually to express emotion as freely as possible.”  Key word being “freely.”

streepI have admiration for actors when they nail an audition, even if they don’t get cast.  It takes a lot of focus and skill to express emotion under so much pressure.  You can’t fake it either, especially with casting directors. They are in the ” feelings” business and are masters at detecting imitation.  They know what they feel, and if you’re not feeling real emotions, neither are they.  The first hurdle you have to get through is having an impact on them.  They figure if you can’t make them feel anything,  what’s the likelihood of making an audience feel something?  You’ve got to have enough focus and acting skills to take an audience on a cathartic ride with you. Jane Fonda describes it as, “I’m an assistant storyteller. It’s like being a waiter or a gas-station attendant, but I’m waiting on six million people a week, if I’m lucky.”  In fact, the whole entertainment industry is built on the premise of people buying a ticket and being taken on a thrilling, emotional roller coaster ride.  The audience expects to feel a rainbow of emotions from side-splitting laughter to gut-wrenching heartache, not to mention some goose bumps too.  That’s a pretty tall order, but when it all falls into place and the actors deliver, it’s like magic.

You’ve got your work cut out for you.  Here are three ideas that can help you get out of your own way and make it a bit easier to do what you love, ACT. read all »

The Conscious Actor

Aug 05

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Get ready for your big break

Every actor dreams of having someone recognize their talent and giving them, “The Big Break.”  The long-awaited opportunity of a lifetime that launches their career. Hello fame and fortune, goodbye struggle and anonymity. No more listening to that recurrent inner voice echoing before each audition, “Maybe this time it will happen, someone in that room will say yes.” Those days are over. I have finally arrived!

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 11.17.58 AMActors yearn to be recognized, valued and given the opportunity to do what they love, act. Every day is about turning that dream into a reality. To stay on a steady course towards success, you’ve got to have plenty of self-belief. Confidence is a required when asking others to go out on a limb for you. They will not only be putting their reputations on the line, but also investing time, money and effort into you. It takes moxie to ask for that kind of trust. Do you have enough self-confidence to make them feel comfortable about taking a chance on you? read all »

The Conscious Actor

Jul 01

Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Self-Love or Self-Loathing

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 3.53.14 PM

Imagine someone whispering in your ear,  “Your greatest performances are within you right now.”  What would your response be?  Would you doubt it?  Or would you say, “Yes, I know, thank you.”  Most people don’t understand the importance of working on their self-belief.  Instead, they spend lots of time trying to convince others to believe in them.  That can leave you feeling powerless, exhausted and empty inside.  Thinking you have to be perfect in order to be accepted can lead you to  excessive self-criticism and not enough recognition of your wins.  Long-term studies show, negative self-talk is associated with higher stress levels and depression. These bad habits make life harder than it needs to be.  And, isn’t the acting profession tough enough?  If you’re ready, you can ignite a positive transformation.  Don’t wait for the outside circumstances to change.  Start fresh, right now, by stopping chronic negative self-talk. Begin to build a positive relationship with yourself and you’ll walk through life less affected by what others think of you.
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