Dear Fear,

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FADE IN.

INT. BRAIN – DUSK.   Cue: Long, deep sigh followed by shiver of terror.

EXT.  RIVER OF TRANSITION – NIGHT.

It’s the middle of the night.  You are alone in the middle of a swirling black river.  The current is strong.  The waves are lapping. Your mind is racing.  You’re fighting to keep your head above water.  You can’t touch the bottom or see what is below.  You are blindly trying to make it across to the other side.  Trying to move far enough ahead that your toes finally touch solid ground and you can start trusting that you are again on the upward incline, even if just an inch at a time.  That is the year it has been.  A year of surprising challenges, unanticipated changes, devastating heartbreak on a number of levels, confusion, unexpected losses… a multitude of strifes.   A year of transitions.  We’ve all been there.  A year of doing your best to let go of what was, but what is coming next hasn’t yet arrived, so you are sort-of-lost, sort-of-drifting, sort-of-desperate…to find meaning, understanding, solid ground.  Don’t panic.  Think of it like jet lag.  Your body has arrived but your heart and mind are still catching up to this new reality.  Whether you are putting in endless work, or feel unable to do anything at all, the effects are often the same – because right now you are in the middle of the black river of transition….and it simply takes time, to get through it all and find your feet again.

I pride myself on being ‘aggressively optimistic’ and always fighting for and believing that the perfect thing is just about to arrive… but in a year full of tragedy and set backs, fear has been nipping at my heels, and finding its way into my heart. It is certainly not all bad, and I trust I’ll reach the other side soon…but I am owning the reality that it has been a year full of painful change and loss and I don’t feel like I’m quite on solid ground at the moment…which inevitably brings vulnerability, stress and fear roaring to life.

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Fuck that.  Who needs it?   And yet…

Is there anything more seductive?   How easily we fall into that trap.

INT.  HEART – LATER THAT NIGHT.  Enter DOUBT stage left.

Fear is familiar, addictive and paralyzing. For whatever reason, words that wound us, fears that plague us, and beliefs that bind us are the ‘stickiest’.  They convince you they are important.  Assure you they are right. Fear brings its evil twin: doubt.   Why does doubt get to be the thing we are certain of?   Doubt is not the one who has earned victory here.  Doubt is not the one who deserves the power.  You must doubt your doubt.

Yet I’m fascinated watching how our minds work…how others handle this black river.  It has been a year of deep conversations with family, friends and coworkers on their own triumphs and failures. Their desire to leave a valuable mark, and reach their own goals and milestones in the way and on the timeline they expected – and how they cope when things go sideways.   How my heart bursts with love for those who curl towards you in times of strife instead of adding distance, or placing blame. Those who never take it personally when you have to pull back and focus on yourself.  So much gratitude to those who know they don’t have to supply an answer just an ear to listen.

I’m disheartened by those who have been thrown a rope, yet still refuse to grab hold – fearing letting go of what they’ve grown used to. Staying in situations out of the familiarity of what they know, what they can predict, even when it is predictably so far from what they want most.

I’m bemused by those still struggling to trust they have made it through the river and are back on solid ground – even as their new plateaus are publicly undeniable.  A dear friend is in the middle of a whirlwind second-life in her career, and her life.  A banner year of so many projects getting wonderful attention that have brought her the success and notice she so deserves.   I sent her a note saying how inspired I had been by her this year, and was shocked at the sincerity of her thank you as she admitted to her own insecurity over ‘whether her work mattered and was worthwhile’ and her fear of ‘whether it would last’.   This entire conversation was a glimpse into the heart of all of us, for her level of success, the beauty of her work, the power of her spirit, are all things that I aim for, and feel she embodies implicitly…and yet her doubt is as strong as the person who has never experienced success.  We humans are such silly creatures.   Doubt your doubt! 

I’m devastated witnessing some walk away from what could be the best thing in their life, out of cowardice, weakness, fear of change. I can say with utter certainty, I would rather be in middle of the black river – unsure of what comes next, but trusting it is coming, than to be resigned to a life that is slowly suffocating me. Change is hard, but change is good.

I’m enchanted by those using both hands to claim the latest successes of their lives with bonafied glee and unabashed revelry.  I’m bursting with joy as I witness ‘the ship come in’ for someone who had been stranded on shore for far too long personally and professionally.  An extraordinary friend who has landed smack in the middle of success after some terrifyingly difficult years.

And I remain inspired..by so many things, including my little dog, who I affectionately call Chicken Little, as she is convinced at every second that the sky is falling.  Yet I watch her tackle her fear each day and become this brave little bolt of lightening, as the power of her desire for what she loves, and what she wants, will overcome her fear: Every. Single. Time. That is the courage I want.  The kind that weighs the odds, is unconvinced of the outcome and jumps anyway.  Optimism winning, hope succeeding, love triumphing.  I can’t stop fear from visiting, but I refuse to ‘live’ in fear.  I just refuse.

So what’s a girl to do?  Find her inner wolf and give fear the finger.

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And surrender. Life is beauty and pain.  Life will break your heart again and again, and heal it over and over. Let it. This is its job. This is how we grow, and move on, and transition.  Change is hard…but change is good, as long as fear and doubt are not in the drivers seat.  Find your courage, embrace your optimism and ride the current.  Now is the time to lean forward instead of back, to give more instead of less, to be bold.  Sure, the waves are choppy, the water is cold, and the circumstances feel impossible. Tip your head back and laugh. Smile even in the middle of the black river.  Doubt your doubt.

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INT.  HEART – PRESENT DAY   Pulse jumpy, blood pressure shaky, confidence wavering.

EXT.  FACE  – SAME TIME   Close Up: delighted smile, laughing at the circumstance.

INT.  MIND – MOMENTS LATER  Cue: long, deep sigh…of amusement, followed by a shiver of delight over this thing we call life.

FADE TO BLACK

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The New Frontier

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Love this essay from Adi Shankar.  Fresh POV, undeniable truths, real motivation and inspired perspective.

An excerpt:

Understand and Believe that Art is Important
Art gives our lives context.  It helps us understand the culture that makes us who we are.  And, if you are lucky, one day you may be able to shape the culture that influenced you. If you claim to be an artist, but you’re motivated by money… You’re a douche.

Do What You Love. Period.
Friends, parents, educational institutions, and marketing companies all seem to really enjoy telling people what they should want out of life.  Fuck them.  Figure out what you want and do that. Don’t sacrifice your integrity early on for a paycheck. It’s your life, and you are beholden to no one.  Living your life according to what’s cool at the moment is the ultimate form of servitude.

Hint: If treading water doesn’t feel like drowning, you’re not doing what you love.

Don’t Be Discouraged by People Who Don’t Believe
A fatal flaw in the human condition is that even if there is a great likelihood that something is true, we don’t want to believe it. A potentially fatal flaw for many creative people is to be brought down by the doubts of others. People without vision will likely never believe that things can change. But once it happens, no matter how great the tectonic shift, they are quick to accept this new reality as the one true reality.  Anyone who has ever set out to do something even slightly outside the norm has been mocked, questioned, and ridiculed.  Realize that people’s doubts aren’t a reflection on you, your abilities, or your ultimate outcome.  They are just upset at their own lack of imagination and inability to step out of their comfort zone, and you become a walking reminder of those insecurities.  Ignore the haters.

read the whole thing here:

Gary Oldman is the bomb

Aside

d5d2ecf381089cdf81634fa8c8f74021Loved this interview with Gary Oldman.  A excerpt:

Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. An acting teacher told me that.

You choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.

“Fuck ’em.” Shortest prayer in the world.

A lazy man works twice as hard. My mother told that to me, and now I say it to my kids. If you’re writing an essay, keep it in the lines and in the margins so you don’t have to do it over.

I wanted to play Dracula because I wanted to say: “I’ve crossed oceans of time to find you.” It was worth playing the role just to say that line.

…..

Read more: Gary Oldman Quotes – What I’ve Learned Gary Oldman Interview – Esquire

Bits & Bobs

Some bits of wisdom I felt like sharing:
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According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary the word “amateur” comes to us from the Latin word amator”meaning “lover” or amare”which means “to love.” “To love,” when you are young and relatively innocent is, of course, quite easy. You are filled with nothing but great expectations and very little real experience to temper those dreams. Grown-up love (the kind that lasts, anyway) involves loving not just the dream, but also the reality. I try to instill in my students that most careers are a wonderful mash-up of the good, the bad and the ugly. Glorious victories. Shitty disappointments. Rapturous praise. Rotten tomatoes. Enduring friendships. Freaks and Fiends. Lavish attention. Followed by periods of complete and utter invisibility. During my first “professional” gig, I stupidly asked an elderly character actor why we had to do eight shows a week. To me, it seemed like a lot to ask. He smiled thinly and replied, “We do eight shows a week, my boy, on the off-chance that we might get one of them right.” Turns out he was correct about that. More often than not, that “one” – that happy attempt that goes well – does seem to make up for everything that proceeded it. Whenever we did a performance that went better than expected, I remember the old character actor used to clap his hands together and exclaim, “All is forgiven!” Being young, I had no clue what he meant by that, but it now strikes me the most elegant and concise definition of love I have ever heard.
     – From the hilarious and brilliant David Dean Bottrell http://partsandlabor.blogspot.com/2009/03/amateur-night.html

“An actor knows that this thing we call life is nothing more than a series of moments strung together in a mystical chain…. The actor therefore trains himself to pay attention to ALL moments… to live mindfully, beholden only to his sense of truth, without anticipation, without fear. The moments bind together, forming an endless wave which the actor rides like a tiger, never knowing where the tiger will turn next– never caring, if the truth be told. For the actor knows that there is never an outcome and never an ending. There is only the ride.” -William Esper

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Girl, you better work.

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I love this image.

It’s good to be reminded of this dynamic as the performer, and also as the audience.    It says volumes of what goes on behind the scenes to craft a performance, a project.  Or look at it on a bigger scale -to build a career, a life.     What we put on public display we hope is the best we have to offer- a culmination of hours, days, years of effort.     I’m sure this applies to every career…every life.   The behind the scenes work is 20 fold what we show to the public.

Perhaps this is why we value the validation of our peers.  They get it.  I hear jokes about actors being lazy…but it’s not feasibly to be lazy and successful when the competition is this fierce.  Looks, luck or connections may get you in the door, but the depth and breadth of talent all around you means you must really have the goods, to book the job….or to book the one after that.

No, I can’t come out and play.   I have work to do.

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Being a Hepburn in a Hilton World

This is the title of a book I haven’t read, but fully assume I would love….because I instantly adore the title.    It resonates with me completely.

I love being an actress….but I sometimes hesitate to say I’m an actress.   It often opens up a somewhat awkward situation.   If the person I’m talking to doesn’t already know my work then I am usually asked to run down a list of some of my most popular projects and they may not have seen any of them, or worse don’t remember me… and it just sort of bites – and is awkward and anticlimactic for all involved.  Many people are instantly charmed by the idea of meeting someone ‘famous’ (to whatever degree) but that can quickly turn to disappointment if you haven’t worked on their favorite show or are unwilling to spill any gossip.   But the bigger reason I often refrain from chatting up my profession is that if people aren’t already familiar with your work they think either ‘oh, she’s a wannabe actress’ – Cue the old joke:

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or many people hear the word  actress and  they picture this:

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or this:

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or (insert tabloid cover of some wannabe starlets life mid-meltdown, here: _______________).

And its true those “actresses” exist…..but I’m happy to report that I don’t really know any of these women… and it makes my skin crawl to think of being potentially perceived that way.  That is not who I am drawn to or who I draw to me.  And doesn’t represent my LA experience at all.  Though I know those ‘actresses’ exists – probably in the tens of thousands in LA, truthfully, I have almost no experience with these women. I hate being lumped into that category…and until you ‘make it big’ there is always a segment of the population that may choose to see you this way.

Who I do know…. are fiercely talented, creative, inspiring women that bring it!  Some are famous, some have been famous, some are on the upswing and some coming back down, some just digging in their heels, trying to get established….but they are all driven, determined and focused on the prize…which is the work.    They force me to get up and be creative and get stuff done…because that’s what they are doing.

They aren’t slyly marketing a sex tape or dating some disaster in the calculated risk that the benefits would out-weigh the horror of such a decision.   No, they are writing films, creating shows, putting on plays, directing their own projects, and thinking outside of the box.  They are doing what has to be done to continue to pursue their art and passion.  They are COORDINATING with each other instead of attempting to step on each other.

And I Love that.  Love with a capitol L and in bold and underlined.  I don’t want to ‘win’ in this career by being good at something where most people are lazy or boring or predictable.  No.  I want to excel in a field where the cream is rising to the top and we are all putting out our best – pushing each other to be more innovative, passionate, focused and brazen in our willingness to do it ourselves if the opportunities aren’t being given to us.  To be more than we even thought possible.  Each day, to be better and stronger and braver than we were the day before.

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When I think of an actress, I think of this:

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or this:

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or  (insert Oscar winning, humanitarian, philanthropic, witty creative genius here_______________)   and it makes me dizzy with the esteemed company I keep within my chosen field.

I strive to be a Hepburn  (or a Garbo, Baker, Lupino, Kelly, Hayworth, Horne, Maclaine, Davis, Loy, Colbert, Leigh, Taylor, Pickford, Dandridge, etc…you get my drift)….. constantly aiming for that level of grace and class, talent and PRESENCE.

They say luck is opportunity meeting preparedness.   Without a doubt the ladies in my circle are prepared…here’s hoping many delicious opportunities to shine are just around the corner for all of us.

Who’s that girl?

For years people have told me I should write a book about my Hollywood experiences. I’m not sure if I just have a better perspective than most to see the humor and absurdity in my Hollywood journey – or if my trip has been more ridiculous than others…but I’ve decided to start publicly sharing a bit of the good, bad and ugly from this LA life that my friends and family have laughed at for years.

If you are looking for a play by play of my one night stands or starf*cking, my coke habit, the casting couches I’ve christened, the producers I’ve slept with…you have the wrong girl. Sorry to disappoint, but none of these things have happened to me. I’m not any of the actress stereotypes. I’m just a  midwestern girl with passion for this work – and fierce determination to beat staggering odds.

Even without the juicy gossip, my journey has been full of  spectacular adventures, epic disappointments, hilarious hijinks and circumstances that have reached from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m lucky enough to have carved out a career for more than a decade…and hopefully lucky enough that this is only the beginning. So check back if you want to hear about the casting calls gone wrong, epic wardrobe malfunctions, on set antics ….or that time I walked in on a porno.

To find more about me visit www.AdrienneWilkinson.com, follow me on twitter at  www.twitter.com/Yo_AdrienneW or subscribe on Facebook  www.facebook.com/adrienne.wilkinson      

xo,     -Adrienne