Sunday, February 28, 2010

DOing may be our UN-Doing

Charlotte Selver said, "We come into the world and soon learn to feel we always should be doing something instead of simply being open for what presents itself at the moment."

We are conditioned at a very young age to DO because simply noting something does not demonstrate to others you get it. Selver sites examples like a mother demonstrating for her "child, "mmmmm, doesn't that taste good?" (as she smacks her lips), or "Listen to the airplane!" (looking up strenuously)."

So how do we combat or learn alternative ways of being? As artists, or people, healing our souls is paramount. Without health, longevity lacks joy.

Meditation is embraced by many cultures to heal thoughts. WAIT! If you are repelled by the thought of sitting in a room with a bunch of other people trying to clear your mind, you are not alone. This is NOT the only way to create a centering practice.

A centering practice can be anything from traditional meditation to a repetitive action that requires focus, but allows the mind to percolate: it is something you practice often to rid yourself of any unnecessary feelings. Feelings begin from sensation, we interpret the sensation and give the experience meaning, and the meaning is often linked to our core belief system.

Do you crave to be more comfortable in your skin and in your life? Think about sensations you get that calm you down. What are the elements present in those experiences?

Sensations are great in that we can create a new one in our body at any given moment to override the sensations that may lead to uneasiness. Find your happy triggers and use them often!

Give my Core to Win two minute "awakening sensations" a go!

1. Find 2 minutes where you are uninterrupted - TWO.

2. Get in a comfortable position (sitting, lying down, standing) and when your body stills (no fidgeting, scratching, etc.),
bring your attention to the sounds around you.
Close your eyes to tune into your hearing.

3. Begin noticing the closest sounds to you and keep moving out until your two minutes is up. (The sounds next to your body, 1 foot, 2 feet, next room, outside, etc. Be specific.)

4. When you open your eyes and come into awareness, note what that experience was like for you. How do you feel in your body now?
What is your breathing like now?
What was the closest sound, the furthest?

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rainy Day Celebration

In some Native American Traditions, rain is perceived as good fortune. The rain nurtures the earth and helps us grow food and sustain life.

In Los Angeles, rain usually means dangerous roads (because they're so dirty from NOT having usual rain fall), crazy or timid drivers, --- and a welcome sense of calm.

I invite you to take a moment today in the rain or observing the rain to offer thanks for your good fortune. You live in a desert with great weather, amazing people, and an abundance of resources.

Let us dwell in possibility!

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ambition is Necessary

"Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds."
~Oscar Wilde

If you love what you do, you'll do anything to do it. This is the artists' cross to bear.

Sadly, you and I know people who are amazing talents who do not have the ambition to wade through all of the necessary meetings, business rigmarole, nor embody the tenacity of spirit to remain okay against a barrage of assaulting thoughts.

What will carry a person through the storms? Ambition. How much you want it will determine what lengths you will go to accomplish your goal. What's too much? Where do you draw the line?

I waited until I was healthy, capable, and honed my craft before moving to L.A. Most actors are encouraged to move here when they are young because it's easier for agents to pitch the young ones. Sadly, many young actors do not an acting process intact so they may land the job, and then get fired or never hired again because the performance given is either flat or unrepeatable.

The lesson? Go take classes from people who inspire you who nurture you rather than tear you down. This business is already full of sharks. There are plenty of teachers and coaches who are wonderful both at sharing craft and helping you create your own. Unabashedly, I have been told I am a great teacher because I love what I do and I love helping another actor hone her process.

Look around and find your support system. Surround yourself with people who love you!!!

I'd be interested to learn what you do to remain in integrity - or even if you choose to remain in the business on and off because of the challenges you've found.

Finding your voice is the first step, using it is the second. Let me hear from you!

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Be Or Not To Be in Los Angeles

A friend of mine was going on the other day about how spread out L.A. is compared to other cities like Chicago or New York when it comes to a theater district. According to Douglas Clayton, theater director and Programs Director at L.A. Stage Alliance, greater L.A. boasts over 500 theaters. Greater L.A. spans a whopping 33,955 square miles making it the second largest city in the U.S.

Whether you live in Los Angeles or you're deciding to move here, take advantage resources like The Actors' Fund housing program. Not only does The Actors' Fund offer actors resources like WestSide rentals (a website common to find housing in L.A.), the organization also offers classes where you can hone your skills, meet other actors, revise your resume, learn about health insurance, money management, and so much more! Plus, if you are a member of the Screen Actors' Guild, you can take advantage of membership benefits like a Weekend Vacation Card at Burke Williams Spa for $79 (such a deal!) - which will help when you're stressing out.

If you're unsure which acting companies you would like to work with, go see your community at work. A helpful tool is the Ovation Recommended shows posted on L.A. Stage Alliance. These shows have been attended by working theater professionals and have been found to be in the top 20% of shows being produced in greater L.A. You may also get inspired, which always makes your work better.

To build your community, you need to tend to it to make it flourish. Whether you're cultivating personal or business community, find the people you love who love you - and keep them close. Standing on their shoulders will allow you to see your world as it should be.

Copyright 2010 Heather Corwin

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Listen to Your Core - Finding Representation

Acting is a tedious business. While actor training is delightful and insightful to an artist as a person and as a performer, the getting of jobs on the regional stage or screen in the jungle of Los Angeles can hurt the sensitive heart of an artist.

Finding the best match to go forward and tackle your career requires personal insight and listening to your gut. The gimme's of meeting with an agent or manager are:

1. Know who you are - your type. This can best be determined by how you've been cast in the past.

2. Know what type of person you like to work with (direct, brutally honest, nurturing, etc.). The person an artist chooses to represent and help mold her career will ideally have a myriad of elements - know which ones are most important to you.

3. Your representation must love your work. As an actor, you should be able to tell if a person truly enjoys your work. If you cannot tell, look for amount of eye contact during your meeting - if the agent or manager does not seem interested, it's because he or she is not. If you don't get that excited feeling, working together may not be the best match.

As for running your business, Phil Brock puts it best: "You are your own CEO and everyone works for you." If the ship is not going in the direction you want, it's time for a meeting. You need to hire the people who you feel will get you where you want to go - and YOU are the boss.

Okay Boss, YOU have to step up to the plate. First, get your tools in order, then build relationships. This is not the days of old where casting directors actually had open calls to meet new actors. If you want to make it in L.A., you need to MEET casting directors and get your work in front of them. Success is all about relationships.

Your tools are crucial: headshots (that look good as a thumbnail) I love Natalie Young, a demo reel (do a FlipCamera video if you don't have anything), and get some credits. If you just can't seem to get into a screen audition, do some 99-seat theatre. Keep acting!!! I don't suggest paying to get into an acting company because I am a firm believer in being paid for your craft, but to each her own. Get on Actor's Access, which is associated with breakdowns, so you can submit yourself. Get on IMDb Pro so casting directors can find you.

Varient Actors' Lab, run by Amie Farrell, is a great class because the format is casting director guests twice a month and class to work skills twice a month. Other options include places like The Actors' Key.

As an artist, you need to tend to your heart. Integrity is tough when jobs are fleeting, the "next best thing" is always around the corner, and people are fickle. Know the things that make you happy, do them, and keep PLAYING. This is your life, make it happen as you wish.

Copywright 2010 Heather Corwin