Did summer just happen? Wow oh Wow!!! And I have been so busy that I haven't had time to let you all in on what has been happening around here. So for your end of summer enjoyment here are the Five Gratitude Fairies of Summer!!!!!!
1. SUCH CREATURES - A FILM NOIR
Labor day of 2013 I received an email saying I was cast as the lead actor in this film. In June and July we finished principal photography for this film. There were several 12 hour shoots which went overnight. There were days in which I would work my J.O.B. and then shoot for 12 hours and then go back to working my J.O.B. But guess what? I LOVED every second of it. I was fascinated with all the terminology, the camera, the lighting - and then there is my side of it - the acting. I am so grateful. Can't wait for you all to see this. They hope to have the Chicago premiere in late September/early October 2014.
2. TAYLOR CASTLE PHOTOGRAPHY
One day you get an email from a photographer looking to build his portfolio. You arrange a time and head to the shoot. You have no idea what the shoot is about - there was even the thought that my death awaited me as soon as I entered the loft. I think they asked me if I had a wedding ring. That was all I knew. But I showed up. And look what they did to me!!! It was such a fun day. The photographer trusted me to have his boy strapped to me. With all these great toys and pacifiers. I love Saying Yes!!! Look what happens when you say YES!!! Cool photos like these happen!!
3. VOXFEST - DARTMOUTH UNIVERSITY
This was a special part of my summer. I am so grateful to Karisa Bruin for inviting me to be part of her proposal. She proposed that we go to VoxFest (an intensive theater laboratory held at Dartmouth) and that we show up with a blank slate for a script and that by the end of the week we would perform a show. We had Thom Pasculli as our director. We also used other Dartmouth alum Beth Blatt, Andrew Dahl and Hannah Chase as writers. I was the only one on our project not from Dartmouth. Plus, as you can see in the photo - standing next to Karisa and I, we had current students perform and write with us. It was a magical week. It was an exhausting week. I got to flex all types of creative muscles as well as develop a deeper creative relationship with those around me. VoxFest welcomed me with open arms and loved and nourished me. An incredible experience!! I hope I get invited next year!!
4. THE SELF-LOVED ACTOR WORKSHOP
Since May I have had the honor of being able to hold the workshop 3 times. And one of those times was at Dartmouth University during VoxFest. Since creating it, there have been so many times where I say to myself, "I really need to take the workshop!" I keep wondering if I created the workshop to help others or if I created it for me? Lately, I've been getting so much out of it. I am grateful for being able to teach and am excited to show you all where we are taking it!!!!
5. 10-4 THE TRUCK STOP PLAYS
On the way to VoxFest, Karisa turned to me and asked if I wanted to do one of the plays in The Truck Stop Plays. When a director already has you in mind for a role, how can you say NO? I said: YES!!!! I love when the universe just provides for you. Just brings opportunities to your doorstep or to your email account. I read early drafts of the play as we were driving back to Chicago. Within a few weeks, Karisa and i were back at it. Except she was in the directing chair and I was walking with a limp and a southern drawl. The performances were a lot of fun. Low pressure. I felt I could show up and just pour 100% and not think about where these plays were taking me in my career. My biggest goal was to have fun and leave all the shame behind.
This is the first time in a year - where I don't have anything on the books. And I am grateful for that. I look forward to saying YES! I look forward to the unexpected surprises that are waiting to blossom. And I already had a director talk to me about potentially auditioning/casting me in an upcoming production. But, I will let the universe be my casting director. For now remember:
BE OPEN TO OPPORTUNITIES
THERE IS EVIDENCE ALL AROUND YOU THAT YOUR DREAMS ARE MANIFESTING
YOU ARE WORTHY - YOU ARE LOVED - YOU ARE APPRECIATED
Let me first tell you that so far today, I have been cast in a TV pilot being filmed in Chicago, two new streams of income appeared in my life and an audition that I didn't submit for came in from a major theatre company. What do you think I am focusing on? I'm focusing on the audition that I just went to and how I feel that I "messed up" or "bombed it."
It's such a tempting road to go down. The road of Beating Yourself Up. It's familiar. Well worn. I know all the twists and turns. But you know what is scarier for me? To actually take care of myself. To walk towards the positive things going on in my life. To care for myself. That's the road of the unknown. That's the Higher Road for me. Sometimes I would just rather go around complaining about everything and play the victim and just go hide from all of the world. That is no longer an option for me. As painful as loving myself can be, it's the best option. It's the one that will land me more roles. It's the option that will give me a chance. Here are my top 5 ways to love myself after an audition:
1. Call someone on MY TEAM
Who is on your team? YOUR TEAM? You know the people you can go to and just say all the crazy things in your head. People who you can trust. That won't judge. In fact, they usually will relate. It took me some time to find these people. To develop relationships and to just trust that they are exactly the people I need.
So after.... wait! ... Before an audition I call someone on my team. I tell them,
"I am going into an audition and that I am committing to experience shame when i come out of it. And that I want to leave all the shame and voices in my head outside the audition room. The shame and judgments and voices will be waiting patiently here when I return. And I will call you when I finish with the audition." This way I have contained the experience. I am not alone in my journey. And what happens is I get to show up more free and loose - because I am showing up as my authentic self.
2. Write Affirmations
The constant babble that goes in my head after an audition is this: You are not good enough. You are too dramatic. You are not good looking enough. You are TOO good looking. You need more scene studies. I am a better film actor (for stage auditions). I am a better stage actor (for film auditions). You were frozen. You voice wasn't deep enough. You had too much emotion. Not enough emotion...the list goes on and on and can continue way into the night.
So I write affirmations. I write positive things about who I am. A lot of times they are borrowed or from others compliments people have graced me with. Other times they are real general. And I just take out a notebook and write one page of affirmations. Maybe one day the affirmations will replace the babble - at least that is my goal.
Here are some you can use after an audition:
I am exactly where I need to be today
I love this journey and love being on this journey
This role or something even better
3. Detach from the Outcome
There are so many variables that go into casting: Hair color, the look, friendships the actor and director may have, the casting director is sick... all of these things are completely out of my control. The success is that I showed up. I showed up as me. And either that is what they want or it isn't. All I can do is show up as a professional and be me. The rest is out of my hands.
What helps me is knowing that with every NO I am that much closer to my next YES!!!
4. Go have FUN
After an supposed "bombing" of an audition - usually I go to the place of Do More. I need to read more plays. I need to memorize something else. Work harder. Do More. Then I go into my cave and just sulk the rest of the day/night.
But I think the best way to take care of myself after an audition is go have fun. Go hang out with people who aren't in the industry. Go to a BBQ. Go create fun somewhere. I think this is part of detaching as well. Go live in the joy. It's just an audition. It doesn't define my worth. There are an abundance of auditions on their way to me. Now go eat Ice Cream.
5. Focus on the Positive Evidence in Your Life
For you I'll give you a little peak into what has been the most powerful tool that I have been using.
At night, I write down all the evidence that my vision as an actor is actually happening. I write down the phone calls, the emails, the submissions, the table reads, the auditions, the compliments. Everyday something is going on in my life and I have the evidence. And the great thing is that everyday more and more evidence continues to show up.
Go ahead: Try it for 30 days. Write only the positive evidence that your acting career is moving forward. And then leave your proof in the comment selections or on my Facebook page.
I LOVE WHO YOU ARE. I LOVE WATCHING YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY. I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE GIVING YOURSELF THIS GIFT OF BEING HERE. YOU ARE WORTHY OF EVERYTHING YOU WANT. THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH ME YOUR LIFE. YOUR COURAGE TO SHOW UP AS YOU IS SO INSPIRING!!!!!
First thing you see is a headshot of me from 6 years ago. The session consisted of me looking at the camera with one pose. Over and over. Not smiling. It was a little rough. Then I finally smiled.
I was so incredibly excited and scared for this blog. I'm getting ready for another headshot session. So this gives me a chance to show you all these proofs from my last headshot session with Brian McConkey. Looking at them this morning, I kept hearing the voice in my head say, "Who do you think you are? Why are you showing everyone these terrible pictures? Are you really going to show "The Maker" pose?" But if there is one thing I love about this blog - it's an outlet to do scary things. It's lets me really put myself out there. So, YES, voice in my head - I have every right to show these pictures. (They made me laugh this morning as I was looking at them.)
And with every headshot session, there are certain things that every actor has to align. From clothes to haircuts to a photographer. How do I choose the right photographer (I went with Chris Popio)? Do they use natural light? When do I need to shave so that I have just the right amount of stubble?
All these things are ways for me to avoid the actual joy of the upcoming photo shoot. I love to obsess over details. Trying to perfectly lay it out. But where is the room to breathe? Or grow? Or have Fun?
So these are 5 things that have been in the forefront of my thinking. That I am hoping, if I turn over, I can also release them to the universe - and go have Fun in the photo shoot!
1. Pulling Faces
I watch a lot of professional cycling. And when the cyclist has reached the outer limits of their bodies, their faces go from relaxed concentration to mutated agony. They call it Pulling Faces.
Pulling Faces for me, looks like this. I am standing on a corner and I jump into this imaginary photo shoot in my head. I tell myself that if I tilt my head, relax my eyes and half smirk - it will be the best headshot ever! Or I'll be in the car and catch myself in the rearview - intense eyes, hair slightly messy, sunlight in the stubble - Golden! I create all these looks that I think be will what "they" want.
But Pulling Faces, doesn't include Chris and his camera. It doesn't include our relationship. So what can I do to just show up as me? Maybe first I could leave my ego outside. Trust that Chris is the person perfect for me, to see Me. Believe that I am enough. That seems the most powerful and scary - That I am enough. Not any certain head tilt or eye gaze is going to perfectly embody me - just me being me is going to embody Me.
Allowing myself to purchase clothes this round, instead of just going to the thrift store was a huge step for me. Mind you, I still have the tags on the clothes. But to give myself permission to buy new clothes for the photo shoot was a huge step in progress.
I also had a plan. I got outside help from Marie P Anderson of Agency Galatea, who had given me a list of colors and styles to work with. And talking with Chris during our consultation also helped. Plus I bookended the purchases of the clothes with my friend Jimmy, calling him before and after. So I could leave the shame outside in the parking lot. The voices that told me that I can't afford this - even though the money was there. I took in a lot of help. In the past, I have even had someone with me as We shopped (Thanks Dawn!!).
Get support! Take the support! Leave the voices in the car.
3. Body Image
Mirrors. Mirrors. Mirrors. My mind is a little crooked around my body image. One moment I can look at myself in the mirror and see a healthy stomach. The next I have let my stomach grow into a huge mound. My arms go from flabby to toned to skinny in a blink of an eye. My face is retaining water - to my face is red and veiny - to my face is a wrinkled scarf.
What is the truth? Who do I believe? If I was to go to someone and ask them to tell me the truth of what they see: I seriously doubt I could hear their description of what they said, unless it was that I was fat and out of shape.
If I have learned anything over the last few years and hours and hours of therapy - is to not listen to those voices. It's not true. So what can I do in my lead up to the photo shoot? Not look in the mirror? OR - what about exploring the gentle voice of love and compassion? That maybe my body is exactly what casting directors are looking for! That this is a HEADshot not a BODYshot. That however I show up is exactly right for this time and place.
What haircut do I want to have for the next two years? If I cut my hair this way, will it be versatile enough? Is this haircut me?
What is fascinating to me, is that as an actor I want to be seen. I want people to notice me. I want to be the center of attention. But what counters that is the desire to hide. To blend into the background. To be invisible. To be small. It's a war inside my head. I also recognize from experience, that as soon as the headshots are done, I will feel "trapped" into this haircut for awhile. I just tell those voices - thank you for sharing.
Instead of listening to my thoughts, I put my haircut into other people's hands. Marie and I discussed an All-American look. We found pictures. I sent those pictures to Ludwig - my hair stylist. Then I try to let go. I cut my hair seven days before the shoot. All I need to do is show up to the shoot with clean hair and let the rest just happen.
5. Showing up as My Authentic Self!
The day of the shoot - this Friday - I plan on going for a long run that morning. My game plan is to come in a little tired physically. My theory is that it will relax me. That I will get out of the way. Using that cool running buzz to just chill my way into the session. I know that I will have enough nervousness and excitement and coffee running in my veins. I also plan on writing out some affirmations for myself. Part of my inside work. Just reaffirming the progress I am making with my acting career in getting new headshots. And then - Just Show Up! Be Me! Have fun! Dance! Laugh! and interact with where my life is taking me.
I love where you are going with your life. I love how you show up each day. I love who you and where you are at in your journey. I honor the courage it takes to just be you. The courage to truly make yourself vulnerable to the world. And I am here to say - You are Worthy of the Life you Crave!!!
Ryan David Heywood is an actor and writer and the creator of the The Self-Loved Actor Workshop.
Lately, as it has been so cold, I haven't been able to run outside like I usually do when the weather is nicer. So I have been getting up and putting on TED talks. Something that I can have playing in the background while I get ready. My thinking being that "it's getting in there." Whether I actually process it consciously or unconsciously - my brain is receiving the input and using the information. So why not start my day with healthy doses of life. I am including three links to videos that I have been listening to.
I am also including a picture of my Vision Board. What is a Vision Board? I will let you define/research that one for yourself. But I see it as my compass. It's where I want to go. It allows me to dream big. As I pull these fantastic images all together I get this feeling of happiness. Of Hope! Of surprise! Where is my life going! I am so excited to see where we are heading!
I take some magazines that I bought. Usually movie related issues. Throw in some Dwell or a science magazine. Then I spend an hour cutting our images and words. Things that make me happy. People I want to be. Clothes that look fantastic. Anything that will bring joy when I look at.
One day after creating the below Vision Board - my life basically got flipped upside down. I was yanked out of my comfort zones. The universe rearranging my life to start aligning with my vision board.
Please surround yourself with reminders of your greatness! Because you ARE!!
I can't say enough about this talk by Brene Brown. It's a game changer. And as actors we want to look at how we are operating. Both on stage and even most importantly off stage. Having the courage to show up to auditions. Having the courage to make those phone calls. Having the courage to fail. Having the courage to love and be hurt. This is what truly makes us great. The more opportunities we can have to make ourselves vulnerable - the stronger we will become as actors.
And I am simply restating what she talks about:
The old myth has to be shattered that Vulnerability is weakness. Because the truth is Vulnerability is strength.
Our Body Language!
As actors we think we are in control of our bodies and how we present ourselves to the world when we are on stage or in front of the camera. But what about the audition room? What are we telling our bodies before we go in? And I am not talking about the posturing that happens out there. Amy Cuddy talks about job interviews - and isn't that what an audition is - so if we apply her findings to our actor lives - what will be discover? I don't know about you - but I want to walk in feeling confident. i want to bring my full self. Am I doing that? What is something so simple that I only need to do it for 2 minutes before I show up? (Fake it til you Make it!!)
Tracey Letts gives an incredible talk on creativity. This has really helped me in my approach to writing and just being creative. I started to look at what I was surrounding myself with. How was i checking out? I began to let myself daydream more and more. Letting ideas in. And not judging them. Somewhat revolutionary for me.
Tracey Lett's Talk during Chicago Idea Week
I will leave you with this:
I love you. I love that you have the courage to be you. I love what you are doing right now with your life. You are exactly where you need to be in this very moment. You are on your path and it is so beautiful to watch from this point of view. i won't stop loving you. You can't make me. I love you unconditionally. I believe in you. I believe in your potential. But most of all: I love you!
1. Action steps. 2013 was my most successful year to date as an actor. I think a couple of things aided in this. A) I started calling myself a professional actor and referring to myself as one. B) I made a timeline of milestones and goals for myself so I knew where I was along the way. What does this look like? i wrote out what I wanted the end of the year to look like for 2013. Then I wrote out where I was currently. Divided the year in half - what would it look like to be halfway to my year end vision? And then divided that again. What would it look like to be half way to my half way point. And what action steps would I need to get there? It helped to have action to continue moving forward. It may not have happened the way I planned it, but a ton of things I wrote out happened!!!!
The Thriving Artist Circle helped me out a ton in my thinking and my planning and Dallas Travers!!!
2. The Night of the Iguana. This was a huge production. I learned so much about putting up a big show. Having an extension. Working with a large cast. How to show up every night and bring it. The friendships. The rehearsal process. I was cast in the beginning of January and our last show was at the end of May. Wow! That is a long time. I am just so grateful to have been part of this show!
3. Short Films. I was making jokes that I needed to open an office on Wabash near Columbia College because it felt that i was down there every other week for auditions for short films. But it was worth it. That corridor netted me being cast in three short films. Scotty Works Out, Self-Deportation, and Some Are All White (working title). And the experience I have gained from shooting these films is incredible.
4. Tracy Letts and Michael Shannon. Every time I see them, i am reminded that I have to keep raising the bar here in Chicago to do them proud. I really look up to both of these men as Actors and Writers. As artists!! And want to make them proud of the art that is coming out of Chicago! Chicago Actors - time to step it up!!
5. You! I am grateful for you. The reader of this blog. The audience member. The supporter of love and joy. Thank you for being here. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for letting me be human in front of you. Thank you for letting me rant, brag and boost about my achievements. If you were not here there would be no here. You are amazing!! And You are here! And i am grateful!
I am ready for you! I am excited for you! Surprise me! Surprise me! I am ready to be big! I am ready for what you got!!
I have performed in 4 festivals and am about to put number 5 into the belt notch collection. So yes, this is partially self promoting the show, and also a semi gratitude list of all the benefits of doing a One-Act festival. ALSO!!! I am including a bunch of Robert Redford photos. I worked with my hair stylist Ludwig, and these photos were the basis and inspiration for the haircut. I just couldn't let them go without sharing them all with you.
1. Stage Time. The biggest and best reason do one act festivals is stage time.
Let's face it - as an actor we need stage time. It's precious. I never understood this while I was doing improv. All we needed was a few chairs and a few friends watching us and there was show. I did some time in the "bar-prov" scene. But stage time where you let the lines live in you and you doing the same script over and over again. This is a great place to get this precious community.
2. Networking. With One-Act festivals, for each one-act there is a writer, a director and your fellow actors. There are usually 6-8 one-acts. Plus the stage manager and artistic director curating the entire festival. So that's 30 to 40 people who get to see you work. (They also see you be a diva - so be sure to show up and be professional) You never know when you will walk into an audition and there will be one of those people on the other side of the table. It seems the longer I do this, the more important relationships and the building of them is very important!!!!
3. Tiny Play. You get to go through the entire experience of putting a show up. But in half the time. Sometimes even faster. Maybe it's been a while since you have been in a production? These little plays is the production process on cocaine!! It goes really fast, and then all of sudden it's opening night. Which is basically like a full production play - all of a sudden it is Opening night. It's go time.
4. Low Pressure. I'm not saying to not be professional. In EVERY situation please show up as a Professional. It's part of believing that you are a professional. But the stakes are low. Your friends will be in the audience. They want you to succeed. You get to discover your pre-show process. Your preparation. You get to flub lines and learn to deal with the shame after the show and how to pick yourself up and bring it. Basically these one-act festivals teach you how to show-up every night and deliver the goods consistently.
5. Fun and Experimentation!! More than likely, your one-act play will be the first time it has ever been on stage. There is no movie that has been done before. No You-Tube clips. You will be breathing life into these characters for the first time. For myself, that is incredibly exciting. The writer is excited to see what you can do with their words. And you get some creative license as an artist to CREATE!!! As an artist and an actor this is the sweet spot!!
Go out there! Audition audition audition!!! Get that stage time! Start treating yourself as the professional you are.
5 WAYS OF AVOIDING WRITING A BLOG ENTRY FOR YOUR ACTING WEBSITE
Getting started writing an entry in your blog, can be one of the most grueling and paralyzing things to do for an actor and his website. Here are some of the ways we actors try to avoid creating content for ourselves on the internet.
1. To-Do Lists
I am an expert at To-Do lists. I love making them. I love crossing off items. I love love love them. And even when I am half way through a to-do list, I will pull out a new index card (my preferred to-do list medium) and create a nice fresh list. And this is exactly what I do with the blog entry. I put it on the list, then just carry it over to a fresh list. And the cycle begins. After which seeing this item on the list being carried over and over creates shame. I wonder if I love shame just as much as I love to-do lists. Because I seem to create a lot of it.
2. Post it on a list of action steps towards your career
I am a big believer of action steps. In fact, I keep them in plain sight of my everyday live. Right there on a bulletin board above my desk. But what happens is a sort of burying effect. The action step of writing a entry on my blog, gets swept aside. Lost between mailing PR casting an updated resume and emailing Matthew Miller for the third time in two months about the short films I have been cast in. Now granted, any action step is a good action step, but some action steps are just bullies. They beat up other action steps that can't stand up for themselves. I need to teach the blog entry action step how to land a right hook.
Who doesn't love coming home from a hard day of running around and chasing your dreams to sit in front of the TV and watch Netflix? Tell me. Who? Do you think I could have spared some time between watching the entire season of Orange is the New Black and fixing pot stickers from Trader Joe's to write a blog entry? My first thought is NO. I really needed to see how Red was going to be able to get the next shipment of produce from Neptune's Garden. And pot stickers are delicious. Maybe the bigger question, isn't if Netflix is the vaccum of all creative dreams your drama teacher warned you about, but what should I watch next? (If you say Breaking Bad, I will cut you!)
4. Create a Blog Folder
You know what. I'm going to create a blog folder. A cheap man's version of the app Evernote. And whenever I see a image. Read a quote from David Mamet. Have a flash-fart of an idea to write about. I will keep it all in one place. Yes, the problem is that I don't have my creative equator centralized. I'm all over the place. Yes. Having a folder that says Blog Ideas will be the sure fire way for me to write an entry on my blog. I mean, I know it's buried deep in my Acting Vision folder. Which is part of several folders in my Documents folder. But at least I know where to find it. Can't have it live on the desktop. Because that is just asking for trouble. Soon I'll have a junkyard of folder "ideas" swimming in OCD hell on the desktop. Can't have that. What is interesting is the time and energy I just put into creating a Blog folder would have taken me the same amount as actually writing a blog entry.
5. Accountability Partner
You know that person you trust. That person who will call you out on your character defects. Hey Person I Trust, I give you permission to call me out on my bullshit. If you want to get things done. These people are amazing and crucial to have on your side. But if you want to avoid getting anything done. Put calling them to be accountable for your blog entry on your to-do list, heat up some pot stickers and fire up Netflix. Call them and ask how they are doing. Text them about the weather and just never get to the real dirt. Because if you actually tell them you are asking to be accountable and you don't follow through, here will be some of the phrases you use to cover you avoiding writing the entry: "At least I showed up," "I'm much more like the tortoise than the hare," I'm making headway towards writing that blog entry for my acting website just by having you in place."
Set a calendar reminder on your smart phone
Read other people's blog: Jay Olson!!
Post It Notes
What am I really saying? Sometimes I just simply need to do the work. Action sometimes just requires action. Simple as that.
Are you a Self-Loved Actor? Some insights on taking care of the actor and the person....