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.
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.
Are you a Self-Loved Actor? Some insights on taking care of the actor and the person....