Things I know now that I wish I'd known then…
Katie talks about some things she learned while a student of theater in Los Angeles.
Katie Sims, TMU contributor and senior at USC
So, I'm twenty-one this year. Which means that I get to legally drink this glass of Pinot as I write, sitting cross-legged on my chronically unmade bed, thinking back over the last three years. And it also means that, come May, I will be graduating from USC and joining the real world. Before that exciting/ scary time is upon me, I am attempting to sift through my crazy, over-stimulated brain to see what grains of knowledge I may have hopefully accumulated through my own creative trials and errors. Here's what I've stowed away for a metaphorical rainy day during my time in Los Angeles as a student of theater.
1) Mistakes are gold. (If you allow them to be.) In the past, I have at times been so frightened to fail that I made safe choices instead of courageous ones, and it severely limited my engagement in the story I was bringing to life. I was reminded of this recently when I had the opportunity to sit in on a Q & A with renowned director, Anne Bogart. During the colorful conversation she quoted Picasso who said, "The first stroke on the canvas is always a mistake. The rest of the painting is spent correcting that mistake." Don't worry about getting it right. Find contentment in the fact that you have made the first stroke. And then continue painting. It is a beginning, so be bold. 2) Stay hungry. Stay foolish. This point is one that I've had more success with due to the fact that I'm crazy-stubborn, don't like the word "no," and, most days, do things that make me look silly whether I mean to or not. Do not fall into the trap of taking yourself too seriously. Life is too short and all of us are too young to be jaded--ALL of us. 3) Find your tribe. (Of artists) Band together with people that share your passion and commitment to your art form. They will be the people that you call at 2 AM to talk about a play that you want to produce. They will be the people that revitalize you with a bottle of cheap wine and good conversation after a hard day of knocking on doors that nobody opens. They will be your collaborators, your partners in crime, and your family. But most importantly, they will challenge you to fulfill your artistic endeavors, no matter the size or scale. 4) Learn patience. Nothing worth having ever comes easily. In the same vein, acting is not for the faint hearted. It's a difficult, though incredibly rewarding, pursuit. I was once at an audition where I overheard a veteran actor say, "It's the ones with tenacity that make it in this business." Be tenacious, and keep on keeping on. 5) Hard work. Luck. Talent. My beloved professor and working film/TV actor for thirty plus years Joseph Hacker said this to my On Camera class day one. Do yourself a favor and commit it to memory. At least remember the first point. 6) The play is the thing. Read it. Re-read it. And then do it again. And maybe just one more time. Then rinse and repeat. Play it on repeat. Na-na, na-na, every day it's like my script is stuck on replay, replay - ay - ay - ay! 7) A little kindness goes a long way. People will remember a genuine please or thank you, a smile, holding a door open, telling a joke at your own expense. They will. I promise you. And try not to burn any bridges. You never know who will be walking into your life or sitting next to you on the casting couch. 8) Do things that scare you! This one is self-explanatory. I left a cute waiter (that I'd shamelessly flirted with over brunch) my phone number on the back of our check, and he never called. But I gained a serious adrenaline rush from it and $1.50 off of my egg white omelet! 9) Speaking words should alter you. When an actor is doing his or her job, it should cost them something. Written language is not passive but active. If we could see each line as an opportunity to get what we--Blanche Dubois, Hamlet, Mother Courage--want, then perhaps we'd speak dangerously. Live more fully. I keep feeling like I should have a so much more knowledge, but the fact remains that I'm still learning. I think that acknowledging that acting is a lifelong endeavor is another crucial piece of the puzzle, because it means that my learning and potential to grow creatively is endless. What an exciting thought.