In times of tragedy, when a long-oppressed people are targeted by a warped mind determined to silence the beautiful expression of Pride for a community that requires it to survive in a heteronormative world, we are left wondering what can be done.
What could an actor possibly do?
Actors, and artists alike, have power. In spite of the more recent view of the actor as a shallow, vapid celebrity, with an inflated self-worth and lusting only for validation, we know different. And it is during these moments when actors reveal themselves.
An actor’s deep sensitivity, and facility with the expression of the feelings that result, allows them to have an understanding of humanity that most do not. And we believe that comes with a responsibility. Yes, you’re here to book that series regular role on a TV show. But we believe that you, the actor, have a responsibility to fully occupy that space that countless artists have occupied before you. As truth-teller, as healer, as teacher of humanity.
Here are three things actors can do in times of horror like the expression of hate that was launched against the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando.
1. Actors are uniquely equipped to process and express feelings. Where most people run from anger or sadness, an actor is trained to take the full force of the emotional consequence of most situations, be affected by it and express it through art. And in that, the rest of the world feels through you. It is the actor’s responsibility to bare the brunt of the feelings in the world and help everyone else process them. You can be an emotional leader. You can teach people that emotional expression is essential and beautiful. You can ease their pain.
2. You can continue to offer your unique humanity in your work in the interest of teaching even the most bigoted mind that our differences pale in comparison to our similarities and that the thread of humanity that runs through us all compels us to feel empathy for everyone’s struggle, to see the common humanity in each other. The expression of what is most unique about you helps you book work, but it also shows the rest of the world both your humanity and theirs. And bigotry dies in the face of common humanity. We are one.
3. Actors must speak truth to power or to anyone or anything else that might get in the way of truth. We have found that actors are uniquely equipped for social activism. Through art- a play, a movie, a video- or just a conversation, you can speak to your members of Congress, you can speak to your neighbors, and you can speak to your friends and family about the importance of tolerance, inclusion, and the exploration of humanity and truth in all its wonderfully diverse forms.
Beyond that, you can demand that the industry- YOUR industry- represent humanity in all its forms. You can demand that your industry normalize humanity in all its forms.
To book work or to change the world for the better, actors must be leaders.