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Bring Your Vulnerability

So much continues to happen in the world- violence, chaos, division, grief.  So much suffering everywhere. Even for those of us who aren’t directly affected, the result can be paralyzing as the daily triggers play on repeat. And for actors, most of whom are wonderfully hypersensitive, the weight of it all can take its toll. It can make you want to cave in, get silent, hide your head in the sand. But you can’t. You have jobs to book and a world to change.  And art can do that. Your art can do that.

So, it’s at this point- the crossroads of suffering and hyper-sensitivity- that we want to look for ways to stay the course, to keep on keepin’ on, ways to show up for our work and the people in the world who need us. “You gotta stay strong,” they say. You gotta suck it up, suit up and show up. And sure, there are times when you have to push emotion to the side and get things done. But this largely patriarchal notion of only managing suffering by “toughening up” and suppressing emotion may not be the healthiest way. And I know this way. I spent many many years trying to destroy my own vulnerability, my own softness because I was taught that it was worthy of shame and got in the way of taking action to solve the issue, the source of the suffering.  But now I know that isn’t true. It’s largely the product of fear and fragility, passed down through the generations. Through art, I’ve learned that for hyper sensitive people looking to navigate their way through a violent world… there is another way.

Actors know the power of vulnerability. They know that the expression of their vulnerability is what moves people on an emotional level. The honest expression of your unique emotional life in a scene is what wins an audition room. It’s what reminds people in that room of their own humanity. It is your superpower. So in these powerful days, these days of challenge when it feels like the tires are all about to pop, you must not check your vulnerability at the door. You must not leave it locked in the basement. Now more than ever, the world needs your vulnerability. Your vulnerability is clear evidence how deeply you care. It informs your intention and leads to powerful, mindful action. So, don’t harden up. In the eye of the storm, standing at the foot of the mountain, when you’re toe-to-toe with a horrible monster- or worse, an unfeeling, uncaring system or industry- stay soft and sit grounded in the immense power of your vulnerability. Ice breaks. Water moves, and given enough time washes away mountains.

So the work then is not trying to create calluses, fortifying walls, making yourself more rigid. The work is to nurture your body, mind and spirit so that they are soft and elastic. So that they can absorb and rebound. The work is finding compassion in yourself so you can see it in others- even those who aren’t seeing yours. The work is filling your own tank as much as possible- self care, self love- so you can be more vulnerable, more honest in the world.

Look, I don’t know how you walk through the world, the challenges you face. I can’t understand the specifics of your experience. So, it is disingenuous for me to demand that you let your guard down. Your guard may be there for a very good reason. I will say, though, that no matter who you are, or where you are, you posses within you the ability to tap into the universal vein of the human experience. The expression of your unique emotional experience in the world is essential to transforming suffering into peace, it’s what makes art great, and yes, it’s what books work.  So, put up your guard when you need to. But no matter what happens, do not let them rob you of your softness. It is inextricably linked to your very humanity. It’s precious. You need it. We need it. So, bring it with you.


Explore your Vulnerability in class at BGB.

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