I wrote in a previous blog about finding my tribe, a place where I felt comfortable and safe where I could be myself. Last night our acting class had its first student showcase. I admit I am not the most confident person when it comes to this acting game, but I figure that’s where the acting training comes in. You know fake it till you make it type of ish. Low and behold me and my partner did very well with our scene and we got great reviews.
That part is nerve-racking due to the simple fact that you never know how people will react to any art you will produce. I had to pee 3 times waiting to go on, it was jitters i think or the water that came out of nowhere. I believe the hardest part of this journey that I had to take was the belief in myself that I could do well. In many cases I’m around people who tell people what they want to hear but not give constructive feedback. I hate that, if I suck let me know I feel that’s the only way I can learn and move forward ( I may look at you funny from time to time but its all good).
10 minutes before show time I have my script in my hand and this thought in my head. PLEASE DON”T FUCK THIS UP! Gospel music is playing in my head and the light comes up, we do our scene and do fucking GREAT! I’m genuinely surprised that I remembered my lines and didn’t trip and fall off the stage. Prior to this showcase I had various classmates voice to me what my strengths were and I really couldn’t hear the compliments and receive them in short because I felt I didn’t deserve them.
“Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all”
Well Whitney it’s not THAT easy, it takes work sister girl and by the way (miss you lots). I’m getting to that place slowly and after last night I took a deep breath and let it pour in. You did well brutha man and you deserve all the accolades you’ve received because you’ve worked your ass off. I heard for the first time what my classmates were saying all along. It warmed my heart and filled my eyes with tears that in conjunction with the divine I pray to every night I can love myself enough to NOT discount the good things that people say and dwell on those thoughts instead of the negative.
My tribe is full of creative, free-spirited, talented individuals and I could not be more proud to be in such company. I wish all of us much success in the future and thank you for opening the door to me discovering The Greatest Love of All.
P.S The logo I used is my school that I take classes at with kick-ass teachers, So if you’re interested in taking up acting in the Michigan area give them a call.
a: one who represents a character in a dramatic productionb: a theatrical performerc: one who behaves as if acting a part
Picture it, the year was 1992 a young man was reading the newspaper like any teenager would be doing. He sees a casting notice for a movie, Sister Act 2 to be exact and decides to ask his mom to take him to the audition. Her response “Naw boy, for what? Now you know you can’t sing.” Devastated with not getting the chance to try out, this young fella spends his teenage years loving an art form from afar not trying any arts because of those words from his mother. Putting all his feelings into writing was how he got through, reading every book on moviemaking, acting and the like while thinking one day one day.That young man was me.
For a long time my nickname in any game was Supastar because I knew I could do it, would do it. However those words (my moms) echoed in my head for a number of years and suffice it to say, you can’t be a supastar sitting on your couch eating Doritos. I tried it.I would tell some people my plans for the future because I could talk a good game like nobodies business but follow thru was/is not my strong suit. Years of being unhappy with where my life was going (working in a kitchen for the rest of my life, umm no thanks) and getting a college degree in a field that could make money but ultimately not something i wanted nor cared to do.I got to thinking.
Youre not getting any younger, you’re already Sallie Mae’s Lil bitch. Do what you need to do. (Shout out to Oprah and Deepak’s meditation series, it also helped me figure some things out). In January, I started taking acting classes. Scary at first because of the childhood ish I suddenly remembered but then I fell in like with it. in the second class it turned to love! The world was mines for the taking, no limits were on me. I did my first acting showcase and things were gravy!
Started a third class were part of the acting is done on camera and you get to see your performance for techniques and critiques. First class I almost had a nervous breakdown, is that me on the screen? No! Oh Hell to the Naw! WTF! I kinda knew going in that I don’t have the standard black hollywood male look (chiseled by gods with platinum tools). What kind of screen roles could I go for? Just negative thoughts invading my brain for the longest time. I decided I’d be a theatre actor, I wont have to see those performances right? The long rehearsal schedules are cool if that’s all you’re doing but with a 9 to 5, it gets rough.
I was on YouTube watching some performance videos and saw an interview with Mary Mary, in it one of the ladies say “He gave YOU a gift, he doesn’t want you to be anyone else. There’s already one of us, be you and do you.” I am paraphrasing here but the message is here. Just as I was asking my angels for a message to guide me through I come across this video. I’m sticking with this class and this art form. Hard as it may seem I will never look like Micheal Ealy or Shemar Moore ( the light-skinned acting brigade) and that’s gonna have to be ok.
I went out on a limb and signed up with some fellow school mates to participate in a 48 hour film challenge. Putting together a movie in 48 hours is no walk in the park. I enjoyed it and loved the experience. Watching myself on camera is gonna be another battle, im still not used to it. Cant I be one of those actors who does films but never watches them? I’m loving the creative people I get to meet through schooling and actual shooting. I call these time capsule moments. It may never happen again but in that time, in that place, everything was as it was meant to be.I’m liking my life more now, what a great feeling!
We are not friends yet but I hope to meet you in the near future. I just recently saw your movie Spy and I enjoyed it immensely to the point where I may see it again. (rarely happens for me, you know how much movie tickets cost nowadays?) As an aspiring actor I look for little facets of myself in people I watch on-screen and in you my dear I see a lot of me. I was told i’m naturally funny in acting class especially when im not trying to be, which could be good and bad. We shall see.
I do want to apologize because I never saw you on Gilmore Girls and up until recently never watched an episode of Mike and Molly. The movie is where you caught my eye. Bridesmaids was hilarious and pretty much you were my reason for buying the Blu-Ray. I think some others enjoyed your performance because hello Oscar nominee. I’m just saying. What brought this letter on you might be asking (or your assistant, depending on who’s reading your mail).
One of my local newscasters reviewed Spy and one of his comments was that he was sick of you playing the same character over and over in different movies. Youre an actress, I’m an actor so I get it but what a shitty opinion to have! First of all you play what you’re good at. Second I believe that there are so many layers to being a comedian especially a funny one that many people don’t realize there are subtle differences in each movie role. Would I love to see you put on makeup and play a deranged killer or a football loving mom who takes in a homeless kid, yes but I’m ready when you are.
Your physicality when tackling any role is awe-inspiring. I’m a big(er) black dude who is trying to get over my fear of letting my bigger size define who I am as an actor instead of just being in the moment, in the character and in the scene. It takes some of my emotion away when I’m worried about how I look instead of going full-tilt boogie at every turn. Its a process and I’m learning. Your performances on SNL are legendary in my book.
I saw Spy before I did my first acting showcase for school and watching you gave me confidence to be the best I can be in that moment and I believe it strengthened my performance for the better. Just know you have fans from all walks of life and are inspiring to us all. You are a divine treasure in this world and I’m so lucky to see you shine on that big screen.
Acting class is going well, the tribe are a bunch of awesomely talented group of people. Which brings me to my dilemma, how to stay confident in a group where you perceive that people are better than you with more experience. I have always had some issues with my memory and now memorizing lines just drives me bat-shit crazy. I rehearse with my scene partner, do good and get in front of the instructor and start to forget shit. You do realize that people do this type of stuff 8 shows a week with singing added!
I’m trying to be better at every turn and when I’m watching these amazing people my confidence drops a little. How to stay in a place of gratitude and confidence when you are in the company of performers? You see I havent had this issue before because I’ve never did something I wanted to do. I stay in my comfortable place and let life pass me by until this year. Acting has been a eye-opening lesson in so many ways, opening up to a lesson about myself.
My ego thought I would get in this class and kill it. The reality is that I’m new and I need training. Is it gonna come easy like it does to everyone else? Maybe or maybe not. I honestly thought of not going forward, not because I can’t afford it (I can make it work) but because I don’t wanna waste time on something I like versus finding something I love (writing and directing). It’s all confusing and I don’t wanna seem lost when I pretty much am. I was the kid who wanted to do EVERYTHING for a job.
How do I get out of this rut. Go to Acting 3 because it’s the last of the series and I can learn more, while putting what I’ve learned in my acting toolbox. Take a writing class and develop that skill. Take a directing class and develop that skill. Admit I’m scared shitless that the vision in my head of Joe Q Oscar Winner could never come? There’s a lot to think about before June 23rd when the next class starts.
When I was younger my aunt used to babysit me, everyday at 1pm I had to be quiet because the “stories” were on. What are “stories” you might ask, they are really soap operas but in black households they were called “stories”. Usually when asked what you are watching you would just blurt out the channel. My aunties channel was ABC. I grew up watching Loving, All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital. It kind of put a passion in me to wanna know how these people acted so crazy and or funny so effortlessly. It started me also thinking of storytelling in a way that was over the top (The classic catfight in the pool) or serious (Character dying from a disease). In a way it has shaped the way I write fiction and the hobby I’m pursing now.
This year ive decided to spend money on experiences more than mere possessions. I’ve always wanted to act, sing, dance, write , fashion design, architect, paint, be a world leader and a superhero. When I got older and self-doubt crept in, built a mansion, furnished it and would not leave I didn’t pursue what my passions were I pursued what others wanted me to be. That got old fast I tell ya. Depression decided to rent a room and the mansion got so crowded that something had to give. I slowly came to realize what wasnt working and went and made plans to fix it. I tried an acting class.
My expectations for acting 1 were high, I mean after all I watched enough soap operas to cry on cue or get angry with the snap of a finger. The focus was on individual preparation and completing a monologue. I did ok, my teacher kept saying more emotion. I thought I gave it all I had, ended up being so disappointed in myself that I declined to do the student showcase at the end of the semester. The next acting class was to focus on scene work with a partner and you HAD to do the student showcase. I’m no punk so I enrolled in acting 2.
One of the best decisions in my life. There are 5 students from the previous class so the comfort level was there, but add 11 more people from other classes and you get some of the most creative, inspiring people I’ve encountered in a long time in one room. 4 hours of laughter, fun and we are all there to learn and do a good job. It’s the one day of the week I look forward to, I can be my true self with no judgement. There’s no grades so there’s no competition and that takes a load off.
I encourage anyone reading this to pick a hobby/passion that you’ve abandoned for whatever reason and give it another try. Small steps are always better than no steps at all. I’m having a great time and I’m truly thankful.
You never know, you may see me on your movie or TV screen soon