“Confidence is overrated, give doubt a try.” – Anna Deavere Smith
After a few days to process, I am finally ready to write about the life changing moment in my life. I first have to say thank you God for this moment. Thank you to everyone that donated to my dream and shared the GoFundMe post.
Anna Deavere Smith’s Personal Narratives, Global Identities workshop in San Francisco this June 2014 changed the way I see art and life. It changed the way I see the audience and more importantly it changed how I view myself. It inspired me to move further in my artistic career. It taught me to challenge boundaries. It taught me that courage and bravery lead to phenomenal pieces of work. It taught me that because of the increasing addiction/obsession of technology actors have become two-dimensional on stage and screen. As people we no longer observe each other as full beings. Our noses are constant pre-occupied by Facebook Likes, Tweets and Emoji’s.
The most important lesson that I have carried from this workshop is that it allowed me to explore the parts of myself that I locked away. The parts that I am embarrassed and frightened to share, the unpleasant bits of trauma and grief that I so expertly wrapped in a beautiful Macy’s ribbon and learned to deal with. I have learned how to be confident, by watching such a long linage of women who have broken their backs to attain their dreams. In this workshop I was forced to live in the unknown. I was forced to live in the immediacy of the moment. Through movement, voice technique, profound teachings from Anna Deavere Smith and the PHENOMENAL faculty she had on board I developed the artistic courage to tell my story in front of a huge crowd of audience members.
I was in a class with 40 individuals from all walks of life. Some included: performers; doctors; former inmates; cops; surgeons; attorney’s; teachers and so much more. That was the “Global Identities” portion of the workshop. Learning in a community of people with such diverse backgrounds and their stories truly opened me up as an actor, because I feel at times as artists we only hang around people that are like us. Anna calls it being an “artistic snob.” We hang around people that understand us, because it is safe. But, like I said earlier this truly tested the boundaries.
What Happens to The Body Image Project Now?
I will complete the Body Image Project in February 2015 and will publish the script at that point. I am currently working on my second one-woman show that will be based on a particular experience I endured in North Philadelphia whilst in college.
Whilst at the workshop, I began writing a lot. A lot of people wanted me to include my personal story in the Body Image Project. So I have been interviewing family and close friends. Trying to keep it safe. Since the workshop dealt enforced bravery and courage I began to interview the people in my life that have shaped me in a joyful, painful and/or traumatic way.
A recent Interview with someone who shaped me:
I interviewed someone recently; his story will be included in the final workshop of The Body Image Project this winter. We were friends. We shared a voracious love in music. We played hard and imagined harder. We loved to drink. I have never been so transfixed by another human being before in my life. We were in a whirlwind, spinning out of control and drinking to heal our common loneliness. At that time in my life, he was someone I loved possibly more than I loved myself.
So in the interview I found out that he is insecure and struggles with feeling “enough.” I can definitely relate to wanting to feel “enough.” Is my career “enough?” Is my life “enough?” Are my friendships “enough?” Is my body “enough?”
In my opinion, to feel enough means to grown up. To make difficult decisions. To find peace in the things that encourage you and make you happy. To feel enough, means to stop competing with others and to find the gems you have been blessed with.
Those relationships of my past have affected my body image in such a tremendous way. I look in the mirror sometimes and see what went wrong. I see love. I look in the mirror and see: the past; the drunken nights; the days of trying to find peace in someone else. We can learn the greatest lessons from our mistakes. The past is the past. I cannot allow the past to strangle my future.
The Body Image Project has become personal after taking the workshop. I write this blog, and do this show for anyone who may be struggling with finding the definition of the word beautiful. Finding beauty in yourself can be really hard, but if you find a glimpse of it hang on to that. You will always be “enough.” My pastor reminded me today, God wipes the slate clean. A great future is ahead. Continue on and step into your greatness.
We had to do an exercise at the workshop and write the words we never got to say to someone.
To this man in particular,
I would say-
“I wish you the best. Learn to live for others. Learn to listen to others. I am honored to have known you and am grateful for the lessons I will take away from our friendship. If I never said it- know that I loved you to the point where my heart could burst. You were always there when I needed you. I believe in your talent sometimes more than I believe in my own, because you are fearless. That is something I learned from you. Find peace in knowing you are enough. Allow your talent and hard work to speak for itself. Do not allow your past to strangle your future and I hope one day you can become the man you dream to be. Wishing you the best on your journey. Thank you for shaping me as a human being.”
Actor | Playwright