Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walk a Mile In Your Shoes

For me, one of the most exciting things about being an actor is the opportunity to walk around in someone else’s shoes. A lot of people claim that actors don’t want to be themselves, that they are somehow uncomfortable in their own skin and thus, feel the need to take on that of someone else.

Oh, baloney. It’s not about not wanting to be me. I like being me. I like my life and I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world. But I act because one life lived in one lifetime is just not enough for me. There are too many experiences to be had. Too many roads to choose and paths to walk. I don’t want one of them. I want them all.

I wouldn’t want to be a lawyer every day for thirty years, but I’d really love to be one for six months while I film a movie. I wouldn’t want to be a doctor every day, but I would love to experience what it’s like to hold a heart in my hands and save a life. I want to be a deep-ocean marine biologist, but if I do that, I’ll never have a chance to open my own coffee shop. I want to own a ranch and spend every day working with animals and with my hands in the soil. But I can’t very well do that and then walk down Madison Avenue in a $3,000 custom suit, ready to negotiate a deal on the biggest account of my corporate life.

I want to go back in time and live without electricity or any other modern technology we take for granted, like the automobile. I want to travel to the future to fight intergalactic battles in zero gravity with technology that I’ve never even dreamed of. Granted, in films it’s all pretend, but when I’m in there doing my thing… it’s real to me. And if I’m doing my job well, when someone is watching, it’s real the to them too.

And it’s not just the optimistic side, there’s more than being a high powered executive or flying to the moon… I also want to see the underbelly. I want to experience the heartbreak of random violence, the betrayal of a lover, the fear of war and famine. I want to know how it would feel to be trapped in poverty in a broken home. What would it be like to feel cornered by the mob, pursued by the cops, or held against my will? I certainly wouldn’t want any of these as my own reality, nor would I wish them on someone… but there are people out there, living every day in one of those lives. I want to know those people and what they go through. I’m an actor because I want to spend time in every life that’s ever been lived. (Or ever will be.)

I was just approached by some budding filmmaker friends who are writing and producing their own short film. It’s a story of a girl who loses her way and turns to dancing and prostitution to make ends meet. The script isn’t finished yet, but it’s being written with me in mind to play the lead. I’m incredibly honored and excited to take on the role. Though it’s obviously something I would never turn to in my real life, I’m looking forward to finding the humanity in her situation and forcing myself to eliminate judgment and sympathize. Because there are women out there who are living that life. And I want to tell their story.

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