Green Shirt Studio

5 Acting Lessons to Live By in the New Year


Robert De Niro

The craft of acting is full of valuable life lessons. So, for our last blog of 2016, Green Shirt co-founders Sommer Austin and Andrew Gallant, have put a list together of their top five acting tips to live by in the New Year.

1. You are enough
This is a great mantra to live by. We like it because it encourages you to accept the idea that you are truly unique, and that you shouldn’t compare yourself to other people. There is no one like you, and you should not try to be someone else. We often say to our acting students something that was said to us by our mentor, Larry Silverberg, and it is this: “The world doesn’t need another Robert De Niro or Meryl Streep — we already have the best Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep that we’re ever going to have. What we need is you.” Be true to yourself — that is what the world wants to see.

2. Embrace everything
Usually we teach this in the course of a Meisner “repetition exercise” when one is working with a partner, but the concept is also a wonderful one in terms of self-care and mindfulness. Embrace everything about yourself, where you are at today. Not the you that you were yesterday, but where you are at right now. So today you may have put on a few extra pounds or you may be feeling not-so-great… Fine, that’s where you are at today. No need to start picking yourself apart or engaging in negative self-talk. Can you learn to embrace yourself, all of yourself, where you are at today and in this moment right now?

3. Deny nothing
This is the second part to the “embrace everything” guideline that we teach in a repetition exercise. Again, usually it’s in conjunction with a partner — when you are aware of a new thing going on with your partner (or yourself), you must let that enter into the repetition. I think this can be a great life lesson for one’s self, too — don’t deny your feelings. If you are feeling something, it’s okay to really let yourself feel it. Only then are you able to, eventually, move on. If you don’t let yourself feel something fully you will be stuck — in acting, and in life.

4. Take the risk
It is all too easy to fall into autopilot in our lives, to never deviate from the most familiar and comfortable path. Don’t be one of those people who leads a life of quiet desperation! Take the risk! Most of the things worth doing are difficult. There are no sure bets and success is not guaranteed. But the alternative to risk is stagnation, a withering on the vine. Life is meant to be experienced fully and there will always be risk. So ask the person out, or start the business, or go back to school, or quit the job, or make the thing! Your life will become more meaningful because of it.

5. Act with courage even if you are afraid
Courage is not the absence of fear. True courage is accepting that you are afraid and not letting that fear keep you from taking action. You don’t have to be fearless to be an actor or to be a person. That you are afraid isn’t what counts, it’s that you don’t let fear paralyze you. Being afraid is actually a great indicator that you are doing something right. Steer into your fear, let it be your compass. And then take the leap.