Tomorrow night a limited series will premiere on the CW Network that I had the good fortune to work on. Here’s how I was first introduced to my character Leanne: “ ...harried, hardened mother of Teresa who owns and operates the family grocery store. Even though she can be overbearing and sometimes a bit harsh, there’s nothing but love for her daughter underneath her cold exterior. She’s not afraid to do what it takes to protect the ones she loves, even if it’s from themselves.”
So, you know, a real sweetheart of a mother!
I had the chance to work with inspiring, fun and creative people. Including the prolific writer Julie Plec, the quiet force of nature David Nutter, the playful and supportive David Boyd (who I previously worked with on The Walking Dead and knew instantly was a kindred spirit) among many others. One castmate who stands out in particular is the actress Christina Moses. Her off-camera kindness was only matched by her on-camera skills. All of these people, and so many more, were sincere and kind and great to work with.
For me, Leanne came in bits and pieces, as is often the fate for a regional actor who is not #1 but #12 on the call sheet. And as frustrating as it can be to not get more information about a characters story arc out of the gate, it only makes the job of being fully present in the moment more important than ever.
And in the end, I think, it allows room for more truth in a crazy, made-up world.
Patrick Stewart – love of my life and one of my all-time acting heroes – shares an anecdote in a recent Nerdist podcast about the part of the actor’s job of “not knowing”. He gives the example of turning the key in the door to begin the grueling three-hour production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and that for him - the actor and character – that key turning in the lock is ALL he knows is going to happen. Anything that happens after that, he doesn’t know. The idea being, work diligently to know all that you can, then let it go and be fully present in the moment.
In our media-saturated, all-knowledge-with-little-wisdom-world it is almost unheard of to be so comfortable with not knowing. Knowing only where the jumping off point is and not what will happen after the leap.
My life (literally) from the beginning has been a lesson in the not knowing. It’s no doubt one reason why I will always be the most prepared person you ever take a trip with or work with. My sense of comfort in being fully prepared and fully present is what makes it possible for me to fully let go and trust.
Who knows what the outcome of this new show will be, I hope it means continued work for all of us that were involved. Perhaps someone will see something that causes them to consider being kinder or more considerate, or at the very least, to wash their hands on a regular basis! And while there are no guarantees anyone will watch this show, certainly critics will criticize and fans will be fans. My job was done months ago, now I can only watch and learn whatever it is I need to learn from this side of the experience.
Bottom line: I had fun going to work every day. I made it my intention to not get strung out on what I didn’t know and do the very best with what I did know. Turning that key, taking that leap, sometimes that’s all the universe needs me to do, the rest is a sparkly magical thing that I have little control over and thus have finally evolved to a place of acceptance and joy. It’s not for everyone, and trust me, I’ve worked with plenty of people who think it’s insanity to not have control over every moment, every line, every scene, etc. Those are not my people and thankfully, the majority of those I worked with on this job were my people.
So, here’s to another lesson in my book of life skills and another shout of gratitude from the rooftops that I got hired again to do what I love. Just another day in paradise. If paradise is a virus-stricken landscape with oozing grossness coming out of people while the city of Atlanta is put on lockdown! :-)