Saturday, February 9, 2013

Acting Advice from Jessica Chastain to the drama school graduate.

Today, I had a life-changing experience.

To update you first: I have done 3 out of 6 auditions. All of them have taught me much more than I could've asked for. Especially Juilliard - which I didn't get into. I've since realized (and it's taken me the full week to realize it completely) that it's probably a blessing in disguise. I was bruised and battered and buried under the reality of it my 'failure' and guess what? I'm still here. I'm still alive. And I will win if you bet I haven't learnt one of the most important lessons for an actor to learn:

"Right after The Tree of Life (2011) came out, I started hearing about strategies for my career. And I made a decision that I wasn't going to do anything based on a strategy. If I don't continue to challenge myself and risk failure, I have no business being an actor. I'm not an actor to be a personality. I want to see every part I take like a master class. And you know what? I'm going to fail sometimes. And that's OK. Because when you fail, you learn more."
-Jessica Chastain.

Since my Juilliard audition, I've had a lot of ups and downs trying to figure out what I can do to be better. And so many ideas run through my mind but I can't do it all and I have to be clever when it comes to designing my 'practice' because another thing I've learnt up here at the 'centre of the universe' is that there are millions more just like me trying to do what I want to do.

By the way, beautiful brainiac, Jonathan Sierck recommended this book to me and it's brilliant and if you nodded your head even subconsciously while reading that last sentence, you should read it:

So, here I am, left with trying to work out how to do this because I am hell-bent on doing it and doing it properly. I joined Juilliard's mailing list (before the audition... awkward) and a few days ago I got a mail from them advertising an exclusive 'Conversation with Jessica Chastain' at Lincoln Centre, Friday 3pm.

Wow. I went on my own today to experience (because 'listening', 'observing', or 'attending' would not do this justice) Jessica Chastain speaking about everything from going to Juilliard, through her many incredible films, her methods and challenges, to fellow actors and directors, projects, theatre and work ethic. At the end there was a short Q&A and without preparing or deciding to actually ask a question, my hand shot up and they selected me to ask her - best actress nominee - anything I wanted.

And the first question that came to mind (probably because of how much thought I'd given it for the past week) was at 52:30 in this live recording of the conversation. And the answer, so simple and brilliant, has catapulted me psychologically to where I need to be to make it happen for myself.

"Do the work when no one's watching."

And I will thank her to her face on the other side of the work.



  1. A very inspiring words from Jessica Chastain! This is what motivates me. And I won't hesitate to share this article Definitive Guide to Making a Professional Résumé for Your Acting Jobs
    that I just read recently and I think would be a big help to those aspiring actors and actress who just want to be like Jessica. This is just a basic steps, what matter most is you keep on trying and never give up on your dreams.

  2. The stage is sacred. It is where you lay the landscape of your imagination, where God is in the details, and where life and death and all of one's happiness can exist and not exist with a single gesture.