Tuesday, October 19, 2010

RAVEN: coming to a theater near you!

I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I woke up at about 2am and had a very long and animated conversation with myself. How did I get so worked up?

It started six years ago when I got a part in a film by Juan Azulay. Since then, I have booked a few roles in television, toured all over the country doing spoken word, produced a poetry slam, and am nearing completion on my memoir. When Juan was casting another film about a year ago, we got back in touch. I told him I was writing monologues based on my memoir and I sent him a few. I wanted to know if he was interested in directing me, my plan was to make shorts to augment the electronic version of my book.

What I have always loved about film is the collaboration between various artistic disciplines. I realized this was a natural way to combine my interests and my skills-- I could finally put it all together. In addition, I'd get to layer that with the talent of others--the director, the set decorator, the wardrobe designer, the other actors, the editor, the composer--and the result would be a richer experience for the audience. But I knew it was risky.

Years ago when I was a reporter in Savannah, GA I interviewed Director Robert Altman who told me that he owed his success to having put together the right team. As I began this adventure, I kept thinking about that, and the magic I had seen on-set when Altman was recording The Gingerbread Man. So many times over the last couple months, I wanted to throw in the towel. The permits! The insurance! The SAG paperwork! Oy. But once I had put the project in motion, an extraordinary team appeared, like a band of angels to carry me along.

An acting coach once told me that my "myth," the lesson I am here to work out in this lifetime, is about risk. It made sense. Not only the risks I do take (some of them inadvisable) but the ones I can't or don't, the little moments where I want to say something and I hold my tongue, the other moments where I say something I wish I hadn't.

Saturday night, after our first day of filming, I found myself caught up in one of those moments: did I take the risk of speaking up? did I take the risk of trusting? did I have a point to make or was I just being a crazy actress? I went back to sleep about 4:30am and when I got up at 6 I decided that the right thing was to show up and kick ass and that everything else would work itself out. If I wasn't happy with my own performance, there was only one person who could change that: me. I had to risk trusting the team I had invested in.

I am happy to say that I made the right decision. It's amazing what making art will teach you about life, about relationships, and about who you really are. I guess it's true what they say: "leap and the net will appear." Cheesy, yes, but true as it turns out. Very true.

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