Positive post-it notes and practical advice for actors

Your smile is a gift! Unless you’re a shark, or you never had braces.

Someone decided to put these up all over school. Instead of making me feel good, I the one about "are you a model" triggered an avalanche of suspicious thoughts. I nearly wrote a response post-it saying "Are you mocking me?"

I’m reading a book that’s meant to be for actors: “A Practical Handbook for Actors”. It’s one of the best self-help books I’ve ever read. In the first couple of chapters it covers something I struggle with in day to day life: what most people call “living in the moment”. See most of my problems are caused by this weird disjuncture between what is going on around me, and what I suspect is REALLY going on around me. In other words, while for many people life goes on, I spend most of my life with subtitles running around my head.


HIM: Hey mama.
(My inner voice: “I’ll never get used to being called Mama. In the US it’s a sexual compliment. At home it means literally, ‘mother’, Or at least ‘old enough to be respected as such.’ AWKWARD. I wonder if I should tell him? No, fuck it. Maybe on facebook chat, or in a blog, or something. Not now, I’m late for class.”)
ME: Morning baby.
(My inner voice: “In the light of what I think ‘mama’ means, this is creepy. Well at least he’s not really a breast man.That’s okay, I’m not mad about them either. But it’s a pity they have to be there all the time. Useless… specially since I’m never having kids. I wish I could just make them small and bouncy instead of big and annoying. I really need to consider whether my money would be better spent on plastic surgery than film school. Then again, maybe I’ll need them for something in future. I could live off them in a canibal situation, maybe. Is that gross? Not as gross as someone eating my leg. I guess I could remove them and freeze them, but that would cost a lot of electricity, so it’s probably cheaper just to buy something in a cannibal situation. Or eat someone else. Jesus. I’m so weird. I wonder if everybody has these thoughts. I wonder if he’d still love me if he knew how crazy I am?”)
HIM: What are you doing later?
(My inner voice: “I’ll probably go home planning to rewrite my short film but wind up watching a few films on netflix instead. Then later on I’ll wish I’d done something with him, because it’s not like trying to write actually achieved anything anyhow. Then again, he’s probably just asking cause he’s curious. He’s probably busy. Doesn’t he have class til 10?)
ME: I need to study. You?

Yes, no wonder I have trouble in relationships. When I was forced to act in a scene for Directing class recently, this problem became even more apparent. I had to seduce someone but was having trouble smiling because I was afraid of showing my teeth.

Maybe your smile is a gift if you're American - in other words, wore braces for four years and have a perfect movie star smile. It's impossible to tell who actually has good teeth here, cause everybody does. My smile is more of an invitation to laugh. Commentators on a news24 column recently spent a few hours discussing my smile and how it needed serious dentistry. Since then I try not to smile too broadly.

Erm. Stop it.

Anyhow, it’s not like I’m planning to do anything about my skew teeth, or anything else. So I’m going to try to take the advice I’m reading in this book. Be motivated positively. Don’t be manipulative. Do one thing at a time. Make sure your goals are clear. And remember to breathe. Just remember to breathe. Not too heavily or people will think you’re creepy. Also: “Don’t eat human flesh” should probably be in there somewhere. I guess it comes up in later chapters.

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2 Responses to “Positive post-it notes and practical advice for actors”

  1. Shannon Says:

    Love it, and glad you are blogging again. And yes, I had braces for four years; I remember my dad looking at a photo of me and two friends at our high school graduation (all of us had had braces at the same time, it’s a middle-class rite of passage) and saying wistfully, “There’s $6,000 worth of orthodontia in that photo.”

    Also, I think the “hey mama” is only an African-American thing (maybe Latino). If a white guy says it, he’s a wannabe. Also, he is creepy. My favorite take on it is “pssst…li’l mama.” No, dude, I am not breaking stride for that. Keep it moving.

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