NORMAL 101 - why do we even bother?
I think everyone is pegged early on during elementary school as one "type". Then we get retagged as something else in highschool if you suddenly experience a growth spurt, get known for having "nerd" tendencies or "being good at drawing and stuff". After university/college or a few years working (or that trip you took around the world to avoid all of the above) you arrive at this moment of "what am I doing again?" Your friends change, your body might change (maybe for the better since you discovered exercise is not only for the jocks) and you have these obligations to fit into a niche based on who you're sharing appetizers with on weekends.
As an actor, I have lived a sneaky assault on stereotyping to remind fellow industry creatives that we are SUPPOSED to more like secret agents and not like pageant girls. I don't want to be the typical anything... I value those stories but I can't help but see films as motivational, inspirational and aspirational devices in the way that I want to consume and create them. If I want a great "day in the life of story" I walk outside my house and find a person in Venice who is not too baked to talk to me. I chat up the store owner on Abbot Kinney who just sold their kidney to open a store there. I share a table at the thai restaurant with corporate girl who just moved here from New York and hates the lack of bakeries. (I feel you).
The reality is in 2014, you can change your type as often as you want. Start by making new friends outside of your comfort zone. Learn how to ride a Harley. How to stand up paddleboard. Paint a dish bowl.
That very thing is what actors call "training the instrument"... you can get it all for free just by going out of your house after you finish this and talking to the first stranger you see. It's a dare. Do it.
Break out of being your own character. often. it will make you smart.
To be proper one minute, unexpectedly outspoken the next. This is what my grandmother used to call the art of an interesting life and self expression. But the truth of that "final result" is that it requires you to do some research and infiltration. Sitting at the fancy dinner with 5 consecutive salad forks. Diving after peanuts in that dive bar when you're playing some drinking game only known to five locals.
There is a magnetism in being dynamic between worlds.
In headshots, you normally only get to show allegiance to one... this is perhaps why I find them so challenging.. and why I love that Cara Delevingne always takes time after her Victorias Secret shoots to truly embrace the "WHATEVER" 5 year old dork. I think if you haven't found that dork, you need to hunt them down after your next corporate event or immediately after someone asks you to play "the boss" in some commercial about HP products. Get on a bouncy castle, try on some Halloween costumes of character from your childhood, make a sock puppet.
Unicorns are not the problem. We are.
I stand through the process of headshot with a potent 30 minute hard stop... this is when my most engaging "happy, interested and genuinely desirous" faces turn abruptly into "serial killer, ninja with a cause and righteous brat". Which is fine if the photographer is a friend or someone close enough to me to know that I don't respond to "stick this out" or "move a millimeter of your left nostril thata way".
The world will ask you to adjust, to CALM DOWN and (enter stupid command) but the reality of instinctive human expression is that it's good to get heated up about things you care about, it's good to yell at inanimate objects (then take time to write thought-out letters to those who have designed them), it's extremely healthy to debate and banter with people who want to make out with your face without first winning over the interest of your mind. It is commendable to speak up. It is sexy to be emotional. Equally admirable to apologize well if you overdo it a bit afterwards.
This is a magnificently open-source world we live in. You can literally learn anything you want, in any method you want, at any age, from most any location in most any demographic in the united states. This is the thing which technology HAS given us.. the challenge is your motivation and will power and value of those very special skills as things worth knowing and having. To get up, stand up... change the course of history by altering your impact on it.
LIke playing the harmonica. Or speaking Xosa. Understanding the constellations.
I stand at these moments of required "stillness for camera" and I let my mind wander to things which I think will improve the condition and overall experience of all humans around me. Ok sometimes I think about theme names for the next Provoke. I often find myself looking around a room in this situation thinking how lucky we are to live where we are and how much freedom we have to express that we never choose to take advantage of. That you or I can run down the street protesting pretty much any thing that we care about.. or yelling across the rooftops (to quote the character of one of my favorite film characters), and yet, we just don't.
Don't "stay calm and"... For your own legacy's sake, get up and do something brazen about a thing you care about. Write, photograph, talk or sing about it. That's the freedom we all have every morning that we wake up. It's like a mystery box of gifts from time and space. You live in a world wide audience that now is just as happy to entertain the musings of someone like you as they are to watch the movies someone like me has to go out and audition for.
It's slightly unfair. .but it can be very empowering.
I wrote this because I thought about it during headshots. And lemurs.