A Beginner's Mind

I love beginners. I love it when brand new people show up in my class that have never had an acting class or been on a set before or know anything about anything regarding the business. You know why? Their cup is empty. They are not full of knowledge, skill, opinions, doubts, career-crises, frustration, or even pretension. Beginners don’t know how to be anything other than open. Sure there is fear, fear of the unknown, of being judged, but beginner fear has a different energy than actor nerves. Beginner fear has innocence about it, a wide openness, an anticipatory excitement mixed into the fear of the unknown. Showing up in a class, they’ve taken the first brave step of crossing through an enticing doorway not knowing what’s on the other side.

They make this decision because something stirred within them: a nagging curiosity, old desire, love for the movies, a remembered feeling they had on stage in grade school, belief in their ability to tell stories, belief in their humor, their good looks, the dream of being a star, whatever it is, I find them refreshing. Their genuine openness and wonder is so appealing.

So how can we, those of us that have been around a while, long enough to have accumulated a good dose of doubt and disappointment, come at our career in a fresh way this year? How can we empty our cups and begin again? We were all beginners once upon a time. Now I am not advocating you toss out all you’ve learned, heaven’s no, you’ve come a long way. You’ve got skills. You’ve cried, screamed, kissed, loved, hated your way through acting classes and you’ve booked some work, maybe a lot work, maybe you’ve had a 20 year career. Keep that in your cup. But remember how you felt when you first started out? What was it that brought you to that first class or that first play audition? What can you approach with new eyes, new ears, new joy, for this path you’ve chosen?