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How Easily Can You Pivot?

Photo Source: Margaux Quayle Cannon

By Marci Liroff

We are going through unprecedented times. There is no playbook. The global pandemic has killed scores of people, and even more are sick. Our infrastructure is bursting at the seams, and the economy is being tested daily. The unemployment rate is at a historic high in the U.S. and around the world. What has become apparent to me at this moment in history is who can pivot easily and who cannot.

Are you going with the flow and turning a desperate situation into a workable one, or are you digging your heels in because you not only hate change, but won’t change? How you react right now is the litmus test of whether or not you’ll make it through.

I remember sitting with actor Marilu Henner years ago, and she said something so profound, it’s stuck with me to this day. We were having a “big life” discussion when she said,

“Life is about how easily you can slide into Plan B.”

Marilu Henner

This struck me as wise, because, as we know, life doesn’t always go the way you planned. Her whole life concept got me thinking that not only should I have a Plan B, but a Plan C is also crucial.

Then I started thinking about actors. In my opinion, no one is more prepared and equipped to pivot than actors. By virtue of their chosen path, they always have job insecurity. Many of the rest of us work nine-to-five, five days a week. For actors, it’s normal to not know what’s coming next, where you’re going to live, or how you’re going to pay your bills. Their training teaches them to be on their toes in every situation—to respond in real time to whatever is thrown at them. (Hello, improv!) Yet this profession is still sought after. Why? For many, the answer is, “Because I have to.” I would venture to say that actors are hard-wired to pivot.

As an independent casting director, acting coach, and intimacy coordinator, I am also used to my work ebbing and flowing. Sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction because I absolutely hate change. I like to know what’s happening next; I’m not the most spontaneous person you’ll ever meet. I sure don’t like it, but that’s the path I’ve chosen. I’ve become an expert at the pivot because I’ve learned fighting it does not help. 

I’m certainly not suggesting you concentrate on perfecting a professional pivot while you or your loved ones are sick; this article is directed at those who are well and able to do some work on themselves during this complicated time.

Make sure to check out my online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.

Find Inspiration During Covid-19

By Marci Liroff

Photo Source: Margaux Quayle Cannon

Boy, time has certainly flown by. It’s been SO long since I’ve written. I hope you’re all staying safe, wearing a mask when you go out, and are social distancing.

In light of the pandemic, I am offering special pricing for my private coaching (remotely of course!) Check out the info here.

A few months ago, we couldn’t have imagined we’d be sequestered in our homes for a prolonged period of time due to a global pandemic. This quiet time has forced us to slow down and be reflective.

Working from home has its own complications. For creatives, it is exponentially harder to find inspiration for your creativity. It’s hard to concentrate when there are so many distractions. Kids need to be homeschooled, the washer and dryer are constantly running—even our pets are more demanding, because they’re not used to us being home 24/7. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch before you have to finally get down to business and do your work, if only for lack of options!

As I’m writing this article, I’ve gotten up no less than four times since I started my first sentence. I see spiderwebs gathered in the corner of the skylight in the kitchen and simply have to climb up on the ladder to clean them away—something I’ve never done in the 19 years I’ve lived here. Apparently, I’ll do anything to not have to sit down and do my work.

With numerous distractions and a lack of stimulation from the outside world, it’s hard to maintain a sense of creativity. So I began searching. I looked to my favorite artists for a clue. Tom Hanks said, “You’re a dope if you don’t steal from everyone you’ve ever worked with.”

Even Pablo Picasso had a take on this, saying, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

This is not to say that you can be authentically creative by stealing others’ work. No one wants to see a carbon copy of someone else; however, there are elements within their work that you can use to spark your imagination and form your inspiration.

I did a deep dive on cable the other night and watched a movie I hadn’t seen since it was released in 1993. “Benny & Joon” is a dark romantic comedy. An unlikely pair, Mary Stuart Masterson plays a young woman with schizophrenia and Johnny Depp plays a magical sprite of a character. Depp “borrows” liberally from Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd to create a captivating character that’s part boy, part man, part unearthly being. You can see that he’s not just boldly stealing their moves, but using their singular flair to inspire his performance.

Think about how many actors have been inspired by James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Are they just copying their moves or are they using their essence to create a fully fleshed-out character? You’ll see some fail miserably at their attempt, but others manage to reach new heights as a performer.

I suggest you use this time to find an actor or two who has informed your work today. Go back and watch their early films, and you can see that they most likely “stole” from other actors themselves. When acting, you have a great opportunity to learn from those around you. So, keep your eyes and heart open.

Make sure to check out my online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Warning: I grant permission to share my blog as written with no additions or deletions. Posting my blog is in no way an endorsement of another site unless you obtain my written consent.)