Being an actor is no joke. Physically, emotionally, mentally. It is NO JOKE!!! For those people that don’t think acting is a real job you are extremely mistaken. I recently read an article in The Hollywood Reporter entitled "Drama Actor Roundtable: Rami Malek, Cuba Gooding Jr., TV's Top Talent on Arrogant Career Mistakes and That Golden-Shower Scene" by Lacey Rose which interviewed 6 top dramatic actors on the reality of our business and the characters they inhabit. Wagner Moura who stars in NARCOS said, "Our thing is here (points to himself). So our bodies, they have memory of what you are doing-and the body doesn't know you're acting."
This sparked something in me. I've always known acting can take its toll, but it wasn't until I got a bit older where I could look back on my past and see that I can now differentiate myself from the characters I play. Throughout the beginning of my career as an actress, I would let these characters overwhelm my life. I started letting art imitate my life a little too much. Now that I've experienced more life and I've seen the physical, emotional, and mental effects staying in character has on oneself, I've been able to lead a healthier life and have healthier relationships.
I think it's beautiful and necessary to be able to fully embody a character as an actor, but it's critical to not lose sight of yourself. Moura is right-your body doesn't know you're acting. What you're feeding it-it reacts to those messages and the same goes for your mind. The thoughts that you feed your mind become your reality. This advice is for all humans alike. You must feed your mind with loving thoughts and what's hard as an actor is that sometimes you play some dark, twisted, mother f*c*ers! It's important to be able to shake that off at the end of the day so that you don't make yourself crazy.
I don't believe I was truly happy in my early twenties because I lived out these character's truths more than my own. I lived full out whether that meant pure bliss or full on depression and had a low sense of self. If your self-worth is low, forget it. You'll most likely cling to the characters you play. I definitely did that and the happiness was fleeting. A strong sense of self is crucial when one is an actor because I'll tell ya...you'll have a hell of a lot of an easier time getting out of those characters at the end of the day. So talk to friends, find a good therapist, journal daily, say no to projects you're not comfortable with...the health of YOU is most important. And lastly, enjoy the hell out of these characters! The more you can differentiate, the deeper you can dig. Acting can be extremely therapeutic, but it's not therapy. Be conscientious of what you feed your mind and body on a regular basis and stay sane with the characters you play, remembering that’s exactly what they are-characters.