Oscar reaction, and why acting is like skiing

First of all, did you know who was shrieking with delight over the Oscar results? Kate Winslet? Danny Boyle? Sean Penn?

How about Rachel Hopkins. Rachel, a brand new student at Strasberg who commutes to LA from San Diego, is the winner of the Strasberg Oscar predictions competition. Don’t let her low-key SoCal vibe fool you, this is one driven young lady. She won with an amazing 83 out of 100, and she is still regretting missing out on that “Best Animated Short” category. For inquiring minds, your overly competitive blog-host is still smarting from an awfully mediocre 62. Congrats to Rachel.

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I just got back from a few days on vacation. There I was skiing down a beautiful mountain in Colorado, dark green pine trees lining either side of the steep, powdered-covered run when I thought about acting.

It was something the ski instructor said when he noticed me leaning back to keep my balance on the faster parts of the mountain. His name is Don Jones, a good-natured guy who retired from North Carolina to teach skiing in Colorado. What Don said was, “David, sometimes you just have to have Faith.”

Faith. Its a big word and charged with all kinds of meanings. Don meant Faith as in Courage. You lean downhill in order to better guide and control your skis and keep your balance. Problem is, when you point downhill you go faster which makes you FEEL out of control. That’s where Courage comes in. You need to keep leaning downhill even though it feels like you are going to fall. Channel your speed into your turn. Trust the skis, they will respond.

A good acting class is not about just doing a scene or performing. It is also not just about feeling good. It is about creating a process that works for you regardless of the material. A process you can rely on to get you through any terrain. It’s not always easy.

Acting should be fun and exhilarating, but it can also be hard work in the same way skiing is. It may feel awkward – scary even, just like leaning downhill. Many actors avoid the rush of a real moment just like some skiers fight gravity in order to feel safer.

Our work encourages you to build new habits. It is best used by actors willing to be brave. We teach you to use your most creative impulses. Don’t judge them, express them. Channel them into your scene. Trust your skis.

All it takes is a little Faith (in yourself).

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Blog note: Keep an eye out for the updated reading list. I will be adding some material to it in the next few days, so check back.

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 5:29 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Are you tension? panic?

  2. I just want to ask you a question: I am 28 years old, next year I want to come to NY, to Lee Strasberg Institute, do you think I’m to old to do this now?

    • The easy answer is, No. You are not too old.

      The truth underneath that is complicated. We have trained people who came to us in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, so age is not the barrier.

      You have more experience to bring to your work than an 18 year old, but you also have a more adult level of fear and conditioned habit that needs to be retrained. It takes greater courage because most of us get risk-averse as we get older. Actors embrace the risk. That isn’t easy after you stop thinking of yourself as a kid.

      From a craft standpoint, though, age is not a barrier. My father’s first film role was Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II. He received an Oscar nomination for the role.

      He was 73 years old when he shot that film.

      Keep me up to date if you apply. Good luck, and I hope to see you in NY.

  3. After two years of training(acting school) here in Romania,I will leave my home, next year, and I’ll say Hello NY. Now I have a confirmation and not any confirmation. Thank you Mr.Strasberg…you’re doing a great job on this blog.

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