Hyphen Hysteria: I’m an Actor-[INSERT HERE]
Somewhere in the last 10-20 years in the theatre industry, actors have become hyphen-happy, gluing on additional titles that trail behind their strongest suit. For example:
- actor-teaching artist
- singer-actor-makeup artist
…each combination uniquely weaving together strings of mastered talents and skills.
Guilty? I’m so glad if you are!
Those dashes help expand the magnitude of opportunities for actors, serving as the new creative twist on “triple threat.” There is now absolutely no limitation to what that dash can tack on, whether it be an expertise or another calling. So this year, this actor decided to tack on a new dash of her own; I decided to welcome “life coach” to the club!
There it is: Actor-life coach. What does that even look like, and how did it even come to be?
Well #1, actor-life coach sounded like a snooze fest to me. So I jazzed it up a bit; I call myself a gypsy artist (thanks to my theatrical travels) and collaborative coach, re-sparking and re-sizzling the creative mojo that pumps through your veins for both an artistic awakening and everyday soulful life. I’m a super fan of rocking the unconventional path, and I guide my clients to mixing their own feel-good-formulas that inspire them to boldly follow their dreams, listen to their intuition, and deck the halls with the lifestyle they desire. What I have discovered, especially for artists, is that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success or a clean-cut definition of “making it”; all of that comes from venturing within yourself, finding out what turns you on, and moving from that place of soul alignment. All those “shoulds” out there, especially the ones drenched in fear, can brainwash and disconnect you from your natural essence and rhythm. So I say ditch that scary crap and focus on finessing your own creative flavor instead, revealing how you tick, burst into expression, and what strengthens your voice and vision. My golden rule is “create, not wait,” which I think makes for a wildly interesting life!
I guess “life coach” may not be the most traditional role to have as an "actor dash," but it truly made the most sense to me. It started out as an "actor-teaching artist" combo, which then evolved into being a private acting and audition coach for teens and adult hobbyists… which then evolved into specializing as a college audition coach. Here I was, coaching aspiring professionals in my living room, breathing life into songs and monologues that would inevitably decide the fate of this kid’s next four years (no biggie), as I called upon the Gods of Creativity to shine down on us.
It was one exhilarating roller coaster as I got to witness these kiddos discover so much about who they were and what stories they wanted to tell and see them let go of caring what anyone else thought about it. And of course, the latter was the hardest hurdle to tackle. I saw the fear of not being good enough interrupt and mess with their creative processes, sometimes diminishing their dreams to a murmur. So inevitably, life came up much more than theatre came up in our sessions. After many of our heart-to-hearts, or “fear parties” as I liked to call them, I got used to hearing: “Thanks for the therapy, Tara.” I was beginning to see how vital it was to be an open, emotionally healthy human being in order to be an open, emotionally available storyteller on stage. Soul and craft go hand in hand.
Needless to say, I was falling in love with coaching, totally digging the one-on-one connection, the magical intimacy, and the pay-it-forward feel it gave me. I am endlessly grateful for all the theatrical coaches and mentors I’ve had come into my life. Clutching their wisdom, stories, and truths so close to my heart, I was honored to create that same kind of safe space for others to work and grow in. It's something I actually envision to look a lot like an actor’s dressing room: it's your space to strip down, transform, reflect, illuminate, and view vulnerability as your strength rather than a weakness. And with a loving guide by your side, you see some things in those lights and mirrors that you maybe couldn't see on your own. It's essentially the comfort zone outside your comfort zone. Everyone can use one of those!
I’ve also always been fascinated with learning other people's "whys": why on Earth they do the things they do and what sizzles their mojo. Being rational or logical doesn’t necessarily yank me out of bed in the morning. Those unexplainable tingles and shivers that can jolt your whole body awake and alive… THAT does. Inspiration. I found THAT worth investigating.
So this love for space, inspiration, intimacy, and creative processes led me straight to life coaching after I was awarded a scholarship to train online while on the road with a national tour. Besides deciding to follow my dreams to act when I was 17, this has probably been the second-best decision I’ve ever made. By doing a lot of this deep work on myself, a lot of the fears that used to paralyze me as actor have evaporated, the anxieties released and bad habits buried deep into the ground. I now feel like a magnet of magic and that anything is possible, seeing past many of my old limiting beliefs and enjoying this journey and dance with creativity so much more.
If we let it, we actors can commit to a career of rushing. Constantly missing the scenery that surrounds us, we can deprive ourselves of the daily creative wonders in order to try to get ahead fast. We pound the pavement so hard that we sometimes forget that magical “why,” and we are plagued with trying to control what's outside of our control. All of a sudden, each audition or even performance can feel like it has life-or-death stakes attached to it. Shackles are then unwillingly placed on our creative expression, something that is supposed to be nothing but freeing.
To battle this, we sometimes develop a thick skin to protect ourselves, but all that really does is numb us or make us removed or jaded. What will ground us and heal us is befriending our fears, choosing to switch up those inner mechanics by defecting the panic button of fight, flight, or freeze, and choosing self-love to rule instead. Self-love will inspire those leaps of faith that make magic happen and invite the mysteries of life to collaborate with you. That's the creative existence I strive for.
And that's what I coach and teach: living in love over fear. Sweet and simple sounding, but insanely complex at the same time. It's a lifelong practice, but I guarantee it will make you feel like the walking work of art that you are. The artist career can feel like an unpredictable roller coaster of unforeseen twists and turns, but we never have to suffer through the dips alone. We can reawaken our creative appetite by answering to curiosity, any of the nudges or inklings we feel within. Curiosity is the one match you need to light the creative fire inside; you only need faith to strike it.
I’m glad I took the leap of faith to add on this hyphen and open up myself to a whole new world of healing and love, nourishing the home within myself and how I embrace the gift of life. So if there is another door you want to open in your life, another artistic expression or interest that is calling you, I say answer and strut through that door. Get dash happy. Only you get to label who you are.
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