I never met Doris Roberts but I always enjoyed her work. She died yesterday at the age of 90.
Need a role model for your career? Look no further.
Roberts was nominated for 11 Emmys and won five times. And she never stopped working on her acting.
From the LA Times obituary:
“Everyone Loves Raymond show creator Phil Rosenthal said that although Roberts had been ‘waning in the last few months,’ she still had her ‘fierce’ spirit until the end. ‘She was taking acting classes right up to the end…and really cared about being an actress and being professional. She was very dedicated to the craft. She was the real thing. She wanted to stay sharp.'”
This Working Actor was 90. Had a star on the Walk of Fame. She was dying. And she was still going to class.
“This is not a polite profession, a pastime, a little something to do until the kids get home or the husband is ready to show you some attention: This is the study of–the excavation of– the human condition, and I’m getting tired of the passersby who come into the scene and foul up the air with their inane posturings. There are, I assure you, easier ways to get famous than being a truthful actor, and so you become a performer, a clown, a mime of the mundane. I don’t have classes for people who want to make a splash; avenge a wrong; come to some understanding of their teenage acne; improve their posture or their voice. I am here to understand the whole line of humanity, which can only be done in the study of history, of literature, of art, and we place ourselves, fearlessly and with little initial hope of worth, in that timeline. We become what Tennessee called a witness to those before us. If we are blessed with talent and courage, we may become good witnesses.”
This formula is from the book, The Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallwey. As with many of the great “acting books,” this book wasn’t intended to be used by actors. I highly recommend giving it a thorough read.
Loosely, it means this: your performance as an actor equals your Potential to perform on that particular day at that particular time minus Interference.
Interference can be definied as the Fear/Self-Doubt/Dangerous Assumptions that Impede your Potential to Perform.
So, there are two ways to increase your athletic performance as an actor.
Increase your Potential through hard work and a repeatable, reliable process.
Decrease the Interference. This requires self-knowledge and a workable strategy that will help you silence the Critic in your head that says that your not good enough and gets in the way of your athletic ability.
In my experience, there are very few geniuses who act. I’ve never met one, in fact. But the great actors (actors who we often mistakenly refer to as geniuses) spend their lifetimes cultivating their imaginations by immersing themselves in literature, in visual art and in music. They study people, are aware with the events of the day and are involved in their communities. They embrace the world.
This is stolen from Bass Musician Magazine, but it applies to you. As an actor, you are your instrument. You cannot compete at the highest levels if your skills aren’t sharp. Find a class. Join a company. Get a partner. Practice. Happy fricking Holidays.
The Working Actor for sale at Samuel French on Sunset Blvd. Next to a book by some Russian guy called Stan Something-or-other. No, it’s not normally shelved there. One of the actors in Studio A moved it there for the picture.