Welcome to my home base. I’m a writer and actor in New York City with a love for fairy tales, travel, and cheese.

The Art of Asking

My dear friend Matt gave me Amanda Palmer's book The Art of Asking a short while ago. We both share a love for Amanda Palmer; her music, her artistry, who she is as a human. Her book was based on her TED talk which I had watched and been affected by as I am with most TED talks. If you aren't watching TED talks, please start now.Here. Start with Amanda.thebrideAmanda is a definition of an artist to me. In her talk and book, she starts her story by telling how she worked as a living statue in Boston, handing out flowers to those who passed by. She talks about the moments she would have with people who accepted the flower. Where she would truly see a person in that moment and they would see her. She would ask them, silently, to take the flower. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't. But she would always ask them to.From these humble beginnings, she delves into her band's success and their historic Kickstarter that raised funds for their album and broke the Internet. The guilt that followed when the media scrutinized her for asking people to pay for her music. The struggle she had asking her famous husband, Neil Gaiman, for help when she needed it. The last line of her TED talk is "I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question which is 'How are we going to make people pay for music?' What if we started asking 'How do we LET people pay for music?'"Amanda has made asking an indispensable part of her art (hence the title). She crashes on couches, borrows equipment, raises awareness, uses the Internet for good. She's like many of us who just want to create and share her creations and have it be loved, respected, and cherished.This book truly spoke to me and my artist heart. She quotes things I love, like The Velveteen Rabbit and Brene Brown. She dives into her struggles, her disappointments, her determination and the people in her life. Amanda Palmer very easily makes you feel like you and her are friends. She opens herself up so much to everyone, you feel close to her, you understand her and feel like she understands you.This weekend, we made another movie. A short my husband wrote that is a mafia twisty turny tale about a hitman who fucked up really badly and must face the consequences. We needed some extras for a scene in a restaurant.I didn't want to ask any one. I hate asking. It makes me feel uncomfortable, like I am putting people out by asking this favor even though it's not hard and wouldn't even take up much time. But it was early Sunday morning and everyone I know here goes out late Saturday night or has never been in a movie so they might not be into it and no one has seen me perform or knows what we do and I'm still really new around here and I was freaking myself out terribly if you couldn't tell already from this rambling.But I asked. I thought of Amanda Palmer's words and I asked. I had several people say yes with enthusiasm. My husband had many people say yes and get excited for it. I realized my freak out was unwarranted and slightly ridiculous. Asking is part of this business. Even when you offer a role to a person in a professional film, you still ask them if they would like to accept.Several of those who said yes didn't show up for various reasons. Those who did were asked to be on camera more than I had described. They obliged politely. Some people came up with characters for themselves. They asked questions. They performed absolutely perfectly for never having been in front of a camera. They followed direction and enjoyed it immensely. When I thanked them, they acted as though they wouldn't have missed it and it was no trouble at all. Here I was, in the scene, panicking we were keeping them too long and they would hate me for putting them on camera with no prep and I felt so incredibly awkward. I had no reason to. It was all in my own head.I had asked them to take the flower and they took it.It is true what Amanda says. People do want to be involved, they want to help. They want to be a part of whatever you are doing because when you are an artist, the passion you have for your art radiates off of you. I forget that sometimes. I don't see that. When I talk about making movies, I probably light up and smile and it looks like the best thing in the world because to me it is. So why wouldn't they want to be a part of that?Without burying this blog too deep into why this book is amazing, the other chord that struck with me is the definition of an artist and what makes you Real. This is where Amanda uses The Velveteen Rabbit quotes. I always think about what makes me a Real actor. I unfortunately think of how other people see me and if they view me as a Real actor.  That's not the right way to do it. How other people see me is not how I should measure the definition of an actor.velveteenSo what makes me feel Real? This weekend did. When I'm in front of a camera. When I am watching footage while my husband is editing. When we are discussing our next project and writing and re-writing scripts. If I get a day to sit and write. If something I write helps people and inspires them to send me a message and a beautiful conversation blooms because of what I shared. A night where we are watching a movie we love and discussing it in great detail. Checking things off my list of goals or just making that list grow. The encouragement from my friends and family and the endless support they give me makes me feel Real. It's that love that happens to the Rabbit in the book. The love I have for acting and the love it gives me back. The love I have found with other actors, artists, musicians, creators of all kinds. The love from my tribe. That's what makes me Real.I am going to try to stop being afraid to ask. I will attempt not to hesitate the next time or feel guilty when I ask for help. Creating is about community. I have to remember that every time. Movies are creations people want to be a part of, like music. Fans want Amanda to crash on their couch and borrow their leather jackets because they love her and her work. I want her to crash at my house, too and stay up drinking wine with me and talking about life and art and music because what she makes inspires me. It propels me to follow in her footsteps and call myself an actor and mean it even if I don't have the credentials I always thought I needed like a television credit or a Broadway show. I plan to still have those someday but that is not what makes me an actor.I want to tell stories that resonate and make an audience laugh, cry, fall in love. I want to work with people, any people, who leave a set smiling because they were just part of something awesome. As simple as it sounds, all I want to do is tell stories. That's what makes me feel like an artist, an actor, a Real rabbit.I see you. See me. Take the flower. Check out The Art Of Asking by Amanda Palmer and follow her on all the social media outlets, including her own fantastic blog.

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