She doesn’t know it (yet, because I just figured it out for myself) but my mom is the inspiration behind the Magnetic Actor Method.
But not in the, “Hi, it’s me, your mom. I just called to say I have this great idea for a business you should start” kind of inspiration.
That’s not even close. Here’s the backstory.
My mom just got back from the east coast, where she was the honored guest at a luncheon organized and attended by many of her former 3rd grade students... from over 50 years ago.
This is important: She taught them over 50 YEARS ago when they were 8 YEARS OLD.
Almost all of the kids that went through her classroom (she taught at that school for 4 years) still say she is the best teacher they’ve ever had. And they credit her for changing their lives.
These “kids” are in their mid-late 50s now, and every single one had a story for why they’ve never forgotten her, why they love her, and how she touched and changed their lives.
Every single one. For example:
One man’s job requires a lot of public speaking and he said he thinks of my mom before every speech, because she taught him to stop stuttering. She doesn’t remember staying after school to work with him, or even how she did it (given she wasn’t licensed). But he remembers. She changed his life.
One woman called during the lunch (the bomb cyclone kept many from making it in person), and cried as she told my mom, “You made my life better.” Her childhood was unstable (to say the least) and my mom would bring that little girl dinner to make sure she had something to eat.
One man said that her classroom was his happy place and that Sukiyaki, which she made for the class during their Japanese unit, remains his favorite Japanese dish. Because it reminds him of her.
Another man called to thank my mom for giving him self worth. My mom caught him cheating, but instead of punishing him, she told the little boy that he was too smart to cheat, and she expected more. Nine years later, he was the first person in his family to go to college. And 50 years later, he has never forgotten the woman who first believed in him.
Another just Facebook messaged me this: Heather, your mother changed my life. She was the best Teacher that I ever had, including college. She is a class act and helped so many children gain self esteem.
Another man wrote her a letter that said this: There is a very distinct and unique scent that arises from a fresh spring shower, when the crocuses, daffodils and cherry trees are first in bloom. The smell reminds me of walking home from school in 3rd grade and how peaceful I felt. Every year when I smell that first early spring shower I get a warm comfortable feeling and a memory. It’s a wonderful memory and it’s a memory of you.
Holy hot tears running down my face! That’s quite an impact to have on an 8 year old, 50 years later, isn’t it?
So what does this have to do with the Magnetic Actor Method?
My mom is inspiring my business because I want to have that kind of impact, too.
Pretty lofty goal, right? I know! And to be honest, it’s kinda terrifying to put it out there.
So after downloading with my mom about her trip, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming and thinking about what exactly she did (and still does) that carried so much weight for those kids.
There’s a famous quote often attributed to Maya Angelou that says, “They may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”
That's definitely the effect she had on them, except in my mom’s case, in addition to how she made her students feel, her students also remember what she said and what she did.
An impact trifecta.
My mom’s superpower is that she really sees people. And more than that, she sees the good in people.
She makes people feel worthy and changes the way they feel about themselves. She changed those kids’ lives because she believed in them when no one else did. And most importantly, she gave them a reason to believe in themselves.
Alright, I need to be clear about something. I’m NOT declaring that the Magnetic Actor Method will change people’s lives. Or that what I’m doing with my business will stick with people for 50 years.
But…why can’t I have that as a goal? Why can't I try? Wouldn’t it be so freaking cool if even just one actor walked away feeling like the Magnetic Actor Method changed the way they feel about themselves? Why can’t I give actors the freedom to feel and really believe in themselves again?
I don't know about you, but I think it’s worth trying.
And I think it’s all relevant because believing in myself is how I want to feel about being an actor, too. We hear it all the time (most often from our friends and family, amiright?) “...It’s such a cutthroat industry. Few make it. You'll get rejected more than you book, you’re going to be mostly unemployed…”
I know. I get it. I live it.
But I’m an actor anyway. And so are you. Because we love it. And that’s enough. For us, it’s worth doing despite all of the logical reasons we “shouldn’t”.
And you know what? No one (ourselves included) can ever say we didn’t try, or that we didn’t give it our all.
Maybe we can’t change people’s lives like my mom changed the lives of those students. But as actors, we do have the opportunity to make people FEEL. To move people.
And that’s powerful.
To me, the freedom to feel is what it means to feel alive. And when I say alive, I mean alive like, my-heart-is-pounding- because- Adam Levine- just- winked-at-me, alive.
To be honest, I also feel pretty dang alive when I’m curled up on the couch with my whole family and the dog and we’re eating homemade cookie dough right from the mixing bowl, and popcorn, and watching The Voice (surprise! There’s Adam again).
When I crystallize why I love acting, that’s what it is… it makes me feel alive. Because when I'm acting I have the freedom to feel.
And I believe you can’t move an audience and make them feel something unless you, the actor, have the freedom to feel, too.
It’s why we love good TV. We’re obsessed with the shows that move us and make us feel all the feels. It doesn’t matter if it’s raw, uplifting, powerful, heartbreaking, maddening, terrifying...we love it all.
Emotions take us on a fantastic journey. And as actors, we get to do it every day.
How lucky are we?
Bottom line. Good acting moves us and makes us feel. And that’s why I’m in class every single week... to practice becoming a better actor.
That’s why I get pissed off when people call it “[my] acting “thing”.
That’s why I get pissed off when people question why I left my corporate career “at the top of my game” and remind me that I can always go back… “if your acting thing doesn’t work out.”
That’s why I get pissed off when showing emotion is associated with weakness or letting your guard down.
That’s why I get pissed off when people say things like, “Oh you’re an actor. You must reaaallly love the camera...” (are you kidding me??? Have you seen me ugly cry on film?)
So why shouldn’t The Magnetic Actor Method have the lofty goal of giving actors the freedom to feel, so they can move others?
We act because acting is our passion. We’re putting ourselves – our real selves – on the line every single day. We leap off the casting abyss without looking, because we can't get enough of that feeling.
And that’s freaking magnetic.