Malik Yoba said it best when he said to me Acting
is not acting, acting is being. So what exactly did he mean by that? Ill
answer that question, but first, Im going to take a bit of a risk and open up
a window of my childhood for you, just a sliver. Lets take a peek, shall we?
Rewind to a warm June night. Both of my parents
lay bleeding from bullet wounds to the head. The only witness other than the
Rewind to the sleepover at my best friends home,
when her older brother snuck into the room while I was sleeping.
Take it back to a time when I first realized I was
different from all the Jewish kids I played with in my neighborhood, because
for some reason, I was the only one that Melane kept calling ni**er.
Journey back with me as I stand on the curb, and
watch my friend Albert run into the street in front of speeding car
lets go to a place, where if asked about any one of those incidents, and more,
I would tell you about them while feeling the emotional equivalence of someone
reciting a grocery list to a place where I sat at funerals and wondered what
was on television. A place where ending long-term relationships and friendships
felt as traumatic to me as throwing out an old tube of lip gloss.
Emotionally bankrupt, my sister would call it.
Noree, she said, “you are sociopathically numb.
For years, I lived with the belief that perhaps,
after a certain threshold, human tragedy just didnt affect me, when it
happened to me. I felt immune, fortunate, strong, impenetrable like Superman
packaged into a petite female frame. And while my sister and I would sit on the
phone for hours debating who was more screwed up me, nominating her for
being so dramatic and sensitive; and for trying to convince me that feeling
pain actually makes you a whole person, and makes the life you live that much richer.
She threw my name on the ballot for, well, as she
put it so many times, having the emotions of a doorframe – which of course
was an exaggeration, because as strange as it may seem, I did empathize profoundly
with other people and feel for them, it just didnt register much at all if the
same events happened to me.
I felt as if giving into the emotions of grief,
sadness, loneliness, fear, etc, was an ultimate weakness. And it never was a
problem for me until I became an actor.
Think of the greatest actors that exist and their
most incredible performances. Then, think of why theyre just so freaking incredible. Its because whatever they
are going through on screen resonates within you. They make you feel them. Film is actually a healing art when actors
bring dynamic performances to the screen that draw you in and make you feel
connected. And when that happens, its not because an actor is in front of you acting.
Anyone can act.
Its because an actor is in front of you being, and feeling, and actually
living out the emotional life of their character. To be able to do that when
the world around you is make-believe is a special gift, granted only to those
who have embraced their own complete emotional existence on a level even more
elevated than the average living, breathing, and feeling human being. For this
reason, actors have to be able to dig deeper and feel more.
Think about it. 100 people walk into a movie
theatre in 100 different moods. They watch a scene where a woman grieves over
her murdered son. If that actor cant draw most of you out of your current
moods and into her grief, then she hasnt done her job. If I am that actor, I
have to take myself to an emotional abyss and feel this grief so deeply, so
that when you see me, I allow you to feel it too. If Im faking it, if I am
acting and not being, then you will remain unconvinced. In other words, when
you see me, I really am grieving, not
pretending to grieve.
One of the biggest obstacles for me as an actor
has been, number one, even acknowledging that my pain exists. Moving on from
that, is embracing that pain, and then allowing myself to feel it. When I first
started out, I would frequently receive the same feedback, I can tell that you
are acting, why dont you just let go and feel
it? And I would walk away, frustrated,
screaming in my mind, HOW?! When I just dont feel anything!
In a quest to find and uncover Norees Emotions, I began to work tirelessly
with a few acting coaches, some from very popular studios, many of whom had the
right concepts in mind, but still failed to point me in the right direction for
personal growth. Anyone can tell you what
to do, but there are few who can actually touch you deeply enough, take you by
the hand, and show you how.
At one point, I even began to think that just
maybe I didnt have it in me to continue on. Maybe I was a sociopath, and maybe I should
just give up trying to give life to these characters on paper. It wasnt
until I found a combination of the right people with both the talent and
emotional and spiritual (yes, spiritual) insight into someone like me, that I
began to transform and actually feel. And immediately I began to see a
difference in my work.
Not only that, but my personal relationships began
to transform as well. I also cried. Daily. Until every last bit of denied pain
from my past was wrapped in snotty tissues on my bathroom floor.
And now, Instead of approaching scripts thinking
Ok, shes hurt – this is how a hurt person would say this. I ask myself the questions
Ive been trained to ask, and I tap into those insights that take me back to an
emotional place of actually feeling hurt.
And then, I
leave my heart on the floor for you.
Love, Hip-Hop and Productive Pain,
out anytime at myspace.com/noreevictoria
Norees parents survived their tragic incident and are both alive and well with
minor physical disabilities.