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I’m An Actress: Feeling Your Pain, and Mine

noree

 

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? I’ll

answer that question, but first, I’m going to take a bit of a risk and open up

a window of my childhood for you, just a sliver. Let’s 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

gunmen? Me.

 

Rewind to the sleepover at my best friend’s 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…

 

Now,

let’s 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 they’re just so freaking incredible. It’s 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, it’s not because an actor is in front of you acting.

 

Anyone can act.

It’s 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 can’t draw most of you out of your current

moods and into her grief, then she hasn’t 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 I’m 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 don’t you just let go and feel

it?”  And I would walk away, frustrated,

screaming in my mind, “HOW?! When I just don’t feel anything!”  

 

In a quest to find and uncover Noree’s 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t

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, she’s hurt – this is how a hurt person would say this.” I ask myself the questions

I’ve 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,

Noree Victoria

 

Check Noree

out anytime at myspace.com/noreevictoria

 

Footnote:

Noree’s parents survived their tragic incident and are both alive and well with

minor physical disabilities.

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