Selected passages from Artist:
“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about.”
This book is not your usual memoir
It is a teacher’s tale
The stories told hold the seeds to personal lessons
The lessons learned grew into a teaching
The teaching bore more seeds
And on it goes
I offer this book to you because you are seeking
And because you found it
Or maybe because it found you
I am a teacher first and foremost. A reluctant teacher, true. One who—as you will learn—found traditional education insufferable. One who instead offers tools that inspire others to discover for themselves.
I believe there is an artist in everyone, and connecting to that creative source will lead you to your heart’s desire.
I believe the evolution of humanity is the art of consciousness becoming aware of itself.
I believe we are far more than a person—we are a presence. And that presence of awareness is available to guide us in our life and art…
My Story Begins and Ends with Acting
I am an actor’s daughter. My father, Henry Jones, was a character actor whose Broadway career peaked in 1958 with a Tony Award for his performance in Sunrise at Campobello. In the play, Henry played Louis Howe, friend and advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I was eight years old when it opened. I remember sitting fourth-row center, staring up at the grown-ups play-acting like children. To my young eyes, it looked like they were cavorting in a giant doll- house. It still looks that way to me. A well-done play has a magic about it. I feel blessed to have grown up surrounded by the spirited people of that world. I loved their flamboyance, their humor, and their grown-up love of make-believe.
After my parents divorced, my father moved to Hollywood, where his life revolved around television and film work. Although “Henry Jones” wasn’t exactly a well-known name, he supported our family through acting jobs alone. When he worked, we splurged on theatre tickets and dinners out. When jobs were scarce, supper might consist of a tuna sandwich or chicken noodle soup.
Everything about Hollywood seemed larger than life. To my young eyes, it was like living in a movie. The houses were mansions, the women glamorous, the men charming—even the freeways were triple the size of anything I’d ever seen—big roads leading to big dreams.
It seemed to me that all the superstars I met had two things in common:
- Each and every one of them displayed a level of confidence I’d never seen before.
- They seemed to have made themselves up out of thin air, manifesting an image and personality that resided somewhere in their imaginations. They became the person they dreamed of becoming. They did in their lives what they did in their work: they created a life of their own imagining—beautiful and dramatic.
I learned this truth: acting is about creating a life where there once was none. It’s about manifesting!
I have been an acting teacher most of my adult life. I’ve taught actors who’ve starred in movies and television, people who’ve never set foot on a stage before, and every level in between. I’ve served as a creative consultant to some of the biggest movie stars in the world, and I’ve taught people with no innate talent for the job, helping them find confidence in their process and fulfillment in their careers.
In my thirty years of teaching, my intention has always been to offer techniques that will help actors connect to and flush out their best ideas. I engage them in ongoing conversations about the following:
- The benefits of a positive attitude
- Comporting themselves as a professional
- Imaginative administration
- Commitment to finishing the job
- The benefits of daily ritual
- The nature of inspiration
- And the inspiration of nature
I also talk to actors about the importance of intention in their work and that class begins and ends with intending to become the best person you can be.
I train actors to know that they know. I believe confidence is as simple as that: knowing that you know how to go about a thing.
Because actors sometimes get caught up in self-absorbed thinking, I offer practices to bend their interest toward concerns outside themselves. My intention is to give them tools that help ease them out of their carefully crafted personas in order to view the world from their heart as opposed to their head. I like to remind them: a star shines not to bask in the glory of its own heat but to illuminate others…
Actors wear their insides out, reflecting for us the depth and breadth of the human condition. It’s as if one life isn’t enough for them. They want to conjure multiple lives before our very eyes.
When we see a performance we love, it lifts our spirit. We literally begin vibrating at a higher frequency, which invites us to leave our seats and enter the story. The actor is so real he transports us to another existence, and we take a little vacation from our own.
And when we return, feeling refreshed from our time away, don’t we sometimes feel like, “Wow! If they can create that much life out of thin air—commanding thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at will—surely I can do a little better with my own?”
In this way, actors touch a kindred spirit in us all. Something in their work feels familiar, inspiring us to reach for more. Because actors create life in the moment, they have something to teach us all.
The more I explored the acting techniques I offer, the more I saw that they could apply to anyone interested in discovering and maintaining access to inspiration and the power of calling upon that connection at will…
The Actor’s Goal
The actor’s goal is always the same: “I want to get the job.” It often keeps them from doing their best work because their intention is off. Their intention (goal) is to get the job. My counsel is always the following: “Shift your intention. The goal is not to get the job. The goal is to do your best work by making it personal.” Actors need to shift their thinking from “I want the part” to “I am the part.”
I tell them, “Your best work is measured by how personal you make it and how much you commit to your choices. One hundred percent is always recognized as undeniable. Whether you get the part or not, the goal is always the same: give 100 percent of you! Then, if you get the job, great! If not, you’ll be remembered as a first-rate actor, and they’ll call you in again.”
My counsel is always to ask the right questions. Make choices that move you. Enter the work through the character’s goals. Be a person, not an actor.
That’s pretty good advice for anyone: Ask the right questions. Make choices that move you. Give 100 percent of your best self. Be an authentic person rather than an idea of yourself…
Make the Goal Personal
Because the actor’s goal is always to get the job, they deliver what they think is wanted. What’s odd is that most of the actors who audition for a part will play some version of the same thing. They take their cues from the words on the page and say them with as much emotion as they can muster. I call it “words squared.” There is no dimension to the acting because the actor hasn’t given himself to the part.
You can’t be an artist and worry about what others think!
You can’t be your own person and worry about what others think, either
Embrace the freedom that comes with trusting yourself
Discover and claim your own point of view about everything
Become your own person, and you’ll stop caring about what others think
Become your own person by trusting and following your own good intentions
My first direct encounter with my own internal guidance came when I was in the third grade. The day before my eighth birthday, I was walking to my new school feeling profoundly sorry for myself. I just don’t understand why they don’t see me. I came into this world with gifts to share. I came to offer my heart. I have messages. I came to help!
It never occurred to me that my parents couldn’t see that in me. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t awaken joy in them by my mere presence. I was pretty sure my purpose in life was to bring joy, and I felt sad that I was failing in my mission.
Well, Jocie, we’re here, and we might just have to be enough, came the answer, clear as a bell.
It’s not like I heard the individual words. It’s more like the whole concept arrived. In this case, it was pretty matter of fact—kind of like, We’re here. You’re blessed. Get over it.
It came from somewhere inside me—or outside—sometimes it feels like both. I’d always had an easy, ongoing communication with this extra-dimensional world. I was grateful for the support, truly, but I longed for some kind of three-dimensional companion to help me weather this physical-Universe illusion I’d woken up in once again.
It’s not like I picture angels flying about, or spirit guides, or entities of any kind—although my whole life, people who see that sort of thing have told me I travel with quite a crowd. And it isn’t like I hear actual voices. It’s more like I feel surrounded by an invisible tribe who simply walk with me, protect me, and advise me in a gentle sort of way. Their presence feels as natural to me as breathing, and I have “walked” with them for as long as I can remember.
Because they seemed such an integral part of me, it took a while for me to understand that I could actually “work” with them on different levels.
The first conscious conversation, if you can call it that, came about because I asked a direct question. Playing along the riverbank one day, skipping stones, feeling alone and alienated from pretty much everyone, I asked, “Who can I trust?”
The wind came up and blew the branches of a weeping willow my way. She reached out her long, thin tendril arms to touch my neck. “Us,” was the answer. It came in one whole hunk of a concept. I instantly understood that if I wanted to interact with my invisible crew in this third dimension, all I had to do was look to the trees. Well, all of nature really—as nature is the physical expression of spirit, but I didn’t know that at the time. I just got trees…
Expanding into Unimaginable Truth
Throughout this book, I will offer meditations, exercises, and journaling prompts that will help you enter the present moment and open up a conversation with your heart.
Here’s a fun way to feel connected to something greater than yourself. Stretch out on your bed, close your eyes, and consider this:
You are lying on a bed
In a room
In a city
On a planet
Which is spinning around at 1,000 miles per hour
While flying around the sun at 66,000 miles per hour
As our solar system circles the Milky Way at 450,000 miles per hour
And you are but one of more than seven billion human souls speeding through the cosmos
While seven other planets—also spinning, also revolving around the sun
Create exactly the right amount of gravity to keep the Earth in a stable orbit
And you snug in your bed.
There we are! All of us whirling through the galaxy at an unimaginable speed. In perfect balance. Once you wake up to that, you’ve made a great start in appreciating the vastness of the spirit within. You’ve found wonder in what just a moment ago seemed ordinary and mundane.
Just as a benevolent force keeps the planets spinning in perfect order, the very same force keeps us on track as well…