Today I finally get to share a conversation I had with Sara Safari (@itssarasafari on instagram), a young actress wise beyond her years from the opposite side of the country. True story: Sara and I have never actually met in person. We met during an online workshop led by my friend Analisa Leaming, creator of A Balancing Act podcast (@abalancingact.biz on instagram). Because Sara and I pretty much function on the same mental wavelength and because she believed in my vision for You Are Here, we kept in touch. This conversation was had 6 months ago but re-listening to it and turning it into this post has been a great little reminder of some of life’s most important lessons: “the importance of balance, the importance of knowing who you are, and the importance of being self assured” (in a good way).
Sara: Something I’ve been struggling with is questioning my place in this industry…I think when you do what you love it puts you in such a vulnerable place. I’ve had so many acting teachers say ‘you can be a 14 years old’ and I’ve had others who say ‘you can be 25.’ I’m hearing so many conflicting comments, what do I wanna believe about myself?
Becky: Well that just goes back to the whole finding the balance thing [that we were talking about before]. Because yes, we do need to bounce ideas and get outside information but at the end of the day we have to find the balance of ‘okay this is what they believe but what do I believe and what do I want?’ Because at the end of the day you’re the one who has to be on board with it because it’s about you! And so knowing when to take in comments and knowing when to say ‘okay, that’s that person’s opinion of me but I think I disagree so I’m going to respectfully let it go.’
Sara: Right, and I think a big part of it for me is going into the lesson or the audition with my own opinion and then hearing theirs…going in knowing what I like and knowing who I am, my abilities, what I can do and then being open to hearing someone else’s opinion, I think that’s balance for me. But if I go in scared or with a sense of scarcity: ‘I don’t know what to do and you’re the only one that can help me.’ First of all, that’s not true. There are a lot of people who can help you, you aren’t helpless.
Becky: But having the confidence to be able to form your own opinions without seeking validation from an outside source is truly very important.
Sara: And you’re gonna work with so many people and that’s gonna be really great. You get to see the different ways people work and how they break down a song, or how they direct a musical, or how they work a scene. But knowing who you are is gonna make it a lot smoother because if you can go into any project with a very grounded and stable sense of who you are no one can poke at that. Because people will and people have with me. I mean, I’ve had people say ‘you’re this, you’re not this. You shouldn’t do this, you should do this.’ And I don’t let it define who I am and I also don’t let it limit what I can do. Because that is just one person’s interpretation of a one hour lesson with me or two months of doing a show. So they can be valid in whatever way but I can also have the permission to say ‘thank you for your time and thank you for this comment but I’m just gonna respectfully step back.’ This is applicable to friendships, relationships, whatever. There are some people who your relationship is structured in a way where you can openly have a conversation about how you feel, you can always say how you feel when you feel it and there’s just this underlying respect for each other but you don’t always have that with everyone. Especially in a work place and I think that as a young actor I’ve learned that not everyone you work with is gonna be your best friend. You’re not gonna have that kind of friendship with everyone and that’s okay because at the end of the day it’s a job. It’s okay to not be everyone’s favorite person and going back to the idea of knowing who you are, that’s where it really helps…Being really strong in that so that not just anyone can just come in and shatter that.
Becky: But it definitely takes a certain level of self awareness. Many aspects of this business are completely out of our control and are reliant on other people. We cannot control whether we get the job or whether we get into the college program. All we can control is the way we prepare for the audition, how we ground ourselves, and how we talk to ourselves about the audition, but we cannot control the final decision. I think it’s very easy to get wrapped up in needing other people to tell you what to do, to tell you it’s good, to tell you you’re good, to make decisions for you, rather than being secure in the fact that you are an individual with the capability to do all of those things for yourself.
Sara: Right! And I would add onto that, kind of what we’ve been talking about, I think a huge part of [needing] that approval is not knowing who you are. When I go to my teachers for advice I know what I can do, I just need a bit of guidance because we don’t always get it the first time. That’s actually very rare. So it’s okay to ask for help as long as you know who you are and as long as the person you’re reaching out to is a safe person to open up to because not everyone is.
Becky: Absolutely. That’s why I think it’s really important to find your tribe. Both socially and professionally. And when I say professionally I don’t just mean in a cast setting. I also mean: who’s your voice teacher that you’re going to, the dance classes that you’re taking, the acting teachers or coaches that you go to, but then also do you have a chiropractor, or a massage therapist, or an ENT that you go to. Having those types of people in your tribe as well is really very important for the longevity for this ridiculously physically demanding career that we’ve all chosen.
Sara: And being patient in finding those people. I’m at a point where I haven’t found every single person that you just named and so I have to be mindful of ‘hey, you’re really doing great. You’re 18, you haven’t settled at a college. You’re still in school and those people will come.’
Becky: And it’ll also change as you grow and change. I’ve gone through so many different voice teachers throughout my life and I’ve had different groups of friends who were really instrumental in forming who I was at the time that I was friends with them. But as you grow and change and develop your relationships grow and change and develop and that is completely natural. So being open to that change too and not holding onto relationships that aren’t gonna serve you anymore. It can be difficult to let those things go but it’s helpful as well.
Sara: And I think that as you change, your skills change and your mindset changes, your outlook on life changes, all of these things [change] so if you wanna grow it’s impossible to be with the same people forever. And why would you put that pressure on yourself and another person?…I think also that everyone that we meet is gonna do something great for us whether that’s teaching us a good lesson or bringing joy into our lives.
At this point our conversation was starting to come to an end, not by choice (I could sit and talk shop with this girl for a very long time) but because I had somewhere to be. But before I got off the phone I asked Sara if she could answer one last question:
Becky: If you could give yourself from last week advice, what would it be?
Sara: Acknowledge that you’re where you need to be. And give yourself time because if you try to push things, if you try to make something of a situation that isn’t there, it’s not gonna feel right, it’s not gonna lead to flow. Trust that you’re where you need to be and you’re gonna get to where you wanna go. Your vision might not be exactly what happens but I promise you things are going to flow as they should.
Isn’t she delightful? What a beautiful end to an insightful conversation. Have a great Saturday, everyone!