MEET ELIZABETH

AN ACTRESS WHO FINDS INSPIRATION IN BEING VULNERABLE

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ON CONSTANTLY MOVING AND FACING THE UNKNOWN AS THE NEW ONE:

"I’ve been consistently in transition mode for the last 15 years, moving from the American Midwest to Reunion Island, to New Orleans, to Martinique, and finally to Paris, all on my own. Transitioning feels like a part time job when you’re moving around so much: finding gigs, figuring out work permits, making new friends, finding housing, figuring out how to get around… It’s a lot! But I got good at it. I became very resourceful and I became comfortable with feeling and being “new” every place I moved to. Though having been in Paris for over six years now, I feel like I’m finally able to settle into myself more, enjoy and cultivate the “everyday”, instead of constantly itching for the next big thing. It feels like an important transition and a good one."

"I do need to be honest with myself about the environment that is best for me. It might not be the most stable one, but it should be one I actually want to live in, that makes me feel happy, excited and more like myself."

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ON CHOOSING TO LEAVE A STABLE OFFICE JOB FOR INNER PEACE:

"I've reached a point where I’m very used to being out of my comfort zone from all the moving around. As an artist, I actually look for excuses to get out of my comfort zone. It's outside of our comfort zones that all the interesting stuff happens. The situations in which your impulses kick in - fight or flight and all that - finding out what you're really made of (or not made of). In drama, no one writes plays or movies about people who are comfortable and just hanging out. So the more uncomfortable, unexpected, intense or interesting experiences you have in your own life, the more easily you can access them when you are acting.

But there's a fine line... I actually think that I stayed outside of my comfort zone too long at one point in my life and it made me pretty unhappy. Oddly enough, this was the period during which I had a stable office job! I really wanted to understand what it was like to have to take public transportation every day, to go to an office, to get into office dynamics. I felt like there was this whole part of the human experience (or at least a huge portion of many people's experiences) that I was missing as an artist. And I wanted to prove to myself (and to my family too probably) that I could adapt and thrive in a more traditional work environment. I did adapt to a certain extent, but I wasn’t thriving in that context.

"I wanted to prove to myself that i could adapt and thrive in a more traditional work environment. i did adapt to a certain extent, but i wasn't thriving in that context."

I simply wasn't in the right place. I was working in film production and so I was organizing projects and figuring out logistics for people who were doing what I actually wanted to be doing: meaning the people who were on the creative side. I thought it was somehow good for me to know the logisticS side of things too, probably more responsible, even though it never felt quite right... but I didn't listen to the little voice inside my head because the security this job offered was drowning it out. It made me feel numb actually, which I guess some people call feeling "comfortable." Eventually I realized that I wasn't thriving because I wasn't being honest with myself about my values, about the type of environment that is truly best for me. It might not be the most stable one, but it's the one I want to live in, that makes me happy, excited and more like myself."

"i didn't listen to the little voice inside my head because the security this job offered was drowning it out. it made me feel numb."

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ON BEING VULNERABLE IN HER ART:

"Anytime you're acting, you completely open yourself up to all sorts of criticism. But with my last solo show, which I wrote with my partner and which was loosely based on my own experience with debt and relationships (so it it was a really intimate project), I was like, "whoa... this is intense." I realized that I could be criticized not only about the acting, but about the writing, the form, the props, the costume... every single thing. I broke down at a rehearsal that was just two days before the first show. I was convinced that everything about it was horrible. I felt totally indulgent and guilty about putting myself in the spotlight, wondering who would even care about this story. The father-daughter relationship was too cheesy, the form was too experimental and the dialogue was crap. I was so hard on myself. And I lost a lot of sleep over it. I remember even thinking that I should have just stayed in that office job, just stayed in my little box! Ha! Part of me secretly hoped that no one would come to the show! And lo and behold there was an ok turn out for the first one. I was nervous, which was totally new for me onstage. I was aware of myself, which is the death of acting and there were technical difficulties. But even with all of THAT, people seemed to genuinely like the show, to be moved by the story... even if it wasn't perfect. That was all I needed. And now, with a few more performances and a couple of rewrites, we have a very original show that I'm proud of."  

" I broke down at a rehearsal that was just two days before the first show. I was convinced that everything about it was horrible. I felt totally indulgent and guilty about putting myself in the spotlight, wondering who would even care about this story."

ON DEPENDING ON SOMEONE ELSE FOR HER OWN HAPPINESS:

"I've always had this chip on my shoulder that I didn't understand until recently: wanting to do everything on my own, wanting to be completely independent, not getting too wrapped up (or wrapped up at all) in relationships. It seemed like way too much compromise and effort. But I finally did get into a relationship and felt like I was giving a lot of myself, maybe experiencing what I thought was Real Love for the first time, starting to envision our future together, even briefly moving to a new city for him.

And then BOOM, the relationship just ended with very little explanation. It was one of those "I just can't" things and it left me so confused, with so many unanswered questions. I felt like I had let myself get into the exact situation I had so painstakingly avoided. I felt incredibly disillusioned because everything I thought to be true suddenly was not. I felt like my happiness depended on the other person. So when he wasn’t there anymore, I became a complete mess. I suppose this helped me learn not to tangle my own happiness with someone else so much. 

"AND THEN BOOM, THE RELATIONSHIP JUST ENDED WITH VERY LITTLE EXPLANATION. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE 'I JUST CAN'T' THINGS AND IT LEFT ME SO CONFUSED, WITH SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS."

I went through a sort of grieving process after that relationship and knew I wouldn't be able to go about another relationship in the same way, that being too romantic or losing myself in love was just as problematic and unhealthy as building walls around myself. So there was a healthy balance to find, knowing that it's ok to love someone deeply, while also knowing that you'll be just fine if it doesn’t work out."

"THERE WAS A HEALTHY BALANCE TO FIND, KNOWING THAT IT'S OK TO LOVE SOMEONE DEEPLY, WHILE ALSO KNOWING THAT YOU'LL BE JUST FINE IF IT DOESN'T WORK OUT."

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“Easy come easy go”

"It gets me through the ups and downs of castings and freelancing... and reminds me to never get too comfortable."


LEARN MORE ABOUT ELIZABETH
AS AN ARTIST