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the greatest

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Muhammad Ali once said, 
“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”
Last night at our meeting for the Bel Air Drama Department, one of the guys in the group who teaches improv at the Groundlings gave the devotion. It was all about what if your life was like an improv scene with God. He gave all sorts of great analogies like accepting what’s been offered to you by the other person, don’t try to control the scene, don’t ask questions, live in the present, whoever has the first sentence out wins and you have to go with that, etc. But after hearing this Muhammad Ali quote today in yoga with Elise Gulan, the part that stood out most to me is about trust. In an improv scene, you have to trust whatever it is you are doing and commit to it 100%. Great improv scenes start out with high stakes about mundane situations. If you start a scene out crying hysterically while peeling potatoes at the kitchen sink, it’s funny. You may not know why you are crying while peeling potatoes, but if you just let go and let the scene happen, you will discover it. Start with high stakes, enthusiastic (either really excited, really sad, etc.) about whatever you are doing, and the justification will come.

In life, if we start out being enthusiastic about wherever we are, the justification will come. For me it’s being enthusiastic about being in LA pursuing a career in acting. Whether or not I am booking jobs, whether or not I am even getting auditions, I should be super enthusiastic about it. One day I’ll look back, and whether or not I am famous, whether or not I had any success in this industry at all, I will see that there is a reason I am here where I am now. Maybe I was supposed to meet the people I have met. Maybe I was supposed to make a difference in the lives of others. Maybe they were supposed to make a difference in mine. Who’s to say what the reasons are. Only God knows.

Similarly, in acting, when we walk into a room for an audition, we have to believe that the part is already ours. We have to believe we are the best person for this role. If we don’t believe it, the casting director certainly won’t. If we don’t completely and enthusiastically own this role, the director/writer/producer certainly isn’t going to hire us.

So there you have it. We can learn a lot about life from the rules of improv and Muhammad Ali. Commit. Raise the stakes. Believe you are the greatest. You just might end up becoming it.  

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