Caring for Your Acting Instrument: What I Learned from Marilyn Monroe

Photo by: Roderiques Photography

Photo by: Roderiques Photography

by: Natalie Lipka

As an actor, I think it is important to learn from those who have paved the way. I have always found Marilyn Monroe extremely fascinating. I’ve always been curious about which things are rumors and what is true about her life. A few things for me seem certain; she was incredibly gorgeous, not to mention engaging and talented. I believe she died before she could tell the world her own story and instead her “story” has been told through many talented actresses.

A recent post by New York Daily News,” "Marilyn Monroe’s 1955 New Year’s Resolutions…" has brought her once again to the center stage. The article focuses on her acting goals and her phobias, which is really important to look at as an artist.

Her resolutions ranged from “Go to class – my own always – without fail,” to “Try to enjoy myself when I can – I’ll be miserable enough as it is.” It goes to show that in 1955, just seven years before her death, she was a troubled actress, looking to become more focused and professional. But the resolution that stood out the most to me was one that I mentioned in my Social Media Moment last week on the show. Marilyn’s resolution was to “Take care of my instrument – personally & bodily (exercise).” I think back to the days when I attempted to play the trumpet. I always kept it in its case when I was not playing it and made sure to keep it in tip-top shape. It got me thinking about how important it is to take care of one’s own instrument and as an actor, our bodies and minds are our instruments. I need to remember this. Here are a few ways I try to keep myself physically and mentally in tune.

Hiking – I am blessed to live in sunny southern California where hiking is an option year round. Not only is this a way to get exercise for me, but it’s also a way for me to hang out with friends. A couple of girlfriends and I try to hike at least once a week. It gets our heart rate up and also gives us time to catch up. Currently, my favorite place to hike is Fryman Canyon in Studio City. Two other great options are Runyon Canyon, as well as up behind (yes, I said behind) the Hollywood Sign. The views from all of these hikes are enough to rejuvenate anyone.

Hot Yoga – I still can’t even believe this is on my list, because for the longest time I was anti-yoga. I didn’t want to go to a class and hold poses that were, what I thought, impossible to hold. Or feel like I was less flexible than I already knew I was. I never felt like I was truly getting a workout. But then I was introduced to hot yoga and everything changed. I feel like I finally “get” yoga. It’s amazing. Not only am I getting a full body workout, but I’m mediating at the same time. My body is warmed up and I can move and actually hold the poses. On top of that, it is an inspirational experience. I must confess, I cried at the end of my first class. If you haven’t tried it yet, just do it once. It seriously changed my life and the way I approach my days.

Breathe – This is something my husband has been telling me for years. In fact our wedding song was Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe.” In case you are interested, you can listen to that song here in this awesome live version: "Pearl Jam’s ‘Just Breathe’" Breathing is so important in any workout and in everyday life. It’s one of the easiest things to do. I mean we are already doing it without even thinking about it. But it’s the moments when I get wrapped up in making decisions, that I need to remind myself to breathe. Sometimes just taking in a simple breath and letting it all out can free my mind and help me look at things in a new way.

What ways are you going to take care of your instrument in 2015?