Art, Respect & Dreams

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Photo by: Roderiques Photography

by: Natalie Lipka

As I mentioned on the show last week, my brother and sister-in-law gave me Amy Poehler’s Yes Please for Christmas. I started reading it on my six-hour flight back to Los Angeles. Now, it’s important to understand that I can’t read much on planes. I usually fall asleep before the plane even takes off. But this book changed all that. I read over half of the book and I loved it! When I finish it, I promise to give a full report. But the thing that I noticed most as I was enjoying each and every page full of Amy’s words, is something I had forgotten about myself. I love to read books! As a result of this busy life, living and working in LA, time doesn’t seem to allow for it. But as an actor, I do understand that reading is part of my job.

When I was a kid, I didn’t go anywhere without a book. I can remember when my parents drove that short 10-minute drive to church I wouldn’t get into the car without a book to read on the way. A few months ago, an actor friend of mine “challenged” me on Facebook to name 10 books/plays that influenced or stayed with me. My list of 11 would now become 12 as I will definitely be adding Yes Please to the list.

There are some important books that have changed my life and given me inspiration, encouragement and direction when I needed it. I’ll share three of these now in the hopes that they may be able to help you on your personal artistic journey.

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
In 2008, I was in a play directed and produced by one of my best friends. She gave this book as a gift to the cast and I have probably read it cover to cover at least three times since then. It is one of those books that I continue to visit. The gift that keeps on giving. If you’ve ever had any doubts about the career you’ve chosen, you should go pick up this book now. Steven Pressfield talks all about resistance and how it is the enemy that keeps us from doing our work and achieving our goals. Pick it up. Seriously, do it now. I’ll wait… It’s changed my life, and given me more strength to pursue my goal each time I’ve read it and to conquer that three-headed monster called Resistance.

Creative work is …a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Respect for Acting – Uta Hagen
?I’m pretty sure this was the first book I ever read about acting. It was required reading for my first acting class in college. I enjoyed it so much. I can remember doing the acting exercises from the book in class and how it prepared me to perform on stage. I think it is an amazing book for any person interested in pursuing a career in acting. It has given me a solid foundation to keep moving towards success in this career.

Respect for Acting is a book for people who respect (or wish they could) the theater on both sides of the footlights, for actors and audiences who favor truth in a creative process.

Dreams into Action – Milton Katselas
The very talented actor and teacher, Richard Lawson introduced this book to me while I was taking a class at his studio. From Richard and this book, I learned for the first time how to take control of my career. On a side note, you should know that I took this class with my now co-host Wayne Frazier and it had a huge impact on both of our careers. This book is pure motivation and includes exercises at the end of each chapter that helps us as readers to focus on putting our dreams into action.

You need to have confidence in what you think and feel and, with your power, get done what you want done. I’m not suggesting a revolution, but an evolution.

Perhaps you have a favorite to add to the list? What books have influenced you?