When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to land in the extraordinary care of acting coach, Warner Loughlin. She was different than the others. She didn’t yell at you or cut you down when you put up a scene that was less than wonderful. Instead she called you “baby” and asked if your work came from a “safe place”. She cared. She loved us. Deeply. She taught us the value of loving each other and creating our own opportunities. She gave us a method that was not only healthy for our hearts, but one that would never fail us on set. She unlocked my imagination years ago allowing me to dream without boundaries using her beautiful phrase of encouragement “…and so it is.”
Warner studied under Stanislavski back in the day as a method actress. One of entertainments most beloved acting coaches, Stanislavski taught Brando and Marilyn and Pacino and everyone that was anyone. He coached you to use memories that would trigger emotion and stay in that place until filming was over. Problem with that is that sometimes your mind doesn’t WANT to be triggered to reopen those emotional wounds. Sometimes you don’t have memories dark enough to match the character you are portraying. Enter Warner’s method… based on… wait for it… imagination. What a concept! In her studies, she found that the human mind can not tell the difference between a memory that is relived or one that is created through imagination. If you go back and create the life of a character through “emotion with detail” and you relive THEIR memories with all of your senses… you can literally become ANYONE you want as an actor. And because the emotion is attached to something that makes sense for that character, it is a deep well of emotion that will keep you producing the tears you need take after take after take. I know, because I’ve used her technique for 20 years and it has NEVER failed me on set. As long as I did the work, I never had to struggle to find my feelings. I simply tap into my core memories then walk back a few moments before the scene starts and boom… I’m ready.
Working on the set of Send Me Wings as a co-writer, co-producer and lead actress, I was wearing MANY hats during our shoot. And the content was heavy. My character witnessed her grandfather being shot down and murdered in her hometown church when she was little and hasn’t been back since. Forced to deal with the land it sits upon, she goes home to sell this church only to find there is a sick little boy seeking refuge in the abandoned church. Talk about a recipe that requires EMOTIONAL WARFARE… but my work was done so my triggers were sensitive and I was ready. Even sitting in the midst of the crew whirling around me, I sat and quietly stayed where I needed to be emotionally and there was no need for them to rush. I loved having fellow WL alum, Jen Dede Kelly on set with me to help me focus before a big scene. It’s so special to have someone on set that speaks your language for those heavier scenes. The GIFT of producing your own projects is that you get to cast your friends that you KNOW are going to BRING IT and man, Jen SLAYED this role. I can’t wait for everyone to see us go head to head in this film. She’s brilliant.
Warner, thank you for the tools that allow me to become anyone I want as an artist and to do it in a way that is safe for my heart. Thank you for giving me something that doesn’t require me to rip open old emotional wounds over and over and over to feed a performance. Thank you for putting me in a sandbox with some of the most talented artists in the business and letting me learn from them and beside them. Thank you for teaching us that we rise as a group. That we don’t compete with each other but instead we understand there is room for us ALL at the top. All of my healthy boundaries come from you, my love. I am forever and always your girl. Love you like crazy, WL.