Today I was having an interesting conversation with a writer. He was telling me about a novel he had begun to write. He was having trouble understanding the reasons behind his characters actions. Their motivations. It made me think about, well acting of course, but also what motives us as people and what motivates me. Drive. Motivation. Dreams. Ambitions. Food? Definitely food. That is a BIG motivating factor for everyone. I think food is too much of a motivating factor for me! Definitely too much since I haven’t been exercising enough. Who eats $36 worth of nuts in a week? THIS GIRL. #weirdpoops. (you did not need to know that but alas there you go. You’re welcome?)
As an actor it’s my job to understand why the character I am living does what she does. That’s one of the fundamental things you are taught as an actor. What is my objective? In normal person language – ‘what do I want RIGHT NOW!?’. You go for the first thing that you want in the scene. You get home, you’ve had a long boring day at the office and some drunk douche bag on the train called you a ‘slag’ and the first thing you want when you get home is to have a nice cup of tea and a sit down with your feet up. The first thing you want is to have comfort. Objectives change throughout a scene though. For me this is where it gets too complicated and convoluted. Go for the first moment. Then move moment to moment.
Now back to my initial question, what are the driving forces in people’s lives? The basic stuff of course. Food, water, shelter, sex (apparently) according to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.
He stated that if one need is not fulfilled, you cannot ‘progress’ to the next level in the pyramid. So if you can’t poop, well then you’re stuck at the bottom of the pyramid and should probably seek medical advice.
Ok so what does this hierarchy of needs then say about single people? Or those who abstain from sex? (for whatever reason) Are they destined to be stuck at the bottom of the pyramid for as long as they are single? And as an actor, well, I’m thoroughly stuffed then, cause honestly ‘security of employment’ is never going to be a 100% surety, unless I hit the ‘big time’? (Insert lots of dollars here). Say I somehow get all that sorted and I end up in the yellow section, but I’m single, then what? Forever mellow in the yellow? I’d like to think someone like myself could get to ‘self-actualization’. But apparently only 1 in 100 people do (according to Maslow, but hey where’s the research into that? I shall keep hope!) Perhaps it is true though. It is difficult to focus on your self-esteem, confidence, etc, when you don’t feel you have friends, or family that care, or that special someone. Cant skip a damn level in this thing.
It makes me think about what motivates me to be an actor. I keep being reminded that this is the most difficult career choice in the world. Ah yes, it is. I can attest to that. I also quite enjoy it, despite all the drawbacks. And that matters. I have to enjoy it, otherwise I might as well get a job that’s stable if I dont enjoy it. I am an actor because I like telling stories. I like using my whole body, mind, soul and lived experience to bring a character to life through me. I like taking people on a journey. Drawing them away from their dull or most likely stressful life into something a bit more uplifting. They can forget about their mortgages for a while, the deadlines at work looming over their head and get lost in another world for a while. I hope that’s a good enough reason to do what I do.