Posted by Ana Paula Redding on Saturday, January 19, 2013
We were asked to share any reflections of the conservatory journey thus far. I went into a whirlwind of passion. For those curious enough this is what I wrote:
One year ago I never dreamt of the happiness I would savor; the fulfilling, enlightened and wholesome feeling I would wake up to every morning since joining the conservatory. Not to say that challenges, exciting awakenings, and unexpected turbulence don't happen. In fact they happen with more frequency but with a positively greater effect on my life! Being here in New York, with Tom spearheading this journey with me, is undoubtedly the happiest time of my life yet. Writing down that sentence feels like a miracle. I am blissfully surprised and filled with gratitude that I have come home to what my life must be: as Tom puts it, "a work of art, a work of heart."
I moved from Los Angeles where I was pursuing an acting career in desperation and disillusionment. Living there since a young teen always felt like running up a hill with a snowy blizzard against me. I never realized how unhappy and codependent with the comfort of my chagrin I was. To top it off, my dad, my hero, my pillar of strength, passed away suddenly in May 2010. My life as I knew it felt as if it meant nothing and I was lost.
By the kindness of something graceful and magnificent I saw one of Tom's ads for a workshop. I went to one and knew I was in the presence of something unspeakably brilliant. Tom's wisdom, passion, and heart pierced my wounded crux. I began to do his intensives in LA and about a year after, Tom invited me to consider joining the conservatory. Still stuck on the idea that I had to make it big in LA if I were ever fortunate enough to leave that city, I didn't think it would have been wise to join. In fact, my agents and mentors in LA were against it; it just didn't make sense. I had already completed a 4 year BFA program in one of the top 5 acting universities in the country. What if I would gain nothing from that again? What if I'll keep accumulating debt? What if my life continues to be a monologue of everything I haven't gotten and worked so hard for? Patiently and with infinite love, Tom talked me through all my doubts in lengthy phone conversations. My heart was already in New York and I said yes. Once I said yes the universe said, "Right on!" Matt, my beloved boyfriend, and I sublet our apartment, sold our cars, quit our jobs, packed our dog and we headed east.
And then, my life became what it's always meant to become. New York is the greatest city in the world, no doubt. The energy is electric, the history is rich, the people are deep, filled with humor and beautiful, art is all around us. Tom has put boundless care and love into creating the most safe and nurturing environment that will, mark my words, WILL create new generations of the most epic and conscious actors. We work with the most sensitized, genuine, gifted, and devoted core teachers. Paul Valley, not only a master at voice and speech, his insight and integrity to the craft is inspiring. Belinda Mello, our Alexander Technique teacher, is the most generous and perceptive AT teacher I've ever had. Denny Dillon is a genius at teaching improv which I now share her love and consider a spiritual activity. Janice Orlandi singlehandedly takes us to the moon and back with her richly imaginative movement work. Janice is a force to be reckoned with, she has set me free both in the mind and body. Jeremiah Davis, our Theatre History professor, is thought-provoking and heartily refreshing. He's young and hip and so down with all of us. It's like "Stand and Deliver" but in New York and with artists. Kathleen McNenny holds the distinction of being the only teacher I've had the honor of having that taught us mask work during the day and performed the best dramatic play I've ever seen on performed Broadway in the evening. The play was "Enemy of the People," by Henrik Ibsen. We get wonderful easter eggs as well! We had a top casting director, Risa Bramon Garcia come in from LA and conduct a two-day on camera class. She translated every earnest lesson from the stage to film. She was unlike any casting director experience I've ever had. Risa disproved any fervently negative beliefs of casting directors I had, especially LA ones. For the record, she's Canadian and lived many years in NYC! Julia Lenardon came to teach voice for 2 weeks. Another Canadian to the rescue! In less than two weeks my voice work with her elevated me to newer heights. It's wonderful to have incomparable voice teachers, one man, one woman, to fulfill every voice need.
And then, there's the man of the hour: Tom. I am the greatest human being and artist I can be thus far because of Tom and all he has created. He is the manifestation of all the guideposts. To me, Tom is everything I'd ever like to be as a human and artist. He gives his best to us always, he is a great listener, he asks for my best and raises my standards to the heavens. I am transforming into the person and artist I am meant to be. What Tom has taught me in one week I didn't learn in all 4 years of my BFA program at university. In fact, I recommend this conservatory to all walks of life, not only actors. Tom teaches us the four agreements: to be impeccable with our word, not to take anything personally, never make assumptions and always do our best, and puts it into practice, not only on the stage but in every aspect of our lives. There are so many golden lessons he generously shares with us that I look upon as divine guidance. This conservatory is unlike anything else, it's the real deal.
Lastly, Tom has handpicked every single comrade of mine in this conservatory. My peers are my kindred spirits and my soul siblings. We are here to hold each other up and we are each other's greatest teachers. I know in my heart that our journeys will go far together and that we will continue our relationships on stage, on film, and as family. There is no ensemble as divinely close and supportive as the one Tom has created for us. We are not bit players we are the epic leading actors of our generations. We are the artists who will change the world.
This conservatory is hard work; but the best kind of hard work! The kind that gets you on the fast track and gives you the keys to the kingdom of self-love and success. Saying yes to it meant saying yes to love, to life and to my highest self. I hone my discipline, face my fears with love and patience, learn the art of relaxation, find peace, share myself generously with the world without apologies, become the greatest artist I can be and learn to trust life all in this conservatory. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. I so look forward to seeing where I'll be by the end of my two year journey. In my heart I know I shall be the greatest human and artist I can be yet.
With unconfined glee and love,