Lost Angeles: Honesty IS the Best Policy!


    My acting class was incredible last Thursday. Writer Gary Lennon came to see us and talk to us about the biz. He also single-handedly raised our achievement level because of what he told us about himself.

    Immediately, Gary explained his background—rough neighborhood in New York city, both parents dead by the time he was 11, both older brothers on drugs and involved in crime. He was kicked out at 16 so he slept on couches (until he was eventually taken in), he drank heavily, and partied hard at Studio 54 and other places. Then he started taking acting classes and he said they literally saved his life. He had a place to go and he had an outlet for his rage. His coaches urged him to play parts like Stanley Kowalksi but he said he felt frustrated because nothing he read captured his life experience—a young, gay man who grew up on the streets of New York. After one crazy night at Studio 54 someone told him that he should start writing about his life. He did and he was recognized immediately for the honesty of his writing . . . not his technical ability because even he laughs and says that he didn't have any technical skills at the time . . . but his honesty.

    So let's rewind for a second . . .

    . . . a complete stranger came into a room full of complete strangers and shared a bunch of intensely personal stuff. It was shocking, beautiful, moving, captivating, and strangely . . . familiar. Not familiar because I had a rough childhood (far from it) but familiar because that's what actors do—we come into a room and share our most intimate thoughts and feelings with total strangers.

    Honesty in life intimidates us. We're told that our deep, dark places are bad and we should bury them. We think others judge us harshly because we judge ourselves harshly. But life and art are completely opposite in this respect. In art, the deeper and darker you go the better. It's fascinating!

    For example, think of your proudest acting moment. Maybe you screamed, maybe you cried, maybe you went a little crazy. What did your friends say? What did the reviewers say? Did they call you insane? No. They called you talented! And that, my friends, is THE beauty of being an actor (or a writer). In what other occupation can you actually be your messy self and be celebrated for it?

    When Gary told us about his background we didn't shrink from him, we fell in love with him. His honesty inspired us to be honest in our work. And when he saw our scenes he didn't say, “This is a looney bin! Get me the hell out of here!” He said, “Great work.”

    So I know we've all heard it a zillion times, but I really understood it this time . . . maybe in life honesty isn't always the best policy but in art it is. Always.

Marc on his blackberry.

Cheerleader pilot audition outfit.