Learning from Other Professionals

By: Allison McCarthy, MBA | amccarthy@barlowmccarthy.com

I’ve been a fan of Bravo Network’s Inside the Actors Studio for some time. This Emmy nominated show is a course at the Actors Studio Drama School of Pace University. Hosted by James Lipton, each episode features a different actor, actress, director or cast being interviewed about their craft and sharing insights with an audience of master degree students.

Interviewees are a cross section of men, women, well known and not, seasoned and new, drama versus comedy, theater, big screen and/or television, etc. Mr. Lipton takes everyone through their early years – and what initially influenced their craft. From there he explores each guest’s various projects inquiring about their reasons for choosing the engagement, how they prepared for the project and what they learned from it. Each story is both interesting and entertaining.

Experts have long suggested that we can learn just as much from those outside our profession as within it. And I must say that I learn something from nearly every episode. Here are a few recent takeaways worth pondering.

  • Paul Newman“Everyone has talent but what you need is character. And I think tenaciousness is the single most important character trait. I’ve seen people with talent who simply think that’s enough. It needs to be combined with fierce determination to build it to optimum excellence.”
  • Alan Alda“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person – to really let them in and influence your response.”
  • Helen Hunt“I’m ok with losing a part if I do everything I can to get it. If I don’t do my all then I’m tortured. I’m always taking a class when I can or hiring a coach for voice, dance or a specific part. I write lots of notes in my scripts as reminders. It doesn’t all come naturally.”
  • Richard Dreyfuss“If I’m playing a character that I don’t necessarily like, as long as I can understand him and empathize with him I’m ok.”
  • Barbra Streisand“It’s not enough to have a preconception. You must look around and see what the reality is – what you can capture for real.  There isn’t unlimited money – there are boundaries. I love that challenge and required discipline.”  

What lessons have you learned from those outside your profession?

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