By Danny Peary
“Here Alone,” perhaps the first art film with zombies, fits my category Movies That Should Play in Sag Harbor. When Rod Blackhurst’s feature debut played in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, I didn’t recognize the name of the lead, Lucy Walters–I didn’t know she was the young woman in the subway in “Shame”–and hadn’t watched “Power,” her series on Starz. And, truth be told, I went to a critics’ screening for “Here Alone” only because it was the one film that fit my schedule that morning. It turned out to be my surprise find of the festival, an exciting, well-acted, cleverly-directed post-apocalyptic thriller that balances action with thought-provoking subtlety. I thought I alone had made the great discovery of the festival’s sleeper. But it turned out that “Here Alone” would win the Audience Award! “The Walking Dead” can make room for this worthy movie with a different take.
The synopsis from the press notes: “Deep in New York’s upstate wilderness, Ann (Walters), a young woman in her late 20’s, struggles to survive after a mysterious epidemic decimates society. On the constant brink of starvation, Ann leads an isolated and regimented life. Haunted by memories of her past [her husband Jason (Shane West) was killed by those infected with the rage virus and she had killed their baby when it was infected], she also battles the current blood thirsty threat that lurks just outside of the forest’s borders, those that the epidemic infected….[A] chance encounter brings Olivia (Gina Piersanti), a teenage girl, and her injured stepfather, Chris (Adam David Thompson), into Ann’s life and regimen of survival….While Ann and Chris grow close, Olivia becomes bitter…”
Impressed by “Here Alone” and curious about its captivating and brave lead actress (what a grueling role!), I met Lucy Walters for lunch in Manhattan earlier this month to talk about her career, “Power,” and her new movie that still hadn’t found a distributor.
Danny Peary: Before talking about “Here Alone,” I’d like to go back to the beginning. Were you born in Texas?
Lucy Walters: I was actually born in Pittsburgh but we left for Texas when I was about two months old.
DP: Why did your family move to Texas?
LW: My dad had a job at the University of Texas Medical Center, in Houston. It was supposed to be for ten years at the outset but it’s been many decades and they’re still there and happy.
DP: I don’t understand how your father was a marine biologist in Texas.
LW (laughing): He does his research on Cape Cod, so I get to see my parents in the summers because I’m in New York City and they’re in Massachusetts. His field is really zoology so he is not restricted to just marine animals. For the longest time he was working with mollusks, which don’t have backbones, but now he has a grant to research spinal cord injuries and is working with rats.
DP: I read that your parents were strict and didn’t let you watch TV when you were growing up, other than PBS.
LW: My parents look at the world through the lens of biology. There was nothing sentimental about anything.
DP: Were you a happy kid?
LW: I was a pretty happy kid. I was quite a silly little ham. I know I was considered the flighty one in the family. I remember my older sister, who was the rebellious one, giving me a hard time for playing that role in the family. So I wanted to correct that and prove to everyone that I was very serious minded.
DP: Do you relate to your sister being rebellious?
LW: It’s funny because she’s very square now but at the time, she had to go through it. I think I have a real respect for that. She had a backbone. I think it takes some real chutzpah to rebel in the way she did. . I admire that my sister and my mom fought it out. I learned don’t ask don’t tell, a cautious approach that has gotten me far–although I think the characters that I play are bridge burners. The people I respond to have that energy and I’m a little too careful. I guess it’s just a fearful approach. I respond to that person who thinks consequences be damned.
DP: You went to the University of Texas and you studied economics.
LW: Economics is what I ended up doing my undergraduate thesis in. That was my concentration and it’s easier to say that than what I actually majored in. I was in this small school within this university called Plan Two. It was their honors college. Very small classes, reading and writing intensive. I loved it. It had the perks of a huge university with the intimacy of a small liberal arts college. Within that you had to chose your concentration and so that’s where economics came in. That came later in my journey. It almost felt like a rebellion.
DP: When people that time find out you’re an actress are they surprised or does it make sense?
LW: Well, I did a double degree in theater. I guess it does make sense but I think it also makes sense that I had to first do this crazy journey. I wanted to act just to prove everyone wrong. I needed a lot of that external validation because I had a complicated relationship with the craft in general and certainly a life pursuing that craft. I wanted to do something more serious minded. I was a violinist growing up, I did that very intensely. There wasn’t enough room for play and the violin. And now I feel like I want to get away from something script and play again.
DP: Your choosing not to do musical theater even before college, but to do straight theater surprises me because you’re such an effervescent person. It seems like musical theater is perfect for you.
LW: I think it felt like a good fit because I was a musician and I liked theater. I was encouraged at an early age to go that route because I had have a very foundation. I could read music and harmonize but I don’t have a musical theater voice, I just don’t. I’m not sure I had the voice but I just had the musical know-how for it. We sometimes define ourselves in opposition to other people and I felt that I didn’t get along well with musical theater types. I stopped doing musical theater in the middle of high school.
DP: Did you do theater often?
LW: I was first and foremost a violinist and the theater was like the counterpoint. It was fun but I didn’t take it seriously.
DP: How good were you at violin at your peak?
LW: I was pretty serious about it. I was taking college level master classes at Rice University at the Shepherd School of Music.
DP: Were you thinking of playing the violin for your career?
LW: Yeah. Until I realized that I didn’t want to play in an orchestra.. I played with my quartet in college and played weddings and stuff like that, but I didn’t see a career in it. Now I see people doing very interesting music with violin but at the time, For a career, I didn’t know anything besides playing with the symphony, which didn’t seem that appealing to me. I think probably if I had been more serious about acting, I would have come to the same conclusion. I just kept at it long enough because I almost didn’t take it seriously.
DP: Since your parents were so serious, were they upset you stopped being serious about violin?
LW: No. I have much younger brothers. There was all of this attention focused on my sister and I and then my parents had a second set of kids and they became very laissez faire in regard to my sister and me. They were not there when I transitioned away from violin and didn’t know what to do with my life, they were very focused on the boys who were very young. It’s probably good to be a little lost but I didn’t have things set up.. The day that I went to college, my mother said “Oh, today’s the day?” They were just very hands off.
DP: When did you get serious about acting?
LW: I guess I must have been somewhat serious in it because I majored in it but I guess I would have put more into the resources that were there. It wasn’t a great program but you get what you put in and I wish I had gotten more out of it.
DP: Did you do serious plays in college?
LW: Yeah, I did do serious plays but I wish I had done more. We did a lot of new work in college but I did Shakespeare. I did some outside of the university as well. I remember doing Stonewater Rapture and I did a Pinter play.
DP: Did you read a lot of plays?
LW: For sure. First, it’s for the family. The bonds run so deep that you’re almost looking to build your own family. I think that’s why a lot of us get into theater. I think also it’s the English department. I love dissecting literature and I love dissecting plays. I miss that in TV. In theater you sometimes get a week of table work. No acting but just a week of character work and building on the script. That’s what I was drawn to more than anything. I miss that but I have the discipline to do that on my own.
DP: Did you keep playing violin?
LW: Yes, but I wish I played more.
DP: Did you have aspirations to leave Texas?
LW: Absolutely. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to be in New York. My mom’s a New Yorker and it just always felt right.
DP: When you moved to New York was it a plan or did you do it on the spur of the moment?
LW: It was pretty planned. I had a girlfriend from college who was living here. My dad does his research on the Cape, so I spent my last summer being a kid there. Then they drove the Texas minivan from the Cape home and dropped me off in Bushwick, in Brooklyn. I had younger brothers and they were horrified. I was living in the type of first apartment you might expect when you find it on Craigslist. There was a trapeze in the living room, I lived with a bunch of sideshow performers with tattoos on their faces and a transvestite. It was very exciting. Then I started my life. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I did have a fair amount of community here, including my girlfriend. We had studied with the same economics professor, Kenneth Goldsmith, at Rice, and he was now doing finance in New York and opened the door for a lot of opportunity for me. I was really close to going that economics route, which is funny because it’s so different than who I am. They just wanted people who were good at math. It’s just so funny that’s the route I flirted with because it’s so far from the route I chose. I like the idea of stability but right when I was about to start a training program at the Bank of America, I got a job doing pizza commercial.
DP: How did that happen?
LW: When you don’t come from a fancy school, it’s hard to get an agent. But when I first came here, I freelanced for a commercial agent. The pizza commercial. wasn’t glamorous but it made me think, “Let’s give this a shot for a year.” The problem with this acting career is that it’s just seductive enough to keep you in it for another year.
DP: The commercial was this first thing you booked?
LW: Yes, because those are the only people who will take a real gamble on you. I didn’t have a fancy pedigree.
DP: In addition to commercials, you made a number of short films. How did people find you?
LW: I had a roommate who was a filmmaker going to NYU Tisch. It was through doing those shorts that I realized how much I loved filmmaking. Sometimes the machine is so big that you’re missing all the interesting parts as an actor; you’re just shuttled from your trailer to a set. But on these NYU shorts–as it would be with Here Alone, when we were making a movie in the middle of nowhere–there’s a skeleton crew and you’re up close with them and the director when hard choices are made– How do we scrape things together and make this work? That to me is the fun part. When it’s too slick, sometimes I miss the grit.
DP: You had a breakthrough of sorts in 2011, playing the young married woman who at two different times on the New York subway, maybe a year apart, exchanges glances with Michael Fassbender’s sex-addicted stranger in Steve McQueen’s Shame. How did that come about?
LW: Good luck. I had a relationship with Avy Kaufman, the casting director. She had seen me for another role in that film and I think it was her support that got me an interview for the woman on the subway while they were actually already filming. I took a meeting at 11pm on a Tuesday night with Steve as he walked to Michael’s trailer. And a few days later I got a call saying, “Can you be on the set?” I had never seen a script. I had no idea of the context of those scenes. I don’t think they had been really written. I don’t know. It was not a normal audition because there weren’t lines. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t know what I was doing because sometimes you feel it’s your job to craft a story. By not knowing, I was able to just react to an incredible scene partner.
DP: You say you didn’t have to craft a story on the spot, but I read that you came up with a whole back story for your character.
LW: You have to do something but it was a good lesson in not over planning or over thinking because we can do that too much as actors–I can do that. In a sense, we were lucky that we didn’t have enough time. We did only two takes of that first scene. We actually illegally shot the second scene after the film had wrapped. We kind of did it guerilla style with the director, the DP and a very skeleton crew and shot it on the G train in the middle of the night, which was hilarious. But that first scene, there was technical stuff because we had to walk through a sea of extras when we leave the subway car, with him following her.
DP: We don’t see them in the same shot. We see him looking at someone. We see you looking at someone. It’s the editing that makes it appear that they are gazing at each other. The editor includes a shot of you crossing your legs. It’s an erotic moment–were you told that there should be eroticism in this scene?
LW: Yeah. We talked about how there should be a variety of feelings. Steve certainly wanted a range. There certainly had to be something there between us..
DP: Do you think your character will think about him after she sees him on the subway?
LW: Oh, I’m sure. You start to see some of the same people on the same commutes. I like to think we’ve seen each other before. There’s been something. Steve allows the audience project what they want onto these characters and this moment. Which I think is always more interesting and powerful then to have it spelled out.
DP: Which is why it’s a scene without any dialogue.
LW: I would love to have scripts written so I could understand exactly where we are trying to go and I would be so much happier just to film them without words.
DP: Does she want to see him again on the subway? What if they meet a third time?
LW: I think the power of that scene is everyone feels something differently about it. I’ve only seen that movie once. I’d like to see it again now because I loved that movie. I remember thinking that she was excited by their encounter and there is possibility, but she shut it down because she was newly married. There has to be something there or there would be nothing to shut down. Maybe after a year has gone by and she sees him again, she’s more open to what things may have been. I’d like think she’d wouldn’t be afraid to see him again and would be open to that. It is Michael Fassbender!
DP: Does anyone ever recognize you on the subway from that scene?
LW: Once or twice on the subway! It’s funny, Steve wanted very New York-looking people. He didn’t want actors that looked like actors or models. Part of that was some of the costume pieces were things from my own wardrobe, including the thrift store purple hat. I rarely wear that hat because it’s in the film, but I was running out the door once and needed a warm hat so I put it on and was caught. I remember feeling doubly embarrassed as though I was asking for the attention. What’s nice is that we didn’t know what it was going to end up being. It ended up being a great thing for my career and I’m so grateful for that. It was a testament to filmmaking that when you give something a score and some real time, it can became a nice poem of a scene. That’s a credit to the director and editor and composer. All of these components made it something powerful, way beyond anything I did.
DP: You were in a few movies after Shame–including The Brass Teapot and Lies I told My Little Sister, in which you had the lead–and made many appearances in popular TV shows like The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, and Rizzoli & Isles–but you are best known for playing Holly in the Starz series, Power, which is going into its third season.
LW: Power has been a great platform for me. Just working regularly on the same show for a good length of time is such an education. People took a minute to find the show, but they are finding it. Holly’s such a fun part to play because she’s just trouble. It has been liberating to play because fans hate this character. Hate her! That the fans really hate her has been liberating because I am no longer trying to please anybody. I don’t have to be pretty, I don’t have to be likable. I can just be raw and trashy and mean and ugly and all the things that you’re usually not allowed to play. It’s been fun. It’s really, really liberating to get to play the worst and best parts of yourself.
DP: For the lead in “Here Alone” did you audition?
LW: I did not audition.
DP: I read that Rod Blackhurst tweeted you.
LW: That’s right. I have no idea why he thought of me. He might have seen what I’d done, but there are a lot of actors as well. My guess is that the producer Noah Lang had a hand in it. That’s a very good question and I’m not sure I want to know the answer. These things are so serendipitous. My reps were not excited about it at first. But I knew some of Rod’s friends so he was vetted to some degree and then I Skyped with him and was really taken with him. Then I thought, “Why not? Let’s just do it.”
DP: Had you seen Rod’s short, Alone Time, about a young woman from the city who camps alone out in the wilderness?
LW: I just watched it recently. He talked about it as being the genesis of Here Alone. It was also filmed upstate.
DP: I know he also met Gina Piersanti by tweeting her. But were you the first cast?
LW: I think so. I’m not sure when they first spoke to Gina but I know they didn’t think the shooting dates would work for her. Eventually they did work out.
DP: I saw this movie by default–nothing else was playing at the time–at the Tribeca Film Festival, and was really surprised by how good this movie is.
LW: I think we were all surprised by it. Even when you read the script, you don’t know what it’s going to be. I’ve read great scripts that were executed poorly and mediocre scripts that were turned into good movies. You just don’t know because a movie is a huge machine with so many parts. Even with a great director and great editor, you just don’t know.
DP: You probably took this film partly because it was a lead role for you, but if you were already a big star and this script came to you, do you think you would have wanted to do it?
LW: So much of it is the people. Who do you want to go into a foxhole with? If you trust the people you will work with, the other stuff is irrelevant. I was hungry to take a part like Ann after being immersed for the past three years in Power. And I love playing Holly. I had normally been cast as the sweet girl and Holly is certainly not that. She’s trouble. She is so different from Ann. You’d think that an extreme, midnight zombie movie shouldn’t be realistic, but Ann felt way more aligned with who I actually am than Holly. She is not a woman who leads her sexuality, she is not a woman who engages in quippy banter. She just is just s survivor. She just does what it takes to survive. You know, I live my life with a furrowed brow just trying to get through it. So I related to that and her. There’s nothing cute or sexy or anything. She is just taking life very seriously. It’s different circumstances but I take life way too seriously and just getting food some days feels like enough. It’s New York City, and if you get food and do the laundry in a day it’s like whew! It’s Ann’s grit that I responded to.
DP: What did you and Rod talk about in terms of this character? Did he want you to understand her more than he did?
LW: Because this was a small film, Rod was doing everything. So there wasn’t a lot of time for us to get into who these people are. We did a little bit. We Skyped and had some conversations. He gave me a lot of information on what the disease was like that created the zombies. He really wanted this to seem real. But where Anne is emotionally, he let me figure a lot out for myself. I was in a weird place, I was coming straight from another film. That was all-night shoots, and you start to lose your mind when you don’t sleep for two weeks. So I was deeply depleted when we started this film. Also I was in the middle of my own breakup. So I still was not sleeping during the time we made Here Alone. Which was crazy because filming it was so exhausting. Needless to say, I had done work to figure out where she was but at the end of the day it didn’t matter because I was in my own weird state and that informed her. I had mapped it out, but it was enough to be wrestling with what I was wrestling with because it showed through. That’s why I like this type of storytelling. It doesn’t have to be so demonstrative.
DP: Are you glad it was done with flashbacks, showing Ann, her husband and baby flee the city because of the epidemic and try to survive in the wilderness. rather than chronologically?
LW: Maybe it did help. We shot in the dead of winter in the hopes that there would be snow. I wonder if it was hard for the audience members to tell what were flashbacks but for me the actor, it was nice because the flashbacks didn’t contaminate each other. I think it would have been fine no matter what we did.
DP: Did Rod see himself as any of the characters, including Ann? He did grow up in the Adirondacks.
LW: He never talked about that. Then again, he didn’t write he screenplay, David Ebeltoft did. None of them talked about it. But Rod is an outdoors guy.
DP: Gina Piersanti’s and Adam David Thompson’s characters don’t show up until midway through the movie, but were they on the set the whole time?
LW: When I first came, it was just me. I had a long road trip with the director to where we filmed in Corning, New York.. While he and the crew were in pre-production, I learned how to shoot a gun. Gina and Adam came probably four or five days after I had been there by myself. Which was probably good because it was Ann’s world that they were entering. Gina’s great and I loved working with her. Adam, too. is such a great guy. I’d known him previously and we were already friends.
DP: Between the time Ann’s husband is killed by zombies and she kills her baby and the arrival of Chris and his stepdaughter Olivia, does Ann talk to herself?
LW: Not much. A little bit. She does some counting and a little bit of muttering.
DP: Does she worry about her sanity?
LW: Probably but like I said, she’s not worried about her own health. She is in a pragmatic way, trying to get through the day, but she certainly isn’t trying to make this cushier for herself. She thinks she has to pay penance.
DP: We talked about Alone Time, which Rod Blackhurst and David Ebeltoft cowrote. They also have another unfilmed project with Elgin James called North. It’s about a parolee who rides a bike up the California coast to figure out what it means to be free. He has a goal and kind of least an abstract destination. But Ann doesn’t really have anything in her life.
LW: She’s just made a prison for herself and I think a lot of that her self-flagellating because she is not getting over her guilt from killing her sick baby.
DP: Does she fear dying?
LW: No. I think in some ways the easy thing to do would be to just kill herself or just let it end. In some ways, her living through this is a form of punishment.
DP: She had been a nurse. Where does that fit in?
LW: There’s a toughness to being a nurse and there’s a toughness to Ann. I remember reading the script and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be more interesting if she came from a cushier life?” We chose things like Ann’s underwear. She would have frilly, lacy bras. That made sense to me. This is a woman who isn’t her world but Jason’s, this isn’t fun for her. She’s a person who likes sweet, fun things. She’d choose the frilly bra not the practical bra. That’s a key for me that this woman trying to survive in the wilderness isn’t who Ann is, although she proves to be tough enough to survive. There’s a toughness to someone who can be a nurse and that I’m so impressed by. She can’t be squeamish, she has to get things done.
DP: She also proves to be nurturing to the injured Chris and tries be almost motherly with Olivia.
LW: Ann clearly is nurturing and she’s a caregiver but not in a gooey way.
DP: Ann and Chris are drawn to each other, but they don’t seem to see what we see, that Olivia is attracted to her step-father and is jealous.
LW: Yeah, I guess they do drop the ball by not picking up on that. But I guess Ann might be taking on a more motherly role with her….actually I don’t know what’s going to happen between Ann and Olivia moving forward.
DP: The synopsis in the press notes concludes: “As an uneasy tension grows, their lives are threatened when the protective forest is breached by the infected. Under attack, Ann is forced to confront her past.” That’s not right is it?
LW: Hmm. No. She’s always confronting her past, it’s 24-hour guilt.
DP: In the flashbacks, she seems to love her husband Jason, but not a lot. I think he annoys her. Is that true?
LW: They wanted the script to show that their relationship was not great. Jason’s proposal was not great. This was not a great love to begin with and now they’ve become roommates. They’re trying to do the right thing by being with each other. They have a baby..
DP: I wonder if her guilt is only in regard to the baby and not about her husband, who got killed by zombies. when she insisted he go out at night in search of food.
LW: I’m sure she has guilt about both of them. As much as she resented him, it sure was nice to have a teammate.
DP: All of a sudden she gets a new family when Chris and Olivia arrive. Is that how you see it?
LW: Certainly not at first. It takes a little while for her to judge their intentions.
DP: Not long. I think she is pretty welcoming.
LW: I guess you’re right. That first scene when she saves him, she does not have to do that but that’s her nature.
DP: Was it ever mentioned on the set that you were making something different from “The Walking Dead?”
LW: They tried to never talk about it because they were trying to do their own thing. I actually haven’t seen that show!
DP: Ann flees a deserted house with some food she took and some fast-moving zombies give chase. Did you realize how it was being filmed, how the zombies behind you would be blurry and sort of shadowy?
LW: No. I remember wondering and hoping for the best. I didn’t want it to be a B-horror film but without the budget to do special effects, I just wondered about the quality.. I remember trusting them and choosing to believe that it was going to work.
DP: It’s not a zombie movie really. It’s a survival movie.
LW: I agree. Going back to “Shame,” I think the most powerful things were those that were not spelled out for us. So our imaginations are what make it interesting, our imaginations projecting onto what is happening with no dialogue in our scene at the beginning of Shame or what these zombies actually look like if we could see them clearly. Somehow when you actually see them toward the end of the movie, the fear dissipates a little.
DP: Was the nudity hard to do?
LW: Here’s the deal, I was scared of nudity for a very long time. Film is permanent. It is out there and there are just so many icky sites. So much of having to be a shape shifter because once it’s out there, there’s no reason for putting on your push up bra anymore. There it is. In a weird way, nudity is kind of liberating. It took me a long time to get there. After Power, this was a piece of cake. That has a lot of nudity and it’s all sexualized and was very scary to do. In Here Alone, the nudity isn’t sexualized. It’s realism. It’s not trying to be a hot body. That’s a scary thing to do, to never feel like you’re enough. And this one was just realism. The nudity is just in service of the role. There were moments that I was clear that I didn’t want the nudity to be all gratuitous and if it wasn’t necessary, I really didn’t want it to be in there. I didn’t want to throw a big stink, but I had to trust that if Rod told me it wasn’t gratuitous then it wasn’t. It’s a tricky thing but I’m trying to become more European about saying “fuck it.” Besides being very cold, I’m getting way more comfortable with it.
DP: I thought when Ann washes off the mud from her nude body that it was a brave scene for you. There’s a metaphor. She can never clean off the guilt. And what this woman has to go through when she is caked in mud. Was that part of what you were thinking?
LW: Yeah, and I sort of like the idea of going all the way. There’s nothing more vulnerable than that. There’s no skimping. You’ve got to get raw and filthy. You had to go all the way for this film and I like that.
DP: Well, all other actors can complain about what they’ve gone through in movies, but you can always say, “I did this!”
DP: If “Here Alone” was done by a lousy director, it could have been a lousy movie.
LW: It’s about trust. And sometimes I have to take a leap of trust because I didn’t really know him but there’s something to Rod that I did respond to.
DP: Where does this movie fit into your career?
LW: I’ve always wanted to do independent films and I want to do bigger and more substantial roles. I’d like to think that this will open the door to make that more possible.
DP: So you have a lot of pride in this movie?
LW: For sure.
DP: What was it like to be at the Tribeca Film Festival?
LW: It’s such an honor. No one took it seriously, it was the Midnight part of the festival. For these boys to get this break. I’m just so thrilled for them. Tribeca is a lovely festival and it’s nice to be on your home turf because there is that support. I was really proud to get to be a part of it. It’s nice to get to be living here and experiencing it. I was glad the film did as well as it did and won the Audience Award because I don’t think it would have been on everybody’s radar.
DP: Before our lunch today and later today you are auditioning. Having seen you be an engaging guest on Afterbuzz for Power, my guess is that you do well at auditions.
LW: I actually don’t. I think I could, but this comes back to something that I’m working on in myself. It’s like my wishing I had been a fiddler rather than a classic violinist. I think there’s something deep in me and it’s not helpful that it’s still looking for the right answer. When it works, I go in there and I understand the character and what it is I’m bringing and I’m just so confident with that that I don’t need anything else. I can to present what I want to do with the role and they either respond to it or they don’t. That’s when it goes well. This is not something I want to admit, this is like a fault, but I think that sometimes at auditions, I’d like to ask, “Can we talk about the scene?” Because if I have time to prepare, I can kill it. The way auditions often work is that it’s next morning and you have a lot of material to learn. For me it’s a slow process– I need to sit with a script, think about it, daydream on it and get those juices going. It’s not a five-minute microwavable. It’s a stew that needs to simmer to get those flavors in. I’m not a good memorizer. There’s work involved to make it effortless. When I’m not super prepared, I lose my confidence because I know what it should be. It’s like how test taking has very little to do with wisdom or knowledge. They are different skills.
DP: But you seem completely comfortable in the work I’ve seen from you.
LW: I’m getting there. I think I spent the early part of my career trying to be what people wanted me to be. But you have to get to the point where it’s not about getting validation from others, getting that A, but about pleasing yourself. This is not a revelatory thought but spending so much time trying to cover up the things that I didn’t want people to see is exhausting. When things have started to finally work, it’s when I’m no longer trying to be something. I’m just embracing or loving those flaws I have. I can’t tell you how many times I wore push up bras or do something else to be what I thought others wanted.. But if they want that there are plenty of real models. What I’m bringing is those imperfections. Those flaws are actually character. Those flaws are actually interesting and something to embrace rather than cover up.. This is not a fresh thought but for me it has felt very fresh. It has felt like, I finally understand what my job is.
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