Episode 216: Interview with Working Actor Lev Gorn (The Americans, For All Man Kind)
Lev is a celebrated actor, photographer, fine artist, and award-winning filmmaker.
He is currently recurring on Apple TV's FOR ALL MANKIND, and Starz' RAISING KANAN. Lev's acting career covers over 50 films and TV series.
He is widely recognized for his role as Arkady Ivonovich on FX's EMMY WINNING THE AMERICANS, and as the character of Eton on the HBO series THE WIRE.
In film, he has worked with WOODY ALLEN, SUSAN SARANDON, ROBERT DENIRO, and many others. He is set to direct his first feature film in the Fall of 2023.
What really influenced my acting as I got older is when I began to realize that good acting is really bad acting.
So for me, what became really important is behavior. Truthful behavior in imaginary circumstances.
If you approach roles, if you approach parts, if you approach scenes as behavior. Then you're not taking a page and trying to justify what the writer wrote.
I'm not going to pretend to do something if it's not me.
What I started to think of when I look at scripts now is commitment.
Just bringing the skill of utter 1,000% commitment because that's what I practice every day at my work. All of a sudden and you have an imagination of what's happened to this character, all of a sudden you have this life.
If you want to get stronger as a human being and get to know yourself better, let's just talk about AB exercises, okay? So I hate this exercise called mountain climbers. It's fucking painful. I fucking hate it. But you know, what is the number one exercise I always go to when I'm working on abs? Mountain climbers.
Why? Because that is the area of my body that is weak, that I want to strengthen. I get stronger and I build the one thing you cannot buy no matter if you are a billionaire or not. And that is self-esteem.
And the other thing that happens is, is that you gain knowledge of yourself. And the more I understand how Peter Pamela Rose ticks, the more I will be able to incorporate that into her character.
You need to face yourself on the top of the mountain every day.
Letting yourself be present in the work.
And I think that that takes a tremendous amount of self-trust and self-esteem. Because it's an incredibly brave thing to do.
Being entitled and having confidence is slightly different. I think being entitled is a positive thing. You should expect only the best. You should be entitled.
I don't mean be an asshole, be arrogant, be rude, be mean. Those things are not being entitled. Those things are just being insecure and rude and mean. Being entitled means. Yes, this. I deserve this. This is coming to me.
Be entitled. Be confident. Have humility.
But be confident enough to say, I deserve this. So feel entitled. It's okay.
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Episode 222: Realizing Your Full Potential
52:20Chiropractor for the Mind Money Mastery for Actors The longevity of the work. You helped me to see how strong I could be and how secure and how confident, and how you have to teach people how to treat you. And from that advice, I have continued to use it when negotiating clients and contracts and, you know, dating, you can't assume people are going to treat you right, and you have to stand up for yourself and ask for what you deserve. You just gave me the right tools for me to realize that it was all in my control. I didn't have to be a victim of other people's bad actions or negativity holding me back. You stand in your own way. Let's say when you came to coaching, you were operating at 30%. Of where you were at, of where of what your potential was—30%. I helped you to see—the other 70%. And on the good days, it's 100%. And on the bad days, it's 80 or 90%. But it's a heck of a lot more than the 30% that was being operated with. Life and work are hard enough. Why aren't we using our full potential? And I think we're not using our full potential because we're only aware of the 30%. We don't even realize there's a whole other 70% there. I was afraid of change. I didn't want to not be the victim anymore. It was easier being a victim and complaining than it was to actually. Deal with the issues and learn how to do things to make it better. I realized that something needed to change. I wasn't sure what it was, but I needed help. And because I was desperate. "When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, you'll change." Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at really do change. I am no longer miserable in my own head. My head is a happy neighborhood. We would rather stay in the misery because that's familiar than take the risk on the incredible. Your life is like a thermometer, and you've got a certain temperature that you're comfortable being at. But if you get too cold or hot, your body wants to return to its comfort zone. For me, that was the most challenging part about change was that I knew that I was getting out of my comfort level. The coaching: We had a global pandemic. It was not your fault. "It gets better; it gets worse; it gets different; it gets real." So what is the number one word that comes up for me when I think of Karen is capable. You had the foresight that the ability to do enormous things. You lost your business. You dealt with that. You saw your income go from mid-six figures to zero. You had a condo that you could sell. Your mom is getting older. So that's an opportunity. Also, you landed a full-time job in a company. You did that. Take a moment and acknowledge you weren't a victim. You handled this situation. And not only that, when the shit hit the fan, you picked up the tools. You picked up the core work tools, and you applied them. So incredible because when the shit hits the fan, our number one thing is to go to all the negative stuff. You are probably the most capable person you know. Can you reframe what your life is actually like? It gave me gratitude for what I did have—and reframing where I am now. I'm getting time with my mom. There's a good chance I wouldn't get this time with her if the pandemic didn't happen. But I think the hardest part still is how quickly you can go back to that little girl. And I immediately went right back to that little girl with big brown hair and, you know, the dress with the sneakers on because I felt so alone. I felt like it was my fault. I've learned that it isn't and wasn't. Use the tools to get me in the right direction quicker. Truth with a capital T: Yes, you could have made things easier for yourself with a bigger nest egg. But you also can make things easier with your thoughts. I love the Louise Hay phrase. "Stop torturing yourself." It's about creating a happy place in your brain. Sometimes my brain isn't 100% happy, but I'd say, 80% of the time, it's pretty damn happy. Exercise: find a picture of yourself. As that little girl when you started to feel the fear. And keep it with you always and refer to it always because that's who you're taking care of. Go back to that exercise, and I want you to tell her that even though, yes, you lost your footing. You still always had her back through this whole thing that has happened for you. You still had her back. There is a lot to be grateful for. The opportunity to deal with it, to show myself that, yet again, I am capable. Exercise: Please look at everything that you have shared with us today. And I want you to find the evidence that shows you that you are capable. I want you to use your life to show that you are capable. Why don't you think of it differently? Because thoughts are just thoughts, and they can be changed. I am fucking capable. The work is about realizing your full potential in all areas of your life. Love the skin you're in.
Episode 221: When You Hear "We're Passing..."
17:42Money Mastery for Actors Guide to Booking Commercial Voiceover Ken Rea Class Katie Flahive Classes Introduction to Commercial Voiceovers Advanced Commercial Workshop What to do when they “pass.” Leslie Jones/ Chris Rock Story: “You’re not ready.” Basically what she said is, what the fuck does that mean? But, she kept following him. She kept, you know, making sure he saw her work, and then one day he basically got her an audition for SNL. And sometimes a pass means just that by that one person. That you're not ready. And sometimes it means, “Hey, I can't do anything for you. I would like to, but I can't do anything for you.” I cannot tell you how many times I have said to an actor, “I don't have anything for you right now.” And I can tell that Actor believes I am lying, but I genuinely don't have anything for them at that moment. The Language of Letting Go. And I'm going to talk about the emotion of sadness. “Ultimately to grieve our losses means to surrender to our feelings." I think it takes a brave person to feel their feelings. And it takes a lot to do that. And I can fight it. I can say, No, I don't. But the best thing I can do is just feel them, process them. “But we can learn from our grief. So many of us have lost so much, have said so many goodbyes. Have been through so many changes. We may want to hold back to the tides of change, not because the change is in good, but because we've had so much change and so much loss.” Because that is something when we change, we have to let go of something to make. There is a part of me inside emotionally in my solar plexus that feels exhausted, exhausted by change, exhausted by new. “Sometimes when we are in the midst of pain and grief, we become short sighted. Like members of a tribe described in the movie Out of Africa. “If you put them in prison,” one character said, “they die.” “Why?” Asked another character. “Because they can’t grasp the idea that they’ll be let out one day. They think it's permanent, so they die.” Many of us have had so much grief to get through, sometimes we begin to believe grief or pain is a permanent condition.” The pain will stop. This, too, shall pass. Because once felt and released, our feelings will bring us to a better place from where we started. Even when an agent, or manager, or a casting director, or a project passes on us. Feeling our feelings, instead of denying or minimizing them, is how we heal from our past and move forward into a better future. Feeling our feelings is how we let go. Feeling our feelings is learning about how we feel so that we can be the vessel for characters to feel them as well. How can we play abject sadness if we have not allowed ourselves to feel abject sadness? Feeling our feelings, as artists is good, is educational, makes us better. Now, mind you, I'm saying feel them, not wallow in them. Feel them. Process them. When I'm going through a hard time, I say, “help me to feel these feelings as much as I need to in order to process them.” “It may hurt for a moment, but peace and acceptance are on the other side. And here’s the best part: so is a new beginning.” So let's feel those feelings and go out there and create our best.
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Episode 220: Resisting Negativity
16:04Today I'm going to talk about resisting negativity. I want to talk about preserving in you a spark. No matter how many times you get beaten down. That is never extinguished. The Language of Letting Go “Some people are carriers of negativity. They are storehouses of pent-up anger and volatile emotions. Some remain trapped in the victim role and act in ways that further their victimization. And others are still caught in the cycle of addictive or compulsive behavior. Negative energy can have a powerful pull on us, especially if we are struggling to maintain positive energy and balance.” HALT: stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. And when it becomes more difficult for me to resist negativity, is when I'm hungry and when I'm tired. If I let my blood sugar get too low or I get too tired, resisting negativity from other people around me becomes more challenging. But negative energy is a powerful pull on us when we are struggling to maintain positive energy and balance. It's so incredibly challenging because it's truly like being at a fork in the road and choosing, “No, I'm going to find a way to be positive or I'm going to give in to the negativity.” And sometimes it may seem that others who exude negative energy would like to pull us into the darkness with them. I'm sure you've heard the phrase misery loves company, but we do not have to go. We can choose to stay positive. We can choose to go. With good, orderly direction. Instead of going with the negativity, we can choose to find a way to stay positive. “Without judgment, we can decide it's okay to walk away. It's okay to protect ourselves.” Stepping into an imaginary bag that no one else can see. And I think of it as being a protective layer just outside my skin. And I step into it and I bring it up past my ankles, my knees, my hips, my waist and my breasts and my shoulders and all the way up above my head. And then I seal it, I seal it, and I just tell myself, this is my protection. Here things stay positive, even though I may be in negative circumstances, and especially if I know that some things are unavoidable. You know, it's going to be contentious, but it doesn't mean you have to go there as well. Drop the rope, and find ways to be kind. I think what's really important to remember is that we cannot change other people. It does not help others for us to get off balance. In fact, maybe we can make a little bit of a positive difference by being kind to them and maybe just listen. “We do not lead others into the light by stepping into the darkness with them.” That's what I mean by dropping the rope. If you think of a tug of war and that negative person is on one end and you're on the other. It's okay to drop the rope and let them carry it. “Today helped me to know that I don't have to allow myself to be pulled into negativity even around those who I love. Help me to set boundaries if necessary. Help me to know that it's okay to take care of myself and to glow.”
Episode 219: Financial Fear of the Actor
23:54Money Mastery for Actors Ken Rea On Camera with Katie Flahive Business of Voiceover The Language of Letting Go. “I sat in the car looking at a sign on the door of the food shelf office. Closed until Friday. It was Wednesday. I had two hungry children and myself. I had no money. I laid my head on the steering wheel. I couldn't take it anymore. I had been so strong, so brave, so trusting for so long. I was a single parent with two children, recently divorced. I had worked so courageously at being grateful for what I had while setting financial goals and working at believing I deserved the best. I had put up with so much poverty, so much deprivation. Daily, I worked the 11 step. I worked so hard at praying for the knowledge of the universe's will for me and the power to carry me through. I believed I was doing what I needed to do in my life. I wasn't lollygagging. I was doing my best, working my hardest. And there just wasn't enough money. Life had been a struggle in many ways, but the financial struggle seemed endless. Money isn't everything, but it takes money to solve certain problems. I was sick of letting go and letting go and letting go. I was sick of acting as if I had enough money. I was tired of having to work so hard daily and letting go of the pain and fear about not having enough. I was tired of working so hard at being happy without having enough. Actually, most of the time, I was happy I had found my soul in poverty. But now that I had my soul and myself. I wanted some money too. While I sat in the car trying to compose myself, I heard the universe speak to me in that silent, still voice that whispers gently to our souls. You don't ever have to worry about money again, child. Not unless you want to. I told you that I would take care of you. And I will. “Great.” I thought, “Thanks a lot.” I believe you. I trust you. But look around. I have no money. I have no food. And the food shelf is closed. You've let me down. Again. I heard the voice in my soul. You don't have to worry about money again. You don't have to be afraid. I promised to meet all of your needs. I went home, called a friend, and asked to borrow some money. I hated borrowing, but I had no choice. My breakdown in the car was a release. But it didn't solve a thing that day. There was no check in the mailbox. But you know what? I got food for the day. And the next day. And the next. Within six months, my income doubled. Within nine months, it tripled. Since that day, yes, I have had hard times. But I have never had to go without. Not for more than a moment in time. Now I have enough. Sometimes I still worry about money because that seems to be habitual. But now I know I don't have to, and I know I never did.” The number of years I truly suffered. But my suffering was self-inflicted. And then I remember saying to myself, “Well. You've got two choices here. You can continue to live the way you've lived with money. Or, you can try this.” Even though I knew that didn't work for me. It was comfortable. You have a goal, so let's say the goal is to be financially free. In order for that goal to happen, your thoughts must align with the goal, and your actions must align with the goal. And that is difficult. Why do I say it's difficult? Well, one, the action is difficult because you need to do contrary behavior. You need to get out of your comfort zone and do different things. But it's also about your belief system. And what you believe about money, and not only what you believe about money but what you believe money says about you. And that's why it's so damn difficult to change your behavior and to change your thoughts because. That is the combination of the two of them. Gives you a really good indication of what you believe about yourself. And that's fucking hard to face. It certainly was for me. Because it was really when I started looking at my money, did I start to unearth, did I start to excavate the real problem. Around my relationship with myself, which is I didn't love myself. And that was reflected in my self-worth. If I can get out of that stinking thinking around money, if someone who is partially dyslexic around money can learn this budget system and thrive so that they have a whole entire year of expenses in the bank as a cushion. So can you. Imagine this being the first day of the rest of your life regarding your finances.
Episode 218: Love Yourself
13:13Money Mastery for Actors Guide to Booking Commercial VO Workshop Time Management Replay Ken Rea Class The Language of Letting Go “Love yourself into health and a good life of your own. Love yourself into relationships that work for you and the other person. Love yourself into peace, happiness, joy, success, and contentment. Love yourself into all that you always wanted.” I love the idea of loving myself into health. And I think the first relationship that I always need to love myself into is, again, the one with me and also the one with the power that makes the sunshine. A love affair with your higher, smarter self: the Universe. Loving myself into peace means when I put my head on the pillow at night, it is to rest. Not to worry. Not to fret. I also love, love myself into happiness, which is allowing myself to be happy. Giving myself the space to be happy, to feel joy, to be successful, and not worry about whether the other shoe is going to drop. And then this one. I think this is a toughie. Love yourself into contentment. Can I be content? Loving myself into peace means allowing myself the stop time. A wonderful exercise is to write down all the ways you want to love yourself and have love in your life. “We can stop treating ourselves the way others treated us if they behaved in less than healthy or desirable ways. If we have learned to see ourselves critically, conditionally, and in diminishing and punishing ways, well, hey, it's time to stop. Other people treated us this way, but it doesn't mean that we have to treat ourselves this way. It's so incredible to love ourselves this way.” Now, how do we love ourselves? Well, sometimes we have to force ourselves at first. Sometimes we have to fake it till we make it. Can you work as hard at loving yourself as much as you did working not to love yourself? How do you expect somebody else to love you if you aren't loving yourself? How do you expect someone to value your work as an actor if you aren't valuing yourself and your work as an actor? Have a love affair with yourself. Wouldn't that be the kindest, most loving thing you could possibly do?
Episode 217: Money and the Actor
19:21Time Management Replay Money Mastery for Actors Today we're going to talk about money and we're going to talk about our emotional connection to money. And our faith and money, meaning faith that the money will come. I am still working on my thought patterns around money. The Language of Letting Go “Sometimes there is not enough money to make ends meet, much less afford any luxuries. People may tell us we need to do a budget and we chuckle. The expenses we need to pay for survival surpass the income. We look at the situation, shake our heads and say, No way. Many of us have had to live through these situations. This is not the time to panic. This is not the time to despair.” I used to be one of those people that would look at my finances and go, okay, well, I have I'm just going to make up numbers here, 1500 dollars in expenses and I have $1,000 to pay it with. What am I going to do? And when people would talk to me about budgeting, I would burst into tears over money situations. Learning a budget system that worked for someone like me who has a terribly unpredictable income. And that's what actors and freelancers have, incredibly unpredictable incomes. So the first part that I would say the huge change I had was really learning my numbers. And I'm going to tell you this. I did it with a tissue box next to me. I would look at the size of my bank account and I would say, well, that's my worth as a human being. And that's just bullshit. So the first thing I needed to do was get clarity, get clarity around my numbers. And then this was kind of the magical thing. Once I got the clarity. It wasn't so frightening. Once I knew what the situation was, I felt more empowered to do something about it. But yet there was another piece, which is piece number two, which is the emotional part around money. Louise Hay says that she would rather teach a seminar around sex and talk about all sorts of kinky sex than teach a seminar around money. Why? Because we all get so worked up about it. We all tie our self-worth into it. Use our minds to govern our brains, to help us to see what we are doing, to spot it, to notice it, to become aware of it, to accept it, and then to take action to get rid of those thoughts around money that don't work for us. All the gates open. And then then, as I talk about in time management, then things can really start to happen. “Panic and desperation will lead to bad judgment and desperate moves. This is the time to substitute faith for fear. This is the time to trust the universe to meet our needs. I am willing for you to show me a way around money. I am willing to learn how to manage my money. I am willing to change my thoughts around money. I am willing. Take life one day at a time and one need at a time. Use your survival skills positively. Know that your possibilities are not limited by the past. Examine any blocks that might be stopping the flow of money in your life. Do you have an attitude, an issue, a lesson that might be yours to change or to learn?” The great thing about shitty situations that come up in your life is, is that you can look at them and learn from them. But it does take that effort and that bravery and that courage to do so. “Maybe the lesson is a simple one of faith. Faith in the universe, but also faith in yourself. In biblical times, it is said that Jesus walked on water. It is said that his followers could too, but the moment they let fear take over, they sank. During financial hard times. We can learn to walk on water with our money issues. If we make out a budget and there's not enough money to survive and pay legitimate expenses, do your best. And then let it go. Trust. Source. To supply your needs. If an emergency arises and there is no cash to meet the need, look beyond your wallet. Look to your source, claim a divine supply, an unlimited supply for all that you need. Do your part. Strive for an attitude of financial responsibility in thought and action. Ask for divine wisdom. Listen to the universe's leading. Then let go of your fears and your need to control.” Once you learn it and you understand it, it's like getting on a bike. You can align yourself with abundance. And bring more abundance into your life.
Episode 216: Interview with Working Actor Lev Gorn (The Americans, For All Man Kind)
50:34Katie Flahive On Camera Class Time Management Replay About Lev: Lev is a celebrated actor, photographer, fine artist, and award-winning filmmaker. He is currently recurring on Apple TV's FOR ALL MANKIND, and Starz' RAISING KANAN. Lev's acting career covers over 50 films and TV series. He is widely recognized for his role as Arkady Ivonovich on FX's EMMY WINNING THE AMERICANS, and as the character of Eton on the HBO series THE WIRE. In film, he has worked with WOODY ALLEN, SUSAN SARANDON, ROBERT DENIRO, and many others. He is set to direct his first feature film in the Fall of 2023. What really influenced my acting as I got older is when I began to realize that good acting is really bad acting. So for me, what became really important is behavior. Truthful behavior in imaginary circumstances. If you approach roles, if you approach parts, if you approach scenes as behavior. Then you're not taking a page and trying to justify what the writer wrote. I'm not going to pretend to do something if it's not me. What I started to think of when I look at scripts now is commitment. Just bringing the skill of utter 1,000% commitment because that's what I practice every day at my work. All of a sudden and you have an imagination of what's happened to this character, all of a sudden you have this life. If you want to get stronger as a human being and get to know yourself better, let's just talk about AB exercises, okay? So I hate this exercise called mountain climbers. It's fucking painful. I fucking hate it. But you know, what is the number one exercise I always go to when I'm working on abs? Mountain climbers. Why? Because that is the area of my body that is weak, that I want to strengthen. I get stronger and I build the one thing you cannot buy no matter if you are a billionaire or not. And that is self-esteem. And the other thing that happens is, is that you gain knowledge of yourself. And the more I understand how Peter Pamela Rose ticks, the more I will be able to incorporate that into her character. You need to face yourself on the top of the mountain every day. Letting yourself be present in the work. And I think that that takes a tremendous amount of self-trust and self-esteem. Because it's an incredibly brave thing to do. Being entitled and having confidence is slightly different. I think being entitled is a positive thing. You should expect only the best. You should be entitled. I don't mean be an asshole, be arrogant, be rude, be mean. Those things are not being entitled. Those things are just being insecure and rude and mean. Being entitled means. Yes, this. I deserve this. This is coming to me. Be entitled. Be confident. Have humility. But be confident enough to say, I deserve this. So feel entitled. It's okay.
Episode 215: Setting Our Own Course in Life & Career
15:20Katie Flahive Class "Setting our own course. We are powerless over other people's expectations of us. We cannot control what they want, what they expect, or what they want us to do or be." Keep the focus on yourself. What other people think of me is none of my business. Taking care of myself pays enormous dividends. Take care of yourself first, and the rest will follow. Put on your bubble suit. When you go into difficult situations with people who push your buttons, probably because they install them, it's really helpful to know that you have a little space around you that nobody can penetrate. "We can, however, control how we respond to other people's expectations." We are not responsible for our first thought, but we are responsible for our second. I encourage you to stop taking a step back and ask yourself, "is this healthy for me or unhealthy for me?" And then responding. A response is a reaction with a pause and a thought behind it. "During the course of any day, people may make demands on our time, talents, energy, money, and emotions. We do not have to say yes to every request. No is a complete sentence. We do not have to feel guilty if we say no, and we do not have to allow the barrage of demands to control the course of our life." They are on their time, but that doesn't mean it has to wreck my day. No is a complete sentence. I do not bring stuff into my life anymore that I am not 1,000% committed to. "We do not have to spend our life reacting to others and to the course they would prefer we took in our life." We can, through core work, be strong enough in and of ourselves to know that we are enough. And keep the course steady ourselves. As Diana Nyad said, "find a way, find a way to stay on course. Find a way to stay on course." We can set boundaries. We can firm up limits on how far we will go with others. We can trust and listen to ourselves. We can set goals and direction for our life. And we can. This is so important to place value on our life, on what we want. We can own our power with people. "Think about what you want. Consider how responding to another's need will affect the course of your life. We live our own life, not by letting other people, their expectations, and their demands control the course of our life. We can let them have their demands and their expectations, and we can allow them to have their feelings. But we can also own our own power to choose the path that is right for us." Taking that time to plan out and think about what I want and my needs are. So it's finding that balance and setting my own course of maintaining the wonderful goals that I have already achieved, but yet still shooting for more. And not worrying about what anybody thinks. It's learning what is best for you and following that.
Episode 214: Self Care During Stressful Times
12:20Time Management Workshop Do the next right thing. The Language of Letting Go "Rest when you're tired. Take a drink of cold water when you're thirsty. Call a friend when you're lonely. Ask the universe to help when you feel overwhelmed." Yeah, I was in a very challenging, difficult place, along with millions of other people. But I'm here. I survived. I handled it. And out of that came self-esteem, more self-esteem that I'm capable of and will never, ever be given more than I can handle. I will never be given more than I can handle, but I will be given more than I can control. "Many of us have learned how to deprive and neglect ourselves. Many of us have learned to push ourselves hard when the problem is that we've already pushed too hard. Many of us are afraid the work won't get done if we rest when we're tired. The work will get done. It will be done better than work that emerges from tiredness of soul and spirit." Refuel. With self-love, with good food, with tea. Because nourished, nurtured people who love themselves and care for themselves are the delight of the universe. They are well-timed, efficient, and divinely led. And that is why self-care, especially during stressful times, is so very, very, very important.