Hey there, I had an amazing week being a teacher and that’s what I’m grateful for – the opportunity to help and mentor anyone who cares.
What are you grateful for? Really?
I have another question for you.
What do you think is the number one regret of people on their deathbeds?
Ready? They wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. They wish they hadn’t worried so much and instead took more chances.
It’s easy to see why people feel this way. This is how most people live their lives – terrified of change and the unknown so they play it safe. And as Sanford Meisner once said, “A safe life leads to a mediocre life.”
One of the really cool things about teaching actors is my classes are filled with people daring to live a life of no regrets.
Yet I see how scared many of them are about actually doing something with their dream. Again, at least they’re taking a step towards it by going through this training but doing what they may have to do once it’s done – quit their job, move away, leave a bad relationship – terrifies them.
So most don’t do it.
That’s not a criticism. You have to be incredibly healthy to face your fears and transcend them.
Today I’d like to honor and celebrate someone who is a beautiful example of just that – Melissa Thompson Esaia.
Melissa is a heroic dreamer.
When I met her she was one of the most respected and successful actresses in the Bay Area. Yet she knew something was missing in her craft so when she heard about this acting teacher who’d come to town she decided to check him out.
That teacher was me and I accepted her on the spot.
It was so clear how much she wanted this dream of hers. She turned out to be the single greatest student I’ve eve had the honor to work with. By greatest I mean everything – talent, passion, work ethic, humility, patience, determination, and respect for the teachings.
She was a force who made every partner she had in class better because of who she was.
When Melissa finished the training she was at a crossroads. She worked for the county and was paid extremely well with a wonderful package but she hated her job.
Melissa was also in a marriage that was suffocating her. She was married to someone who was fine with her acting as long as it never grew beyond what it was, which was a problem because Melissa wanted her wildest acting dreams to come true.
She sat her husband down and told him she wanted to move to a bigger acting market and she wanted to quit her job and act full time.
He said no to both.
Melissa left her husband a week later but she needed her job with the county more than ever so that she didn’t quit.
In the meantime my school was growing rapidly and I needed someone to teach alongside me to help me expand the school. I asked Melissa if she’d be willing to try it and see what she thought. It would be tough because she’d have to work all day at her county job then drive down to the city and teach late into the evening, then get up and do it all again.
She never hesitated and soon became invaluable to the students and to me because she was incredible.
And she loved it and she thrived but this brought her to another crossroad. You see, the more she did what she loved the less she wanted to do what she didn’t love – her secure government job.
And then she did what every hero on his or her hero’s journey must do. She faced her fears head on and jumped. She quit her day job, took a pay cut in half and began teaching for me full-time.
And never looked back.
Seven years later Melissa is thriving. She’s the finest teacher of the Meisner Technique in the world who never studied with Sanford Meisner.
She continues to act but only in projects she’s passionate about.
She’s a director of films and now a producer as well.
Today is also her 40th birthday.
So on this very special day I would like to honor this very special woman. Happy birthday to you, Melissa! You are an incredible, amazing, courageous, heroic dreamer and we’re all better because of you.
What can you do to move just a bit closer to your dreams coming true? You don’t need to quit “everything” but is there something you CAN do TODAY to move you closer?
Please share with all of us on our Facebook page what that is!
As always, thank you for spending time with me.
My very best, Jim