Most of us have a variety of emotional experiences as a child, often with some degree of hurt, or even trauma or abuse, and these experiences can deeply impact our creative lives.
William H. Macy once commented, “Nobody became an actor because he had a good childhood.”
That is such a wry and amusing comment, and I have used it in several articles, including Ellen Pompeo: strength from a challenging early life.
In the article the Grey’s Anatomy star talks about the death of her mother when Pompeo was only four.
The writer of a 2006 interview article notes Ellen Pompeo “was so emotionally hamstrung by her early experiences that she drifted through dead-end acting jobs and relationships into her 30s.”
But Pompeo said, “Clearly my life hasn’t been easy, but a lot of people’s lives haven’t been easy…
“In fact, I’m really grateful for my life. It has given me the strength and tenacity.”
A very disciplined kid
Milla Jovovich portrayed such a powerful and unique character in The Fifth Element (1997), and said “I worked like hell. No band practice, no clubs, no pot, nothing.” (imdb)
She has also commented about her profession:
“To be an actor, you have to know yourself really well. That’s been a major thing for me, to really understand why I do things.”
In a Vogue article, she talked about her early life and how that has affected her:
“My mum brought me up very strictly. I’ve had a typical Russian education, very down-to-earth.
“You’re constantly being reminded that you are your parents’ little shadow. …
“I was a very disciplined kid. I was never treated like a little princess, I was never told: ‘Oh how cute you are like this!'”
“My mum criticized me more than she complimented me: that’s another Russian characteristic.
“The idea being, that a child should not be allowed to become completely self-assured.”
But she also commented about a result of that upbringing:
“I’ve more freedom.
“Before I was always trying to seem like an adult. I matured rather early.
“When I review the interviews I gave when I was little, I can’t get over it.” [Vogue (France) June/July 2003.]
Psychotherapist Mihaela Ivan Holtz helps creative people in TV/Film, performing and fine arts, and writes about the emotional and creative pleasures of their lives – and the challenges – on her site Creative Minds Psychotherapy.
Here is part of an article of hers on this topic:
As an artist, you have a deep calling to create.
And, at the same time, you need your audience to show you how much they value your art or your performance.
When you look at your audience’s reactions to your art, you see it as a reflection of who you are and what you’ve created.
Your audience is your mirror.
You may think of looking at your audience, your mirror, as a very in-the-moment experience.
When in fact, you may be seeing your entire lifetime reflected back at you – especially your earliest years.
Your childhood experiences can influence how you relate and how you expect people to respond to you.
And, therefore, your early relationships may influence what you see when you look at your audience.
Powerful emotions you’ve had when you were young may color the lens through which you see your audience’s reactions.
Dare to discover what that mirror is reflecting back to you.
Here’s a hint… It’s likely a glimpse of your early life experiences.
Do you recall how you felt as a child at home, at school, or on the playground with your friends?
Did you feel seen and valued? Did you feel encouraged and inspired?
Did you feel supported? Were you allowed to play and discover yourself in your fantasy games?
Did you feel like you were in your own hero’s world when you were playing with your friends?
What about playing alone? Did you find yourself in a magical world?
What if you felt judged, criticized, or never enough?
Maybe you didn’t feel seen and valued?
Did you feel lonely and like you couldn’t fit in?
Or, perhaps you were put down and made fun of?
Were you scared of some bully who might get you if you showed up in the crowd?
Looking into your early relationships experiences can shed some light about what your audience means to you, here and now in your present.
Your subconscious associations about early experiences can influence what you may unconsciously see when you look at current relationships, including your relationship with your audience.
Your audience can become a symbolic representation of your early memories.
Your perception of your audience’s responses, the reflections in the mirror, might be just a projection of your childhood battles that you’ve not yet uncovered from your unconscious.
When you can remember and look at these battles, you can begin to master them.
Read more in her article:
If Your Audience Is Your Mirror, What Do You See?
Lower photo: Stephen King relates an early experience that affected his emotional creative space and acceptance of himself as a writer.
King recalls his high school teacher condemning his writing as “junk” and asking “Why do you want to waste your abilities?”
King admitted in one of his books, “I have spent a good many years since – too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write.”
From article (with more quotes by Dr. Holtz): Stay connected with your emotional creative space.
Also see more Creative Mind articles with excerpts of articles by Dr. Mihaela Ivan Holtz.