By Guy Camilleri
RAW acting studio, (my acting studio in Venice Beach), is not for the faint-hearted. It is however for the full-hearted with a need to be heard, or the half-hearted seeking a full heart or those who want to feel again what once felt like a full-heart. It’s also for the heavier-hearted in need of finding a way to increase joy in their life to re-experience the lightness of being.
When Heather Delacroix walked into my studio last year, I discovered two things: she needs to be an actress and she loves to surf and skateboard. I was immediately on board to assist her to re-experience what once felt like a full-heart before her dream came to an abrupt halt as a teenager.
Guy: Why do you need to be an actor?
Heather: As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had the need to express myself. My first memory, my first conscious thought of being an actress was at the age of nine. In hindsight, I wasn’t able to articulate what I was feeling; I just knew it was what I wanted.
My mom (thanks Mom!), enrolled me in professional actor training from 13-19. At age 13, I played 40-year-old Linda from ‘Death of a Salesman,’ brought tears to the audience and felt for the first time, what now I can define as rapturous joy. I attended the prestigious HB Studio in NY with Uta Hagen, ACT in San Francisco, AADA in Los Angeles and UCLA Theatre Arts. Life was perfect.
Guy: Where did you go from there?
Heather: Nowhere. I suddenly learned that life has its own trajectory when my dear and only sibling was murdered. My sister was everything to me and life didn’t seem worth living if she wasn’t in the world. That summer, I was depressed, anorexic, suicidal and along with burying my sister, I buried acting for decades.
Guy: Whoa, I’m so sorry. I can only imagine what that was like for you. It would be weird not to tell you that I appreciate you for sharing this part of your story with me. So often, I experience people telling stories about their story, when what’s needed is what you just did, the authentic sharing of YOUR STORY, not a story about the story.
Heather: Thank you Guy. You hold a space that makes it safe to do that, whether it’s in the studio or right here on Abbot Kinney.
Guy: And speaking of sitting here, who are you in the world as of today?
Heather: I’ve been giving that a lot of thought since coming to your studio last year. I’m an actor, a professional psychologist researcher for video games and a truth seeker.
Guy: Would you expound on the psychologist researcher a bit?
Heather: I analyze the motivations and the subtext in creating optimal player experiences for video games. I also teach students at USC on how to observe and analyze behavior to develop better games using new skills.
Guy: Speaking of characters, let’s talk a bit about Venice?
Heather: Well, the people living here tend to be on a level that is more true to who they are, without fear of reprisal from family, societal or political norms. I’ve always felt like I live a bit outside of typical society and I feel embraced by Venice and the people who reside here. I like authentic conversations in place of small talk, not that small talk is a bad thing, I just prefer to know someone on an intimate level, and I get more of that in Venice than other parts of Los Angeles.
I also love that after going surfing or skateboarding (or both), I can sit and people watch. One of my favorite ‘people watching’ places is GTA (Gjelina Take Away) on Abbot Kinney.
Guy: Anything that you dislike about Venice?
Heather: That some of my old jaunts like Joe’s, Abbot’s Habit and Lily’s have been replaced with corporate flagship stores like Adidas. Not to sound like an old timer, but I do yearn for those ‘mom and pop’ owned stores and cafés.
And yet, the funky, crazy weird essence of Venice is still here, and that’s the part I love and embrace. In spite of these changes, I’m always meeting new people, places and pockets of authentic communities that satisfy me on a deeper level.
And it was really magical that when I decided to become an actor again, I found your class at the Electric Lodge and immediately felt I had found my home. And on top of that, I learned that you also surf and skateboard! In that sense, Venice is the gift that keeps giving.
Guy: What would you say to the person reading this and has been thinking about pursuing acting, but feels like it might be too late?
Heather: That it’s never too late to do what you love, or to explore what you are curious about. Why be living in mundaneness when you can experience more joy in your life.
Guy: What role does surfing and skateboarding play in your life?
Heather: There is a sense of flow when I surf or skateboard. Time seems to slow down. The movement itself is a dance unlike anything else. It’s also my church, and it’s where I go on Sunday (or any day), to be in communion with nature and like-minded humans. It’s also fulfilling on a spiritual level, and the coolest thing about this church is that there are no ceilings, walls or doors.
Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting-life coach and poet. His classes are packed with actors, writers, directors and creative people from all walks of life on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice. To audit, enroll in a class or book a coaching session, visit www.guycamilleri.com. Follow Guy on Instagram and Facebook.