Contributed in celebration by #TKStaff Emma Welch
As this calendar year comes to an end, I am deeply moved reflecting on all that our community has weathered; and how, in both small and big ways, you showed resilience, reflection, patience, passion, vulnerability, bravery, artistry, & so much heart.
What does being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ mean to you while training at TK Studio?
Training at TK Studio started for me as a discovery and reintroduction to myself. The work we did through First Year helped me understand my emotions and accept myself as an actor. It really made me reflect each class and ask myself: what could I have done better? Why did this make me react that way? Who am I? It was groundbreaking to the point that I would find myself repeating or being stuck at the door all night long in my “dreams”. That still happens to me after every time I present a scene.
As the journey went on, I always tried to challenge myself with scenarios and emotions I’ve never before explored or that I thought would be out of my reach–trying to get comfortable in the uncomfortable. Since we’re here to learn, we might as well take some risks and have fun with it.
To me, being committed to excellence means being 100% dedicated and “obsessed” with the work (like Kendrick would say); to be fully present and available to your partner so you can have the most constructive acting collaboration; to do your homework and research and not to procrastinate because no one else will do it for you; and to remain curious and open to criticism so you can learn and keep growing through this process.
I think the concept of being committed to excellence as an artist is something that has just recently begun to click for me. I’ve just been trying to slow down. I’m someone who is always on the lookout for the next thing, searching for the next success, which doesn’t give you the permission you need to live and feel from moment to moment. I’m learning that there’s a long process ahead of me that I can only take class by class. But ultimately, I’m moving forward.
Terry has taught me to be curious instead of judgmental in my work. I’m so grateful for this because it has allowed me to stop, breathe and speak to myself with patience and compassion. It’s allowed me to not only react to feedback with sadness and anxiety, but also with lightheartedness. When you give yourself permission to discover and invite the different facets of yourself into the room (even if you may not be comfortable with them) eventually, you’ll want them to stick around because it’s real and it’s what makes up you. Isn’t it pretty dreamy to think of a day when you’re comfortable accessing so much more of yourself? I’m committed to experiencing that.
Being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ means being obsessed. It means applying everything you’ve learned into cultivating fertile ground for connection, freedom, and spontaneity in the work. It means being kind to yourself when you struggle to do that and accepting failure and pain as catalysts for growth. It means embracing ‘the process’ not as a means to an end but as a playground of endless discovery and opportunity for expansion. It means understanding that results will ebb and flow and to ride that wave with humility, knowing the impermanence of achievement. It means showing up for yourself and others with generosity and courage. It means recognizing that being an artist is a way of life and it takes work on all aspects of yourself. And it means being patient because that’s an unceasing evergrowing journey.
TK Studio is a space that invites us to be honest, open, free, and vulnerable. I feel comfortable saying I didn’t know what being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ even meant until recently.
I’ve been doing this work with Terry for over a year now. I understood what those words meant individually, but I didn’t know what they meant to me specifically. I love this work with all my heart, but often I would feel like an imposter amongst other artists ‘committed to excellence’. Where am I in this work? Why am I doing this work? When Terry asked me why I was doing this work, I felt like I knew why, but I struggled to find an answer.
I want to be the best actor I can be: that’s why. I’ll fail and struggle in class, but I’ll still go home and try to craft something better for next week. I’ve learned not to beat myself up or get inside my head and tell myself I don’t belong here. I can fail. I can make an ass out of myself and do shitty work. And that’s great because I’m learning. I get back up after falling down and return with deep, meaningful, rich and free work. The work I do here in this studio is so special. It scares the shit out of me, but it’s also fun (if I let myself have fun) and that’s pretty damn invigorating. I have an obsession with this work that grows bigger and deeper every single day.
So that’s what being ‘committed to excellence’ means to me. The willingness to be “wrong”, and not stop; to keep working my ass off and doing the best work I can do. I am continuously inspired by my fellow students and their meaningful work, the entire faculty and, of course, Terry Knickerbocker. All of you helped me discover what truly being ‘committed to excellence’ means. For that, I am forever grateful. I love you all!
MIGUEL ANGEL GUZMÁN
What a question… here it goes.
I believe being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ every day asks me to laugh at myself.
It asks me to laugh at my desire or idea of “getting it”.
There is no “getting it”.
“Getting it” and being aware of my wanting to “get it” shows me where I am not.
Wanting to “get it” takes me away from myself, from the present moment, from the other.
It’s a spiderweb that entraps me in my every habit.
I fall into the trap of my selfish desire.
When I surrender, and laugh at myself, there’s a tiny shift of weight.
Everything acquires greater clarity.
The clarity of saying “Here I am, and I invite being seen.”
As an actor, that’s the best you can do.
To allow yourself to live in that vulnerability… and to surrender.
I surrender to what’s in front of me.
I am standing on the sand, water comes in and engulfs my feet.
I don’t plan an outcome or what that will feel like.
I give myself.
And in turn, I receive.
As Mary Oliver wrote: “It’s giving, until the giving feels like receiving.”
Committing is about showing up.
If I don’t show up for myself, I can’t show up for others.
I can fool myself, and everyone will know.
Our craft can be unforgiving.
If you don’t do the work, the craft will show you the way out.
Committing to our craft is about time.
Time that expands and becomes non-linear.
It brings our past, present and future together.
Every single atom of who we have been, are or will be.
All in one precious and yet simple moment.
No big deal.
Respect your time as well as everyone else’s.
Committing to our craft is about listening and about attention.
When we show up, it means we care, we listen.
We offer our time to the things, people and experiences we care about.
All this time we’ve been listening and paying attention.
Attention to what we do, attention to whom we are with, attention to our surroundings.
We pay attention to what we love.
If I ask myself “how did I get here?”, the answer today would be:
“I got here because I listened.
Because I listened to myself.
Because I paid attention to myself.
I got here because I chose to love.”
Here I am, decidedly ready to begin.
Committing to excellence is committing to a process of evolving. It means bringing all of you – your tools, your trauma, your fear, your mess, your beauty, all of it – to the given moment. It’s a process of acceptance because only through acceptance can we evolve into the next moment. TK Studio has helped bring to light that process for me. It has served as a reminder that you can only reach excellence when you commit to fully showing up as you are – even when that feels less than excellent.
When I feel overwhelmed and like I have too much to say, I find making lists to be a helpful tool. SO! Here is a list of what being an artist ‘committed to excellence’ while training at TK Studio means to me:
1) Showing up every day with a sense of play.
2) Redefining failure to be a tool for growth.
3) Devoting myself to the lifelong exploration of understanding why I do the things I do.
4) Being reliable to myself and others. Making sure I am someone who others can count on. Striving to be the partner that I want to have for myself.
5) Embracing the unknown.
6) Having a nimble curiosity.
7) Being a sponge.
8) No matter what I think I know or how well I think I know it, always being receptive to the guidance of others.
9) Acknowledging that outside of my safety and the safety of others, resistance has no place in my training.
10) Acknowledging that I will always be able to go deeper in my work.