“Avoid boxing yourself into choices without allowing yourself a period for discovery.” ~ Sonya Cooke
Sonya and I haven’t known each other for very long, which says a lot for the amount I’ve already learned from her. We connected this past September when she was in need of a last minute proof read of her book which she was very close to having published. My friend Kathleen, who I had edited for in the past, was a student at Sonya’s Acting Studio of Orange County and when she heard of Sonya’s need, she graciously thought of me. I happened to be free and it was within a few days’ span of working with Sonya that I realized, someone very special had crossed my path.
I will do my best to list the plethora of hats Sonya regularly dons. She is the Founder/CEO/Owner and Head Teacher of Seven Pillars Acting: LA Studio and the Actor’s Studio of Orange County. She is also a Film/TV, Commercial and Voice-Over Actor, a producer, and the creator and author of Seven Pillars Acting. What a busy lady! Pursuing, creating and involving herself in so many wonderful endeavors. When the opportunity arrived to get to meet Sonya in person this January, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Not to belittle myself, but sometimes it can be intimidating to be in the presence of someone who is so accomplished with so much charisma and ambition and drive. Well, it turns out I had nothing to be nervous about. Within seconds of meeting her, I learned Sonya is all those wonderful things, but she is also more… She is warm, and grounded, and kind hearted, and gentle and incredibly nurturing, and supportive of those around her.
Her book, Seven Pillars Acting, the one she wrote to encapsulate the comprehensive technique she designed for the modern actor, is BRILLIANT. I remember thinking to myself as I was proofing it that not only was it absolutely going to help actors become better at their craft, but there was a significant amount of material that would be spot on and superbly helpful to writers.
To quote Sonya: “Acting is not an escape; actors put themselves in the line of fire, exposing themselves to tremendously high stakes to tell a story.” Which is exactly what we do as writers, too! When Sonya equates creating a role with building a house, light bulbs instantaneously go off in my head. “You have to build a house before you can live in it, right? It’s much the same for the actor creating a role. In order to bring the character to life, the actor must craft his circumstances, history, and life conditions.” ~Sonya Cooke
The beautiful thing about this book is that it goes even a step beyond. Not only will an actor or writer benefit from Sonya’s experience, tips and philosophies which she shares in a very organic and natural way–not formulaic or mechanical, but so will non-actors and non-writers as she touches on the heart of communication and the human experience. I’m not sure how she managed it, but she has truly written a book that while intended to help actors, ends up being for every one of us! There are so many more passages of this book I have earmarked to quote (like my favorite section which explores the lifespan of a human emotion…pages 183-187). My hope is that if you are looking for answers or assistance or a fresh perspective on how we as humans operate and affect each other, you will check out Sonya’s book. I honestly feel you will not only benefit from reading it, but you will be touched, inspired and entertained as well, just as I was.
GIVEAWAY: Thank you so much for stopping by the mermaid lagoon today and learning a little more about a wonderful book and its author! In celebration and appreciation, I am giving away a signed copy of Sonya’s Seven Pillars Acting. All you need to do to be entered is leave a comment below. The winner will be randomly selected one week from today on the evening of Friday, March 2nd. Good luck, everyone! (Continental US mailing addresses only please due to shipping fees. Thank you so much for your understanding.)
Have a productive and inspired day!