You read a script, and you construct a walking, breathing human from the ground up. When we create characters, we are encouraged to make them three-dimensional, right?
In acting two-dimensional characters they are at the least boring and at the most extreme irresponsible. We’re told to embrace complicated characters. We are taught that you can’t accurately play a villain until you find one thing about him that you love.
One of my favorite producers has a poster over his desk that reads: what does the villain want?
Because in art, we recognize all characters start with an empathetic motivation. On stage, we prioritize listening because we know the livelihood of a show relies on it.
We are good at remembering those things when we make art, but in our daily lives, we tend to forget. When we shift from the stage to reality, nuance seems to get lost in the shuffle. In real life, we don’t look for the one thing we love about each person.
Complicated characters get cast out, and we view things two dimensionally. It’s also becoming increasingly apparent we’re not listening to each other. Even though like on stage, the livelihood of this entire grand show relies on it.
The great news is we can all choose, right? When hard moments arise, you can lean on the experience you’ve gleaned in these past four years, and you can choose the nuance.
You can choose complexity over simplicity. You can listen to others with open ears as if your next move depends on it. You can Sandy Meisner your life.
So, Class of 2019 as you move your tassel from the left to the right and officially take the steps forward toward your forever, I encourage you, take them with your nice foot. And if you take away one thing from this, remember what I said earlier. If it’s not hurting anyone, great. Get yours and maybe share some with your neighbor.
Thank you, and congratulations.
Download This Transcript as PDF here: Kristen Bell’s Commencement Speech 2019 at USC (Full Transcript)
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