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Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. Today we are talking with an incredible actress, businesswoman, mother, and wife. Like so many of us, she is multipassionate and she’s here to share a bit about her journey to creating a life she truly loves.
Bryce Dallas Howard continues to be one of the most versatile and dynamic talents both on screen and behind the camera. As an actress, you may have seen Bryce in the Oscar nominated film, The Help, starring in Jurassic World, or you can catch her now in Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. Bryce made her film debut in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village. She also received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Rosalind in HBO’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. As a filmmaker, Bryce has directed over a dozen short films and has received numerous accolades for her work, including being shortlisted for an Oscar in 2012 for her film When You Find Me. She’s the founder of 9 Muse’s Entertainment and lives with her husband Seth, their two children, a hilarious puppy, a dignified elderly cat, and countless captive bugs.
Bryce, thank you so much for coming on MarieTV.
Oh my goodness, thank you so much. It’s very surreal. I feel like I’ve memorized every single thing on this set and, you know, and everyone that you work with are basically celebrities in my eyes, so this is… this is amazing. This is incredible.
Well, I love that we’re connected through B-School, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. But first I just wanted to let you know, the more that I get to learn about you, the more I fall in love with you. And that’s why I was so excited to have you on the show today because you have so many incredible stories that are so relevant for all of us as creatives. So let’s take it back, let’s travel back in time.
Most people know you for your knockout performances like in Jurassic World and The Help and so many other things that you’ve done. But what most people probably don’t know is that you grew up with a learning disability.
Yes, a few. Actually, yes.
Can you tell us about…?
Yes, yeah. It was… looking back on it obviously it was, like, no fun sort of as it was happening. But looking back on it I realized that it really… it was a wonderful gift in a lot of ways because in getting diagnosed with learning disabilities, in the going through school in a way that… I actually loved school, I loved my teachers, I loved my friends, but it was very, very, very challenging for me and it was always a struggle to keep up. And the only way that I was able to keep up was getting very clear about what my strengths were. And so in hindsight it was fantastic because people aren’t strong at everything. Like, they shouldn’t be because we all need our specialized things that only we can do, like what, you know, that special gift that only you have. And I think just going through all of that I realized, ok, I’m very good at one thing. I’m pretty good at 4 or 5 things. And that’s how I’m gonna live my life, and it’s been really wonderful.
What exactly were your learning disabilities?
Yeah. Totally. So basically the way it all evolved was when… I was a really happy kid, was always a happy kid and sweet and stuff. And so teachers liked me and everything. And so it always pained them so much to have to, like, bring my parents in and say, “We don’t know if she can go on to first grade.” You know? Stuff like that, because I was working hard and they just, you know, they all wanted me to win. And it’s… the first kind of red flag was actually when I was in kindergarten going into first grade and just not being able to understand the concept of reading, not really understanding words or writing. And it was still early but everyone could see that I was going to have significant reading difficulties. As I got older, it became clear that there were some other things as well. I mean, these are, like, technical terms. I have a processing deficiency, which is amazing because I got to take my SATs untimed, so that was… that worked out for me. But it is… I need to take my time with certain things, and that’s just a reality. And I think… I mean, I understand that it’s considered a disability, but I don’t feel that being thorough is a negative thing, and I’m just thorough. You know? And then there was also a visual processing deficiency, which is that basically I never know where I am at any time and I can’t really… like, I get lost very easily. But as it applies to school, just conceptually if I look at a map of the United States of America, I know where California is, I know where Florida is, and I don’t think I know where anything else is. I have a general sense of things, but it’s just very difficult for me to understand… I don’t know if it’s the geometry of it or what it is, but it’s just… it’s tricky for me.
So when I was… this all kind of came to a head when I was in 7th grade and the pressure had been mounting in terms of, my school went through 9th grade, getting into a high school. And a lot of the kids at my school were really ambitious and they wanted to go to, like, Exeter and, you know, just like these very challenging academic high school programs. And my teachers were concerned and so I went through a battery of tests and this is where I learned about the learning disabilities, but there were also things that came out of it where I realized what my strengths were, and significant strengths. And so what it basically was was that my, again, I was in 7th grade, my math was at, like, a 4th grader’s level, my spelling was at a 2nd grader’s level. I think it still is, frankly. Thank goodness for spell check.
Yes, for sure. And then, of course, you know, some challenges with time and understanding spatial things as well. But what came out of the test was that I am actually in the top 1% of the world for common sense. It’s called something a little bit fancier, but that’s basically what it is. And then we also learned that as I grew older and things became more about the big picture rather than the little details, that my mind would work very well with that. So the therapists were always kind of consoling my parents and being like just to hang in with her, by the time she’s an adult this is all gonna be ok. It’s, like, she’s not gonna have to be putting together, I don’t know, like grammatical structures and identifying the prepositions and identifying, you know, what the adverbs were. That would be very hard for me still, but she can write a story. You know, she can tell a story. Like, this is… like, don’t worry about all of that. And, again, spell check. So, anyway, what worked out for me with this top 1% of having common sense, my best friend at the time, who is still one of my closest friends, this incredible woman named Alice Levitt, and she is a genius. She’s like an off the charts genius, truly. And she… I basically did everything that she did. So, like, whatever she was interested in, I was interested in. And I admired her so much and I admired her intellect and her wit and her very weird interests in cinema, and… like, she got me into The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I just would really do anything that she would do. And she found this summer camp at Vassar, which was summer institute for the gifted where you could take college level courses. And she was really at that stage in 7th grade. And because she was going I was like, “I want to go,” and my parents just kept saying, “Are you sure you want to go to school in the summer at a college?” Like, they were really worried. And I was like, “No, no, no, I wanna go with Alice. It’s gonna be so fun.” And so I remember looking at the application because they were kinda like, “If you wanna do this you need to do this by yourself, because you probably won’t want to do this and you’ll probably wise up and quit before you actually apply.” And so I was sort of left on my own to figure out how to apply and I remember looking at the application and it actually said… it asked for transcripts, it asked for all of this, but it said that if you are in the top 1 percentile in any area in a standardized test that’s been acknowledged by the school, you will gain admittance. You’ll get to go in. And I busted out those scores from all my tests for learning disabilities and I was like, “Top 1%! Common sense!” And I got in and I ended up going several years and it was wonderful. And I actually did start to piece together that having common sense is sort of maybe the most important thing to have in life. And so I just kept kind of after going to a, you know, a summer program for the gifted, it suddenly I was like, “Oh, I’m one of those gifted challenged people. That’s what I am.” And it just… I reconceptualized kind of everything and I started to believe in myself again. Because when I went to school I wasn’t the kid who was in special ed, I was the kid who was amongst these really impressive peers who were all taking college courses in their free time.
And you probably felt inadequate.
Yeah. Well, I thought that I would feel inadequate. Well, not even. No, I think I was a little deluded. I think I… I think I felt inadequate at school. Yes, definitely I felt inadequate at school, but when I saw that I could get admitted from that one thing I was like, “I belong there.” And my… I just, I started feeling really confident. And in 9th grade I was put in an English as a second language class as my English class. And I don’t speak a second language. And then by senior year I won the English award in my high school. And so it was… there was definitely… there was definitely a kind of a significant journey that happened in a very short period of time during my youth.
Well, it goes to show the power of recognizing a strength.
Something that you can do even if there are other areas that there are challenges, and that’s why I was really interested to hear you tell that story because I think so many of us can be in an environment where perhaps we’re not good at everything and we can start to have that self talk that we’re deficient, we’re not good enough, we don’t belong, and yet all it takes is that one discovery of something you are good at. And I’ll say, with common sense, it’s really funny. My mom, who loves the show. And, mom, I love you, she’s always like, “I wanna…” A, she always wants to see more funnies. She wants to see me dancing more. But she’s like, “You know? Everything you say is really common sense, Marie.” And I’m like, “Yeah. You’re kinda right. It is.” So I do think it’s good. Now, let’s fast forward a little bit. Tell me about the trip that you took when you were 16 with your grandma and the very important lesson she taught you playing the nickel slots.
Yes, yes, yes. So my grandparents, they grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. And my grandfather’s family, they were farmers and my grandmother, her father was the town butcher. And his name was Butch, and that was his given name.
So that was his destiny. But… so they grew up in an environment where they really learned about the importance of frugality and the importance of hard work and perseverance and that definitely impacted them significantly. And so as… just in their life overall they were just these very Midwestern, Zen, honorable individuals. And I admired both of them so much and my grandfather is still with us and I still admire him and look up to him. And I would… any opportunity that I could get to spend time with them was something that I would just jump at. So my grandmother and I in particular, we were very, very, very close. And when I was 16 years old, it’s the age that you have to be in order to legally walk the floors in Vegas. You can’t gamble yet, but you can actually be there. And my grandmother was so excited because she just loved Vegas. She would… her cap would be 20 dollars, so she would not spend more than 20 dollars there during the entire trip. And she would use it all just in the nickel slots. So she would just, yeah, she would just get a big cup of nickels and she would play with it. And I think it sort of symbolized, I think the whole notion of gambling overall, symbolized sort of the industry that they had been in because they were actors and… and it’s just a really kind of crazy, unwieldy, uncertain industry. And so basically what happened was I went with them and my grandmother was playing the slot machine and she was losing and yet she was still playing. And she just out of nowhere… I think she had the hunch that I wanted to be an actor. And she said to me, “Do you know how many auditions the average working actor needs to go on typically before booking a job?” And this is the average for people who are paying their SAG dues. So they’re making their living as actors. And I guessed one in 10. And she said to me, “No, it’s 64. One in 64 auditions.” And it was just this clarifying moment for me to have an understanding of what the odds statistically were. It didn’t… I feel like in creative businesses there’s so much romance, it’s like this person did this one thing and then they skyrocketed to just never ending success. Or, you know, it’s they did it within a year, they did it within 3 months.
These unicorn stories.
Yes, unicorn stories. And knowing the statistics is so grounding. And so when I later when I started auditioning, and incidentally my grandmother had retired from acting during the child-rearing years with my dad and my uncle and as the grandkids were being born she actually went back into acting in her sixties.
I know. And she… this is how determined she was. She actually, she was counting the number of auditions she was going on and she got up to 100 without booking a job and then she’s like, “Ok, I’m gonna start the count over at one and then we’ll see if I make it to 64.” And then by 64 she did actually book a job, and then she had this tremendous hot streak for the last 10 years of her life. So when I started auditioning after kind of, you know, having an understanding of these odds and being very inspired by her stick-to-itness, I just started counting. So one audition, 2 auditions. And I promised myself I wasn’t gonna get upset if I didn’t book something before 64 auditions because that would be deluded thinking because the reality is is that’s the average.
And that’s the average for a working actor.
For a working actor, a successful actor.
And you were just starting out.
Yes, and I actually said to myself also I was like, you know, I think I’ll do the same as my grandma. I’ll get up to a hundred and then start over again. And then, you know, if I go 200 auditions without anything, I might… I might look around for some feedback and see what I could maybe do differently. And it was I believe the 48th audition for me was… I got that job. And my agent then, who is still my agent today, so we’ve worked together for 16 years, she later asked me, because it was way over a year. And she said, “How did you not quit?” She was like, “I don’t want to offend you with this question,” but she said, “I was really getting worried and most actors quit long before you did.” And I told her that story with my grandmother. And she went, “Whoa, yeah. That’s true. I wish more artists knew that. I wish more creative people understood that because then they wouldn’t be so hard on themselves.” And when you’re hard on yourself, unreasonably so, you just are gonna… things are gonna start kind of falling apart. You know? Just something in your heart just… it can feel so sinking if you feel like you’re the only one who’s being rejected this much.
Yes. You know, when you first told me that story I actually passed it along to my stepson who’s, you know, 22 and getting out there and going on auditions and doing all of it. And I just love that so much and I think it’s so applicable across many creative industries. People will often say, you know, “Marie, you know, how long did it take when you were starting MarieTV?” I’m like, well, first of all, I was doing email broadcasts, like, way back in, like, the year 2000 and MarieTV has only been around, you know, for a couple years. But for the first couple it was like there wasn’t that many… and there’s still not that many views, but it’s just… it takes time and it takes consistency.
But when you’re creating something from nothing, it does have to be about the work. Which, you know, let’s shift over to something I was going to ask you later but we can go here now. The power of day jobs. One of the questions we get so often is folks can feel like they’re giving up on their dreams or their creative aspirations or their kind of stature as an artist if they have a day job. And I just think it’s completely the opposite, so I was curious to hear your point of view.
Totally the opposite. I mean, it’s… again, from my grandparents, I mean, they were really inspiring to me and they always supplemented their income and they didn’t own a credit card until they were 50. And it was… I always saw examples of folks who were artists and fulfilled artists and enthusiastic artists who were making their living predominantly doing other work, you know. My grandmother was a seamstress, she worked in education. It’s something… I think it’s something to be proud of when you are choosing to keep a job in order to provide for yourself and to provide for your family, and to create a strong financial foundation that you’ll be able to stand on for the rest of your life. That is so powerful, strategically so smart, and dignified. And I do, I think there’s this gross misconception of, yes, this idea that you were talking about that people feel like they’re giving up on their dreams.
Yes, or they’re not a real artist or they don’t… and it’s like no, no. That makes you such a smart artist. And perhaps for some of us there’s a day that comes perhaps that your art can provide for you, but none of us ever know what’s going to happen. And as you know in your business and I know in ours and in almost every industry, there are seasons.
You know, things go up and down. And I love that, I feel like that message needs to get out there. There’s no shame in hard work and dignified work, whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your family and be able to fund your art as well.
Yes. Yeah, it’s only gonna empower you. You know, financial stability will provide you the opportunity to be dedicated to your work. And none of us do art, like, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like, it’s not… that’s actually, that’s unrealistic. And so there’s also this other notion that it will take up time or whatever and it’s… it’s just, even if it takes up some of the time, financial planning is career planning. Like, that’s what it is. You’re just committed to creating a base for yourself so that you can leverage your career. And, I mean, for myself, I worked all through high school because my parents, wonderfully they took care of college, which is huge. Because student loans are…
Out of control.
But I did need to support my, you know, I needed to figure out my apartment situation and food and, like, all of that and living expenses. And then the moment I left school, you know, like done. And so I knew this, I knew that there was no trust fund on the horizon or anything and… and so when I was 14 I started working as a waitress. I had to get a permission slip from my parents because I was underage. And then I worked in a factory as… that was an allergy control product center and I was on the assembly line putting swatches of fabric in these pamphlets. I actually loved that job because I always got to watch movies and so it was like… totally immersed in these wonderful films. And then all through college I was a nanny part time to the same family, I was… I worked as an assistant teacher at a daycare for several years in the East Village, I was a dog walker, I worked as a dresser for a gay cabaret show downtown that my roommate at the time was the stage manager for and so she got me that job. And I really, I did that all throughout college. They were flexible jobs, I was really lucky. That’s why I wanted to have so many. And I left school with not an enormous financial foundation, but a substantial amount of kind of emergency savings.
Basically. And so I decided to keep those jobs. And, I mean, I was acting on Broadway and, you know, calling the parents of the kids I was watching and saying, “Ok, so,” during intermission. “Ok, so, yeah. Tomorrow I can come at 9:00, that’s great.” And then coordinating with the dog walking, you know, my dog walking clients and all of that. And it’s… and it also, it just… it took away so much of the fear and so, so much fear happens around the pressure of supporting yourself. And when you take that out of the equation and… and, again, it’s like difficult for me to say this even because I’m someone who comes from a certain amount of privilege and it’s… I’m always kind of hesitant to share this because people are, “Oh, you always had a safety net,” and all that kind of stuff. And listen, that is true. I mean, my mom made us believe that there was no safety net, but God forbid, we had that. And that’s huge. But that didn’t… that didn’t mean that I wasn’t entirely responsible for taking care of myself. And I’m just… it freed me. It absolutely freed me. I did all this crazy experimental theater, all this work that folks were like “you might not get hired again from doing that,” and I was sort of… there was a… I felt a lightness. Because I was like I’m not going to starve tomorrow. I’m not gonna be homeless next week.
Because you were working your buns off and you were doing what you had to do.
Let’s fast forward because there’s something else that you’ve experienced that countless if not millions of women experience after you had your baby, Theo.
You went through a really difficult time with postpartum. And there’s an article on Goop that you wrote that I thought was just gorgeous. And what you shared, you said, “Postpartum is hard to describe. The way the body and mind and spirit fracture and crumble in the wake of what most believe should be a celebratory time,” and that people often choose silence because it’s so hard to share how we really feel. Why was it so important for you to talk about that experience so publicly?
Well, it’s interesting because I wasn’t prepared to talk about it and… and Gwyneth Paltrow was just starting Goop and we knew each other through mutual friends and I had been reading everything that she’s been putting up and I have a lot of respect for her. And she reached out to me and said… and she knew that I had gone through postpartum, you know, because we’re in the same group. And… somewhat. It’s weird for me to say that. Like, we have, like, we share like…
Yeah, we have mutual friends. But she had gone through that as well and she asked if I would share it for, you know, for Goop. And I said, “Of course, yes. I will,” and then I kind of sat down to start writing it and I was like, “Oh, this is really intense.” Like, at that point I hadn’t been in therapy, I just hadn’t been kind of addressing it because it was just so heartbreaking to me. It was so devastating that the thing that I was looking forward to most in my life ended up being this very complicated, just really depressing situation where I loved my child with all of my heart and yet when I was in a room with him I just wanted to disappear. And it’s a weird… like, that’s such a weird concept. It’s so strange. And so it was very difficult for me to write about it and I’m really, really so glad that I did because it was able… like, I was able to kind of process some of those feelings and through just various drafts of it I was like, “Oh, yeah. This is what I was feeling. This is what was troubling me.” And it was kind of this… just that process of getting it down led me to insights that helped kind of get me out of it. It’s so hard because it’s… you can even equate it to business stuff as well because it’s like you… when you achieve things that you’ve dreamed of your whole life but you’re going through a difficult time or you’re going through a health crisis or you… or whatever it is that’s kind of under… that undermines that experience, it can flatten you. It flattened me for sure. Because I was also… I was also a pretty young mom and I had sort of a black and white view of things. And to feel like I was just completely failing at the most important thing that I’d ever done like 15 minutes after giving birth, because I felt it immediately. Like, instantaneously. It was really… it was very, very difficult to navigate that. And it’s something also that I don’t know if this is the right thing to say, but it’s like I never fully healed from it and that’s also a thing that is difficult to admit to. I remember one of my dear friends, his wife passed away very suddenly and she was in her early forties. And when I went to the funeral, he was wearing the same… they were Jewish. And according to the traditions, he was wearing the same clothes that he was in when she died. And with his rabbi, they had ripped the clothes. So he was there at the funeral in ripped clothes. And the rabbi explained that the symbolism behind that is that there are things in life where you get ripped apart and your soul gets ripped apart and it cannot come together, but you can mend it. You can see it in a different way, you can move through that experience with grace. But it’s still going to always be like that. And so that was the hardest part was kind of I was someone who always felt like I could kind of overcome things and move on from them and this is just, I mean, it’s something that still comes up, just the grief. The grief around it. But that’s… that’s the stuff of life. That’s what happens.
It is. It is what happens and that’s why I was so… I just… I felt such a connection with you. Even though I’m not a mom in the traditional sense, I was so happy and I always get so happy to hear women tell their stories and their most vulnerable stories because it’s so important. And I think in our culture that places such an emphasis on celebrity and social media and the glossiness of things where things, you know, can just look so perfect. And, you know, we’ll have that with our show too. And I’m like, dude, you see me on the street, or like the day you and I had lunch, it’s like we have our hair up in buns, there’s no glam squad, there’s no makeup. And the underbelly of life that I don’t feel like we get to share about and talk about enough. So thank you on behalf of millions of women…
My goodness, thank you.
…for being willing to say that and to share it.
And it’s also, it’s… I fall victim to that too where I’m… I remember, like, I just assumed I was gonna lose all the weight really, really quickly. Because I’m like, “I’m young and this actress did it and that actress did it.” And just feeling so disappointed comparing myself to folks who seemed to, you know, just breeze through it. And the reality is is they’re not breezing through it. Who breezes through that?
Like, it’s like… my best friend actually, today, she just had a child and she’s my goddaughter, and she has so much experience with children. She practically, like… she’s the godmother of my kids, practically could raise them. And she said today she was like it is so traumatizing having a child or, you know, whatever that’s a metaphor for. Like, having something completely new instantaneously that just turns your world upside down. It feels traumatizing. And so yeah, that is why it is so important to to just, yeah, to even though it’s really hard to not think that others have it easier and be disappointed that you don’t have it as easy.
Or that it’s not as smooth. You know?
Yes. So let’s shift gears a little. Let’s talk about B-School.
Why did you decide to do it? What were you going through at the time? What led you to B-School?
Ok, so I… for the last several years, I’ve been kind of navigating this sort of dual life, which is that I had a 4 year break between The Help and Jurassic. And I didn’t mean for it to be a 4 year break. I didn’t want for it to be a 4 year break. I had my daughters, I knew I was gonna be taking a break from acting during the pregnancy and for a maternity leave. But I came back from my maternity leave and I’m like, “I’m back,” and it was very challenging to get my foot back in the door. And so as I was, you know, again, count starting at one with the auditions. As I was going through that process, I got an opportunity to… I had directed before, but I got an opportunity to direct a film that was just… it was wonderful. And I did it with my writing partner at the time, who’s my sister’s husband, I set them up. Like, so it was a really wonderful experience that I wanted to do. And that film ended up getting shortlisted for an Oscar. And so I was like, “Oh, I’m a director… I guess.” And so then I started doing a lot more directing and getting hired as a director for a lot of stuff with new media and branded content and overseeing campaigns and documentaries and… and it was just this really enriching time in my life where, you know, I was lactating and needed to be at home a lot, but I could also go for these short stints and immerse myself in these creative ventures that were really rewarding and financially stabilizing. I, during that 4 year period, I lost my SAG insurance because I wasn’t working enough to be insured. And my DGA insurance kicked in at just the right time. And so where I… when I got Jurassic, which really was kind of one of those, like, out of the blue situations, I was like, “Oh, I’m acting again.” And it was shortly after that that I learned about B-School and I was just like having all… I didn’t do any social media and I was not really open about all the directing stuff and I don’t know why. And I was like, “I need to think about myself as a business.” I’ve been very kind of just instinctual and impulse driven and, you know, very connected to my own interests, but there wasn’t really a game plan. Like, when I’d be asked who’s, you know, what’s the career you aspire to have I would just be like, “I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that.” And so I realized it was because there were more layers to my career that were suddenly… and opportunities that were opening up, I wanted to go through some kind of an education process so that I could kind of figure out what I was hoping to create and how I could be of service and, you know, what… basically what my strategy was. And at the time I was working with this incredible woman named Isabel Foxenduke and she’s an educator and she’s an intuitive eating coach. And I was going through her program online and there was an opportunity… she sent out a newsletter for B-School at some point and there was opportunity to have, like, one on one interaction with her with B-School and I was like, “This is what I need.” And so I signed up on the spot and Isabel and I started talking. And I had so… I remember what kind of convinced me fully to do B-School was that her business was so strong. She had this great way of scheduling appointments, her website was so clear, her content that she was putting out was groundbreaking. And it was just… the coaching calls that she would do. Like, the way in which her business was run was impeccable. And so I was like I just… I respect this woman not just for what she’s teaching and what she stands for. I respect her because of the way that she’s handling herself, the way that she’s running her business. And so, yes, I got this chance to work with her and then B-School started and then it was like I was hooked. Like, it was like the eyes glazed over and I was like, “Anything you say.” And it was an extraordinary experience and just… it’s just everything like kind of like what your mom said. I mean, it’s just… it’s filled with all this common sense, all this kinda stuff that’s sort of like duh but you’d never thought of it before. And things would be presented typically in really confusing ways when you’re trying to get to the source of like, you know, what your brand is or what, you know, your business model should be or how to start a small business. And it would always be so confusing and then just the way that you laid it out was… was also fun. It was, like, the most perfect blueprint for launching a career that is completely unique. And it was just, yeah, it was incredible and I just got totally obsessed with all your videos and was just sending them to everybody. And it was really invaluable and what came out of B-School was a process of approaching my business. You know, not a kind of a result that’s like I did this, this, this, and this, although things have definitely improved in my life since I went through B-School significantly, but it’s also… it’s like, yeah, it’s a process as opportunities come up, as, you know, I have instincts for directions to move in that is… that really gives you the tools you need to create what you’re here to do, essentially. So thank you for that.
It was the best. And I love also that you can have ongoing membership, so I always… I log in all the time. I’m like, “What’s happening this week?” And it’s always… it’s just always… it’s the thing that I start my day going like, “Of course,” and it just shifts everything for me.
Well, I love that and I love that because we just have such a diverse community of members. You know, there are people that have jewelry businesses, woodworking businesses, artists of every kind, people that are doing accounting, and it’s just… it’s a really… it’s a lovely thing and we’re so honored to have you in B-School. So thanks for sharing about that.
Thank you. And it’s great too because I always feel like I wanna go back to school but realistically with 2 kids and a dual working household and kind of the nature of my work where, you know, tomorrow I might be called to go to, you know, I don’t know, some random place 10 thousand miles away. It’s… it was incredible because I was able to… I actually did the majority of B-School while I was working in New Zealand. And it’s… yeah, I’m just so thankful for it because sometimes in these, you know, these institutions of formal education it’s really it’s like you need to pause your life in order to do it and that, like, B-School is the perfect complement to one’s day to day life. You know, one’s busy life, one’s life that… where they have a lot of commitments. And so that was… yeah. That was huge.
Love that you’re a B-School alum. So one thing that you’ve said that we all love on the team is, “My feeling with movies or any kind of entertainment is that the goal is to be unignorable.”
Which is wonderful because it can bring a lot of attention, but, of course, that can also bring a lot of judgment, a lot of criticism, a lot of harsh stuff. What would you say to folks, because so many of our people in our audience, they want to create things. What do you have to share about making great work and taking that big risk?
Well, I actually, I learned that from this extraordinary stage director, a man named Ruben Polento. And he has a theatre company called Theatre Me Too and I met him when I was at NYU and did a lot of very avant-garde naked theatre shows with him. And then I was a member of his company afterwards. And he would always say that. He would always say that the goal of an artist is to be unignorable. Like, the worst thing that could happen is not bad reviews or a show closing. The worst thing that could happen is that people in the audience are talking about what they’re going to have for dinner and then the show happens and then it ends and then they turn to each other and they say, “You know? Where I really wanna go to dinner…” I mean, that is the worst thing that could happen because it’s basically it’s… yeah. Then you’ve been ignored. Your work has been ignored and you’re basically…
There’s indifference, which is the worst. Which is the worst. And so he would always say that. He would always say just focus on doing work that is unignorable. And I used that as, just that mantra, to guide me through all of my early decisions in my work. And I would get offered projects that I would actually think to myself, “This is pretty ignorable. Like, this doesn’t need to happen even.” You know? And if people are watching it they might even say like, “Those two hours, I don’t know if I got my money’s worth.” And so I did a lot of things that were kinda… kinda risky and yet I knew that they were projects that could not be ignored. I mean, the thing that comes to mind is my second film, which is this movie called Manderlay that Lars Von Trier, a Danish filmmaker, wrote and directed. And it was really controversial, unbelievably controversial, and weird and kinda like what am I watching here? But I knew it was something that was unignorable and I was really proud of that. And… yes, reviews… all the time reviews come out and basically when I’m reading reviews, which I don’t actually do that much not because I’m like, “I just can’t read reviews,” it’s just I’m sort of like, well, they’re doing their job, I did my job.
If there’s some great feedback or something, I definitely want to read that. You know, great not being like, you know, great, but like…
That’s useful. Absolutely.
Then wonderful. But I don’t really… I don’t know. I don’t put too much stock. It’s sort of none of my business a little bit.
And… but, like, again, earlier in my career I remember when there would be a terrible review or whatever, I would say, “Well, at least they’re passionate about this. At least they have a point of view.” Because you could feel that. Like, the reviews that are bad are usually angry. The reviews that are bad because something is, like, ignorable are just sad. You know? It’s just… it’s kinda sad. And so… so yes. That has been… that’s sort of my litmus test for most things in my life, to do work that is unignorable.
I love it.
Rather than successful.
It’s good. Before we wrap up and find out what we can see you in next, the one last thing that we adore about you is your self effacing sense of humor, because we have that about ourselves as well. I think recently, right, you posted something. What is it? Celebrity…?
Celebs like me.
Celebs like me.
Said you were, like, an 85% match that you look like yourself.
Yes. And it was like a 3am situation where I was just online…
Subjecting myself to click bait. And I found this and I was… I’m not actually that technically savvy on the computer, like downloading things and uploading things. And I’m always just like, “Ugh!” I actually blame it on my learning disabilities with my husband. He’s like, “Why won’t you just learn to turn on the television? You don’t know how to turn on the television.” And I’m just like, “I just… I just… I have a processing deficiency, babe.” Another way that that can be an advantage. But I… yeah, so I was like online and I got so… I so badly wanted to see who I looked like that I did really complicated things to upload my image. I was very proud of myself and then, yeah, I was 85% and it was basically split between Christina Hendricks, Jessica Chastain, and Swoosie Kurtz. And Swoosie Kurtz is one of my favorite character actresses and so I was like this is awesome.
This is so cool.
And I love how you and Jessica have had so much fun from people mistaking you for one another.
Yes. I mean, listen, this is also… this has been kind of a routine of ours for over a decade. Because we met each other for the first time on The Help, but before that she was going to school… we went to school at the same time. She was at Julliard, I was at NYU, and constantly people would say to me, “Oh, I just… I just saw this awesome chick in this show at Juilliard and, like, you’re her doppelganger.” Or I’d walk into a restaurant and then someone would yell out, “Jess!” and I would, like… at a certain point I got used to it. I was like, “Oh, they’re talking about this woman who, you know, who I look like.” And she… when we met on The Help the first thing we did was we were like, “Hi, nice to meet you. Let’s find a mirror.” Because apparently the same thing had happened to her. She’s like, “My whole… my whole adulthood has just been like, ‘You look like this girl named Bryce.’” And so that had been an ongoing joke for a very long time. And we looked in the mirror and we both have cleft chins, we have the same shaped eyes, and similar mouths, and similar noses, and obviously our skin tone stuff is a certain way. And hilariously, her birth name, her birth last name, is Howard.
I know! I know.
And I was like if my parents hadn’t been together since they were 16, I would be questioning a lot right now. But we have… yeah, it’s both… it’s really… it’s fun but it’s also really useful as well because I get a lot of scripts sent to me that Jessica has passed on and I’m just like, “Yes. Give it to me. You need a Jessica Chastain type. Like, I’ve been accused of that.” And that, I think… I think being, you know, we all want to be unique. We all want to kind of have this, like, singular voice of course. But the truth is is that being similar to someone else is actually a really helpful thing because especially if that other person is more well known it can help when you’re talking about your business, you’re talking about your work. You can contextualize things, you can say, “It’s a little bit like this. It’s a little bit like that.” And my grandfather one day went in for an audition for a character that was described as a Rance Howard type. My grandfather’s name is Rance Howard. And so he walked in and he’s like, “I got a Rance Howard type right here.” He didn’t actually get the job. But it’s once, yeah, once you, I don’t know, just… yeah. It’s a good thing. I think it’s a good… it’s a very, very good thing, especially her.
To be… and, of course, she’s amazing, you’re amazing, but to be able to be playful with it, I think, is just, it’s awesome. It’s the only way to be.
So where can we catch you? What are some projects that are coming up?
Well, I did a movie in New Zealand when I was starting B-School called Pete’s Dragon and that just came out. And I am so, so, so proud of it. It’s a Disney film and it’s innocent and it reminds me of the movies that I loved when I was a child. And it’s something I’m just I’m really proud to share with my own children. And so yes, so that is out. And then pretty soon a film called Gold is gonna come out opposite Matthew McConaughey, and I loved doing that movie. That movie was a last minute thing, actually. I think I got hired, like, 2 days before shooting started. So, yeah, I can be… things can just happen like that. And then another project that’s going to be coming out soon is there’s this show Black Mirror.
One of my favorites.
Yes, so good.
I love Black Mirror.
So good. So… so I did an episode that I was in, it was shot in South Africa, and with one of my favorite filmmakers, this wonderful man named Joe Wright who did Pride and Prejudice and Atonement and he’s just marvelous. And so yeah, that should be coming out soon as well.
Yay! Well, thank you so… thank you for being such a devoted fan.
Oh my gosh, always. Trust me, I’ll always be there.
And just for the beautiful work that you’re doing in the world and the way that you share yourself. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you, Marie. Thank you so much. This is just awesome being here and it’s very meaningful, so thank you.
Now Bryce and I would love to hear from you. From all of the juicy stuff that we talked about, what’s the single biggest insight that you’re taking away from today’s conversation? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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M. Night Shyamalan. M. Night Shyamalan.
M. Night Shyamalan.
M. Night Shyamalan.