A Stand for Oneself in “No”, Sparked by Sophia Loren
Been thinking a lot lately about creativity and the uniqueness in each of us. Everyone has something unique, a perspective on the world that no one else has in exactly the same way. If we tap into that place, we hit our “vein of gold” and self expression becomes effortless and full. What started me on this train of thought, was a moment at the TCM (Turner Classic Movie) Film Festival. I mentioned a few blogs ago that I attended the festival (“TCM Film Festival, Carole Lombard, Finest Friend”). During the four day festival, I was lucky enough to attend a two and a half hour live interview with Sophia Loren (who is now 80) – interviewed by her son, Edoardo. Sophia has always been a favorite of mine. In fact, the only day in my life I ever cut school, was when I found out she was appearing at a department store in the mall to promote her perfume, “Sophia”. I still remember standing in line, finally walking up to her, saying “hello”, shaking her hand (which was the softest thing I’d ever felt – like a pillow), and getting an autograph. I was in heaven!
During the interview, her son asked fantastic questions about her childhood, her start in films, her costars, her body of work and more. She was articulate, warm, funny and very motherly – such a treat to watch!
Sophia Loren being interviewed by her son, Edoardo, at the TCM FIlm Festival
While she is a great actress no matter what she plays, I always thought, generally speaking, her performances in her Italian films were especially rich, detailed, and “fuller” than her performances in English. Her son asked her about working with director Vittorio De Sica, (whom she worked with frequently), who is the person that gave her her breakthrough role in the movie, “The Gold of Naples”. She said she never studied acting, but Vittorio was Neapolitan (from “Naples”, Italy), and he made Neapolitan stories with Neapolitan characters. She said she instinctively knew Neapolitan women – how they spoke, walked, talked, their mannerisms and so on. It came naturally to her (to the point where she was the first person to win an acting Academy Award for a non-English speaking role with her “Best Actress” Oscar for 1960’s “Two Women”).
That thought hit a nerve in me. It reminded me of Julia Cameron’s book, ‘The Vein of Gold”. In it, she mentions the director Martin Ritt and his “theory” about actors. He suggests there is a certain territory or range that actors were born to play which he calls their “vein of gold”. To quote him from Julia’s book, “Of course, you can always cast an actor outside his vein of gold. If you do, the actor can use craft and technique to give you a very fine, a very credible performance, but never a performance as brilliant as when he is working in his vein of gold”. It clicked when Sophia talked about playing Neapolitan women. Then I started thinking about other actors – all of whom have a “vein of gold” territory, and then singers who sound best when they sing a particular style of music. Or writers who excel at writing a particular way. Or doctors who have a certain “expertise” in one area. And I think that all of us have a “vein of gold” in us – some place we inherently inhabit and can bring to life in whatever we are doing. And the good news is that it is already there – inside us.
Part of the journey in the lives of those of us who search for “more” is to discover who we “really are” – to get past the filters, and the cobwebs of the past and try to get to the core of what makes us who we are. And I can see from Sophia’s comment, and from the “vein of gold” theory, that being true to ourselves brings us the most freedom and the most joy in life. It is a quest to uncover what’s already there.
In a world where the amount of fame, or “likes”, or online followers is how we are measured, it is easy to lose sight of what’s important and forget that we are so much more than what we do or accomplish. We each have gifts and qualities that can’t be measured, but only expressed and shared. And they are ten times more valuable to the quality of our lives than any amount of internet “likes”.
For those of you not familiar with Sophia Loren’s work (and those of you who are, too), I’ll leave you with a clip from one of my three favorite Sophia Loren films, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” – one of her many directed by Vittorio De Sica, and costarring her most frequent costar, Marcello Mastroianni. Here, she plays a high class prostitute, and Marcello wonderfully plays her regular client. She remembers at the end that she made a vow not to have sex for a week. The clip doesn’t have English subtitles, but even without knowing Italian you can see a great actress at work! And she is as sexy as one can possibly get in this clip, too! Enjoy!
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