One of the first experiences I had on set was in a little independent film called A Month of Sundays. It wasn’t so little for me since it was my first starring role in a feature film. Even bigger in my mind was who was cast as my co-star–or rather, I was cast as his–Rod Steiger. What a mammoth, a chameleon, a master, and an absolute gentleman. To say that Rod set the bar for me on how generous you should be to your fellow actor, is an understatement. To have been able to act opposite such a behemoth of an actor was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t cherish those days on set with him or bring that experience with me from project to project.
I’ll never forget the day when Rod said to me, “Create your opportunity. Don’t just be an actor who waits around for your manager or agent to get you cast in something else. That was my mistake.” I looked at him, completely taken off guard by the comment. Here was an Academy Award Winner whose legendary scenes such as the famous “Taxi Cab” scene with Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront is shown in almost every master acting class known to man, here was a legend who had won the Oscar for his tornado of a performance in In The Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier, and here was a man whose silent scream in The Pawnbroker gives me chills to this day. So I asked him, “What do you mean?”
“It was after I had won the Oscar,” he said. “I thought, ‘Opportunities will hunt me down now.’ But four years went by and not a single one came. That was my mistake. I waited. And because nothing came, I got depressed. And there’s nothing worse than an artist who gets depressed. You’re young. Create your opportunity. Find stories for yourself and don’t wait for others to find them for you.”
Those words have motivated me and inspired me ever since. As projects come my way, I am creating my opportunity outside of them. I’m not the best at networking, as a matter of fact, I despise it sometimes. But I have, thankfully, found a means of connecting and networking in a manner that I can tolerate, and have come to realize that the best moments only come when I find other creators doing the very same thing. Writing screenplays, turning those screenplays into books, finding music that inspires the circumstances and art that takes my breath away and captures those moments I seek to write and embody…how can one not dream of creating an opportunity? We live in a world of “do-it-yourself-ism.” As an actor, why wait? As a writer, why not dream? As a musician, why not perform? And as an artist, why not wield your brush for all to see? For those of you who make the idea a reality, it is you who continue to inspire me.
Create your opportunity...I know I am creating mine. Here’s to you, Rod…
-Written by: #CorinaMarie
(Corina Marie Zurcher is an actress, producer and screenwriter.)
Me and Rod at the Los Angeles Film Festival
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