Hello &

Hello &

Wentworth Earl Miller III

Wentworth Earl Miller III



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mailbag (6.2)


Q: how have you been lately, and i don't mean where were you and such... how have you really been ?

A: I'm well. Not necessarily "comfortable," but well. In a period of across-the-board change. Little is as it was a year ago. That's a good thing. And (it's a "both/and" not an "either/or") it's uncomfortable, requiring change, shift, risk, uncertainty... All things I instinctively want to avoid. I continue to discover that before stepping into newness, spaces where nothing is familiar and challenge guaranteed, it helps to set intentions. Otherwise I'm likely to react from an emotional, kneejerk place, making choices out of alignment with who I work to be.

Ex: I've recently taken several cross-country trips, and as anyone will tell you, eating right on the road isn't easy. Especially if, like me, you enjoy seeking out the mom-and-pops, the "local color" type places. Eating at greasy spoons means eating grease. Which I'm happy to do. With syrup. But on the road - as in life - filling your tank with the right fuel is key.

I've heard it's not uncommon for people to experience a kind of low-grade panic attack at the supermarket... Overwhelmed by all the choices, colors, and labels (each with a million ingredients), they'll start grabbing things at random, eventually leaving minus what they came for, plus a cart full of junk.

That's how I feel in greasy spoons. They're busy/noisy, the waitresses are hurried/harried, snapping at you in that rat-a-tat-tat... So I'll go unconscious and order the first thing I see on the menu, automatically reaching for the usual and (presumably) delicious. 10 minutes later someone is sliding something in front of me I don't need to be eating but will.

So I changed my (literal) approach. On the drive to breakfast I'd say, out loud, to myself, "This morning I'm going to order a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit, brown sugar on the side, and 2 hardboiled eggs." And that's what I'd get. That and raised eyebrows from waitresses. (I guess oatmeal isn't big in greasy spoons.) But I felt better about my choices, better when I walked out the door and hit the road. It's a small thing that felt significant. And made a difference. Having a plan. Making a resolution in line with my highest wants and needs before taking on the new and the unknown.

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Q: Do you think a homosexual person can fall in love with the opposite sex?

A: I believe it's possible. I believe many things are possible when it comes to love, that the majority of people exist in the grayscale, somewhere on the spectrum between "gay" and "straight." (I also believe "gay" and "straight" shouldn't be thought of as the bookends of the spectrum, but that's another conversation.) Then life - by which I mean family, culture, religion, education, Hollywood - encourages us to reject that, to abandon the grayscale and insist on looking at love/attraction/sexuality/gender through a black-and-white lens.

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Q: I'm amazed of the thousands of comments and likes you receive and more so that you take the time and have the patience/interest to answer them... and i've noticed that most if the questions are from women , are we more open to talk about sensitive things or more curious? Or both .

A: I judge men to be curious. I judge men to be very curious. I judge men's willingness to talk about sensitive things, in a public forum, like this one, to be a work in progress.

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Q: The day we leave this world, will we live the true life, the eternal life? What do you think?

A: I have no idea what happens "the day we leave this world." But while I'm here, living this (non-eternal) life, I'm going to practice self-expression, love the people I'm blessed to know, and smell as many roses as possible. #sassy #shameless #overthetop

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Q: I have always wondered if you, or any other actor, can enjoy a film or TV series like the rest of us who are not in the film and television industry, when you know so much about what goes on behind the scenes? Are you able to relax and enjoy the storyline(s) or do you find yourself analysing it; for example wondering how many takes it took to film a specific scene, comparing yourself to the other actors, critiquing another actor and so forth. Basically do movies and TV shows lose their ‘magic’ or appeal once you know all that goes into making them?

A: Have you seen "30 Days Of Night?" I remember watching that and thinking, "Oy. Must have been an exhausting shoot. Months of running around... in the snow... in the cold... at night. No thanks." I felt sorry for those actors. And (it's a "both/and" not an "either/or") I thoroughly enjoyed the result. So the answer to your question is "both." I can surrender to a TV show/movie, dig the story as a viewer, and also be aware of the mechanics of the thing, whirring and clicking below the surface. (The worse the story, the louder the whirs and clicks.) It's a dual awareness, not unlike shooting a scene. I'm "in the moment," digging for some kind of "truth," connecting with my scene partner, and I'm also conscious of where the camera is, whether I'm standing on my mark, blocking my co-star's light, etc. It's real and it's fake, it's art and it's science, it's organic and it's plastic. All at once.

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Q: Okay a question, no idea if it's been asked before: do you have a bucket list? And if so, whats the number one thing you absolutely want to do in this lifetime?

A: I don't resonate with the concept of a "bucket list." For me, because of how I'm built, there's a danger of it becoming a "to-do" list. Then a "must-do" list. And if I don't check everything off, I "haven't lived" or I did life "wrong" or whatever. (See: "Bullsh-t.")

From an early age I was conditioned to believe My Life Will Not Be Complete Without [Fill In The Blank]. That kind of thinking is self-defeating. A set-up for disappointment. Because life doesn't guarantee squat (obviously). Marriage, kids, a career you're passionate about that also pays the bills, a mind and body that function "normally," etc... Not everyone gets those things. (Not everyone wants those things.)

I refuse to accept that that's anything less than okay.

Sure - have goals. Make plans. Dream big. But I'm careful (or I try to be careful) not to let that tip over into Wishing Things (Or I) Were Otherwise. My want is to appreciate/value what I have while I have it. To think of the life I've got today - not tomorrow - as complete, fulfilling, worthwhile. And if down the road I'm lucky enough to stand in the shadow of the mo'ai or compete on "Project Runway," great. If not, that's okay too.

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Q: I'd like to ask about the incomprehension of the family and friends of a person whith depression. I noticed that people doesn't understand depression, and in general they julge whithout know anything about it. In your opinion, what a depression person can do in this situation?

A: When I gave my talk at Oxford, I was asked how to discuss mental health with family if you come from a background where it's not only taboo to ask for help, the very concept of mental health isn't discussed/taken seriously. One thing that's occurred to me since is this: We don't/can't always hear the people we're closest to. Your mom can tell you something 1,000 times and you're like, "Mm-hm." Then you hear it once from a stranger and you're like, "OMG! Brilliant!" (Cut to your mom rolling her eyes.)

If you're having trouble getting through to a friend/family member, recognize they may be unable to hear you because they love you/are afraid for you/struggle with the same thing, etc. Consider adding a new voice to the mix. Maybe that looks like introducing them to an expert in the field, a therapist or counselor... Bringing them to a support group where they can listen to other people discuss the subject openly... Sharing relevant videos on youtube... Putting them in touch with someone from their specific race/culture/profession who also struggles with mental health and can use language/references they understand... Keep growing the chorus, turning up the volume until that friend or family member "hears" you.

Even then it's possible they won't. But you'll know you did everything you could. Then it may be time for a more difficult conversation. Speaking for myself, I want people by my side who "get it" (or at least support it), who can ride shotgun and help me navigate life's highways. Not tin cans tied to my bumper, clanking noisily and uselessly behind me.

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Q: Any advice for a 10 yo child (and her mom) whose highly empathic and anxious nature combined with imbalance between intellect and social maturity is causing such social issues that she dreads every day of school despite her love of learning and makes her cry "why can't I just be like other kids?" She does have a therapist, the teachers are doing their best to help the situation, and she is very active in youth theatre where she has fewer social difficulties, but it's breaking this mom's heart seeing her wonderful spirit just get crushed every day.

A: I can't fully relate to your situation, but my heart goes out to you and your daughter.

This dovetails with my previous answer re: what we can/cannot hear from those we love, but it seems to me a parent can support their child, say all the right things at the right time, and it's still not enough. They may need to hear it from someone else.

At a certain point in my early years, peers trumped parents. What the other kids thought mattered most. That's just the way it was. You've got the therapist piece in place, teachers doing their part... I'd suggest continuing to supplement the number of outside sources encouraging your daughter, reinforcing her "okayness." Specifically (carefully-selected) kids, perhaps slightly older or young adult, who share her sensitivities/sensibilities, who can spend time with her, act as mentors/models, reassuring her by word and example that "Others have been where you are and made it/are making it through. What you think of as a curse today you'll recognize as a gift tomorrow." (Maybe you've got an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America local to you, for example.)

Also - when it's age-appropriate, with guidance - there may be online communities worth exploring that provide support/affirmation to kids who aren’t finding it at school.

A final idea, which you're probably doing already: Maximize the time your child spends doing the things she loves and in which she's flourishing (like youth theatre).

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Q: I'm just worry about my son, 17 yr old. I wonder if he is gay. Sometimes I really want to ask him directly. I don't want to break down our relationship. I love him so much. Can you give me some advise?

A: I don't know the first thing about your relationship with your son, how the two of you do/don't connect, what is/isn't your familial vibe. But - putting myself in your shoes - I would probably avoid direct questions. Your son might not be gay. Or he might not know what he is yet and direct questions could force him to share something before he's ready, or to make false statements, or interrupt his process of self-discovery.*

Instead, I'd go about creating the kind of environment a queer teen might feel comfortable stepping into. Find ways to signal my unconditional love. (Only you can know what that looks like. Only you can know what will feel warm and accepting vs. clumsy or triggering.)

I'd check out organizations like PFLAG National. Educate myself. Learn how other parents have handled this. I’d bring up queer issues/news in conversation and gauge his reaction, (gently) invite him to share his thoughts. (And be cool if he claims not to have any.) I’d add LGBTQ-centric shows/movies to our Netflix queue, have queer friends over for dinner, etc. Feather the nest with love and intention, so my child (if they are qay) feels safe. Reassured that if/when they do "come out," they'll be met with nothing more dramatic than a hug.

That said, a lot of teenagers struggle with their sexuality. If you feel like your child is in or approaching a crisis, a direct approach may be essential. Again, that doesn't have to look like an interrogation ("Are you gay!?!"). You can start by stating what's true for you, so he knows where you stand. "Whatever you do... whoever you are... I support you... If there's anything you want to tell me... today, tomorrow, or a year from now... I'm here for you... Know that... You're my child and I love you... I'm on your side... Period."

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* Everything written above is an opinion. It's my truth. (Not to be confused with The Truth.) My advice re: my advice is to pick it apart. Put it back together. Get a second opinion. Then a third. Take what serves. Leave the rest. Do what works for you.

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