Ivana Chubbuck is an acting coach based in the US. She is also the founder of Ivana Chubbuck Studio in Los Angeles, and the author of The Power of the Actor. She has coached world class actors, including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, and Terry Farrell. (Here is the celebrity quotes about her) One of the most inspiring women in the world.
-----For those who are not familiar with you, please let us know more about you. How did you get interested in the world of acting? Did you have a specific reason or did it happen naturally?
I had a harsh and abusive childhood, both emotionally and physically. Because of this, I assumed, if my own parents can’t love me, why should anyone else. Thusly, growing up, I didn’t have friends.I anticipated that everyone didn’t like me before they even had a chance to form an opinion. I simply didn’t speak to anyone, thinking that they wouldn’t want to speak to me. My initial form of communication with my childhood peers was through writing funny stories and poems. I would silently hand them out to anyone that would take it, and found that people really enjoyed reading what I wrote. They liked me, with a degree of separation. That is because they liked what I wrote, not me, because I never actually vocally communicated with anyone. At around 13, I found a neighborhood theater, of which I joined. Acting allowed me to put voice, both literally and figuratively, to my inside turmoil. With acting I could love and be loved, without getting hurt because I was separated by the stage. This was a perfect solution for me, as I was terrified of the pain I was forced to endure growing up. Acting gave me refuge and a raison d’etre.
-----You changed your career from an actor to an acting coach. How did you reach such a strong conviction that everything would be ok when you changed your career?
I found that many of my co-stars, when I was working on a film or tv show, would come to me for advice on script analysis. They would continue to come to me, because they did their best work when they did. I also found that when I was working as an actor, I would look at my watch constantly. However, when I was coaching and teaching, the time flew by. Clearly my passion wasn’t being in front of an audience, but the nurturing, inspirational source behind the actors I work with. I derive much more pleasure when I see one of my students succeed, become internationally regarded, or awarded, then if it were to happen to me.
-----You are incredibly honest when you talk about yourself. Why you can be so open and why it is so important to you?
I expect my students to be rigorously honest with me. The darker, more scary, more revealing the information imparted to me, the better artist they will be. It takes great courage to be totally honest. The fear is, that if one truly reveals themselves, that people won’t like them, that they will be unfairly judged. That’s why people are so afraid of revealing their truths, pain, and trauma. But, truth, pain and trauma the artist’s box of colors. The deeper and more fear inspiring the truth is, the more dynamic the performance (whether it be from the point of view of the actor, director, or writer). The fact is, that it takes more courage to be truly honest, then it does to cross 10 buses with a motorcycle.It’s the fearlessness of baring the truth, that makes someone a true hero. Someone who dares to tell it like it is. It is this very fearlessness that make’s someone sexy, compelling, and special.
Why am I so honest? If I expect people to truly open up, I should do it myself. It also makes people feel safe to do the same. I am also brutally honest in my critiques. People learn more, hear more, listen better when you don’t mollycoddle.
-----What is the most important lesson you have ever gotten and what did you learn out of the experience?
My mother, though very abusive, a severe hoarder, and suffering from bipolar disorder, did possess a wonderful trait – she didn’t judge. She once said, when I was young, “Charlie Manson must have been very insecure to kill all those people.” (ya think?) Anyway, needless to say, she embodied the very definition of dichotomy. From her I got this: You can tell me anything, I mean anything, and I won’t judge.I will help you inform what you’ve told me into your work, purely -- without an opinion. Noel Coward once said, “a true artist never judges. ”I believe as well, that a more evolved human being doesn’t judge. It doesn’t benefit the judge or the judged.“ Judge not, lest ye be judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged. And, with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to ye again.” A real smart guy named Matthew said this. I believe judgement of others is an excuse not to look at your own flaws.
-----It seems that people are confused by the definition of success. What is your definition of your success?
Finding what you truly have a passion for, something that makes you want to work overtime, and huge amount of hours, because it feeds and nourishes your heart and soul. Most people don’t ever find this, because they have a preconceived idea of what they need and love to do. Be open to whatever comes your way.Often, it what you least suspect that is your passion. I thought acting was my destiny. But, it never gave me the satisfaction that teaching did. For a long time I fought this. But, when I finally gave in, quit acting, fully committed to being an educator, I was much more soulfully gratified.
-----People would ask you “how to succeed”. Is it truly important “how” to succeed or is there any other thing that people need to remember?
It’s important not to care if people “like” you, but it’s important that they respect you. People pleasers never win. Socially or career-wise. In fact, those that inspire respect, are charismatic and sought after. Think of it this way, you get a “twofer” – which is to say, if you get respect, they will probably like you too.
-----Some people say, “you cannot make a living by doing what you love to do”. Others say, “I do not know what I want to do with my life”. What would be your advice to them?
I believe everyone has a gift, something that makes them unique and special. It is up to the individual to figure out what that is. Usually, it is something you love to do, and it could be anything. One shouldn’t consider how the world sees if what you love is good enough, or unique enough, or prestigious enough – follow your heart. I’ve found in my journeys all over the world, that if someone loves something, and has a strong work ethic, and takes risks – without concern about making money, that money finds its way. I have a friend, who is in her late fifties. She’s been struggling to be a filmmaker for years. With little success. But, it wasn’t her passion, it was what she thought she should do, residing in Hollywood. But, just 3 months ago, she started painting. She was never trained, she had never actually picked up a paint brush before. But, when she started applying paint to the canvas she couldn’t stop. She loves it. Remember it’s only been 3 months? She’s already sold 2 paintings, for $1500 a piece. And, she has some painting already lined up for new homes. I could tell you many stories such as this.
Bottom line: it’s never too late to figure it out, it’s never too late to follow your dreams, and it’s never too late to succeed.
-----It is easy to be trapped in the experience in the past and mourn about it especially when you work extremely hard. How can you get out of this kind of mindset and start walking toward the future?
Whenever anything bad happens to me, I think, “what do I need to learn from this experience. What is the life lesson in this. How can I be a more evolved person, not in spite of this trauma, but of it.”
Often people don’t change and grow, unless they hit bottom. Forcing them to change or just sit in their misery. You can self-destruct with pain, or construct with pain. It’s a choice.
-----If you can leave one message to make the world a better place, what would be your message?
Rejection shouldn’t defeat you, but rather it should impassion and fuel your ability to overcome and win.