Janet Rodriguez is an actress inspired by the beauty of humanity. It is her prerogative to allow her artistry to become as wide, and as specific of a representation of our collective human emotions, experiences, and complexities. Through every acting course, supporting role, and project she has worked on and will work on, she strives to become more herself while embodying "others" who at first glance feel different from her.
DAY ONE ADVICE:
Welcome to ECT, Fearless Artist!
We have a unique approach to acting here, and you were selected because of your unique talent and superpowers. Trust me, you will “catch on” to what that is as you witness it in your fellow artists, whom you will grow to trust, appreciate, and create meaningful relationships with and experience it within yourself. The tools will help you grow, and they will help you discover parts of you that are so ready to come out. Breathe easy, and trust.
As with everything in life, we have reflections, insights, and ideas about how we could have done something differently for a more concentrated and “better” outcome. I will simplify a list of 5 tips to help you make the best of your ECT Conservatory Journey:
I found that my perception of my social life and personal connections was way off. I wish I had mentally and emotionally prepared myself and others before embarking on this journey. Some things you cannot avoid or prevent from happening (because that’s life), but my experience was that I felt an overwhelming amount of responsibility for others, and guilt when confronted with the choice of choosing between myself/my craft first and being available to them. It was my dominant anxiety going into the program, and I felt that I would lose parts of myself. Ironically, I became more me and relationships adapted and improved. I shared the feelings I was having with KEY people in my life halfway through the program, and they were so understanding and supportive! The whole time it was just my projection and fear! If you struggle with this, have those conversations early on. It will feel you of much unnecessary guilt, and hesitancy.
I doubted my knowings a lot - this won’t be new to you, but when I did challenge myself and spoke up or asked questions, I found that not only did I know what I was talking about, but that I was able to properly articulate and communicate my need. Again, you may not struggle with this, but if you do, speak up early on. And perhaps it’s not speaking up in the group so much, but seek 1:1 with Aaron in the beginning and that will warm you up to feel more empowered to speak in the group. It did for me when I would open up, and I wish I had done more of that instead of hide behind my challenges, shame and guilt.
I was reflecting on my disconnection from the space, and why I wouldn’t arrive 30 minutes before class, etc. I realized that I didn’t feel worthy of being there. I would get to class 5 minutes before and leave soon after. It was my social anxiety, lack of self confidence, etc. that was keeping me from it, but I had BIGGER challenges that masked this one. It didn’t become clear to me until the last week. And it’s one thing I deeply regret because the times I did stay longer or arrived earlier helped me feel more connected. I monitored for auditions the second to last day, and wish I could stay longer. ECT will feel like home *if you let it*.
You are here because you are learning, so there are many things you don’t know. Free yourself of the need to know or the need to get it right. The mere fact that you are a student in the program implies that you are there to learn so it’s OK if you don’t get it “right”. Most of this is new, and you can’t fully trust it until you experience it. So just dive in and give it a shot. You will grow hugely through the experience of living through the questions, the activity, and the opportunity to make your unknowns clear, and this will ignite a fire in you to dive deeper, lean in closer, and scratch at the unknown.
I stayed in my head too much and it took me some time to reprogram myself from my high-performing people-pleasing habits in academia and corporate which were rooted in “doing the right thing” and being the perfect student/employee. I found myself rebelling, and challenging expectations and what “authority” wanted from me. It was all in my subconscious, so I didn’t fully own it. I was like an observer and I would witness myself actively *not* wanting to do the assignments. This whole other side of me was coming out, and I didn’t label it as lazy because I have impeccable work ethic, but for the first time, I wasn’t doing the work, hitting the marks, or “on top of my stuff”. At first, it made me incredibly insecure, but the healing and transformation that happened for me (and could have happened a lot earlier if I gave myself FULL permission to be a “rebel”) is that I broke away from the need to be “responsible” for the sake of pleasing others, and awakened within me my OWN MOTIVATION, and my own source of inspiration. I never liked the feeling of needing to respond to someone or relying on someone for feedback and approval, and by being this rebel for the time that I was, I was able to see my Artistic Director, Aaron, for who he really was: a friend, a teammate, and one who was IN IT for me, my potential, and was an ally on my artistic journey. I never cared for compliments or to please, so it’s incredibly freeing to receive a compliment that you know is not lip service or coming from a place of “wanting to incentivize you to keep doing this for me” but rather, “I see who you are, and I encourage you to go there for YOU”. I didn’t fully give myself permission to be a rebel (way too much guilt), but had I gifted myself a concentrated time of “not trying to please the other” and just doing things my way, realizing I was enough just for being me, etc. I would have gotten over that phase quicker, and being more free to eat up, swim in, and dive into the tools and the community. Aaron told me “you being here is enough” and that helped set the stage for that rebel permission. I am glad that it cleared because now I KNOW what the tools did for me, can do for me, and what’s on the other side of my false programming.
You’re awesome. Know that, feel that, and live from that place. Open yourself up, you are HOME with other artists, mentors, and a family that will nurture you, support you and love you for who you truly are!
Tell us about a transformative educational experience.
I realized I couldn't fake the funk when I was doing scene work for a belly dancer. My acting coach did not think I showed up as sexy / sensual as my character called for. When he publicly noted that "I could not be sexy unless I knew it in my mind that I was sexy", I realized I had to resolve whatever was getting in the way of my being that. This further demonstrated to me that everything I seek and want to become is within me, even if it is hidden, it is available.
What about transformative professional experiences?
I have always gone "by the book". I dotted my i's and crossed my t's. I was headed to business school (thinking that was the way to grow in my professional career) when I had the great fortune to work for and be mentored by a serial entrepreneur. I went from being a Director of Marketing to being a VP of Strategy from my own creation, learning, and development. I learned that the school of hard knocks is the best teacher, and that no certification, degree, or stamp can replace LIFE experience. Living, fully living, can transform all areas of our lives.
Why I do what I do...
I seek alignment in action, deed, and word. It is the most challenging aspect of my humanity - to be "aligned" in my every day life, in the work that I do, and in how I express myself in relationship, etc., but when it comes to acting, and engaging my self to re-create life, that is when I feel most aligned (even if it doesn't appear to those witnessing my work). It is the most effortless alignment. I want to experience that in my every day life.
What about ECT inspires you?
Honestly, for me, what inspires me most about ECT is as simple and as complicated as "being fearless". I have very little memories of my bold fearless young girl days. They are mostly a blur. I have more memories and experiences of myself giving into my fear, and limiting my human experience. ECT inspires me to step into my bold authentic truth. I want to live fearlessly and do what I came here to do.
Where have you traveled? Where would you like to visit?
I have traveled to most major U.S. cities and other remote U.S. locations, many cities in Italy, international: London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Madrid and Guadalajara. I would love to visit Greece, France and Portugal.
My favorite "day-off" event would be...
It's a 50-50 shot between solo or group activities. 1) Meditation out in nature, followed by a hike, some reading, journaling and a hot cup of tea OR 2) dancing, painting, singing, and just diving into all of my lively senses in community.
If I had one million dollars I would...
Travel (and bring some family along), secure my housing, and invest funds in developing a residential-based college program for first generation students.
Did you know...
I am the 4th oldest of eight children.
I am still fighting my obnoxious nail biting habit from 6th grade.
The silliest thing kept me from theater / acting my whole life: Not being able to find the slit of the drapes in 4th grade during my first and only theatrical production.