Now as you know, I generally don’t read interviews, articles, reviews about my work, myself. Sometimes a friend or family member will send something and I might take a peek, but more often than not, I don’t.
I started this thirty years ago, when Big Chill came out and some reviewer called Chloe, an air-head, or a space cadet, or something of that ilk, and it hurt my/Chloe’s feelings. She is so much more than that! I thought. How could that person sit through that film and come away with that judgement on her? Yes, she doesn’t mouth the pat, expected platitudes. Yes, she walks to a different beat, but can’t you see how she’s hurting? Can’t you see how deeply she feels? How true she is? How she walks with integrity?
It hurt my heart. I decided not to read reviews anymore. And then that spread to interviews. Didn’t want to see my characters or myself through someone else’s lens.
I stick to this policy for the most part.
It’s served me well. I do the best work I can. Give everything to the character I am portraying, the book I am writing.
It used to be, when I met a member of the media, I was very cautious, guarded. Had so many secrets. Had a push-me-pull-you relationship with the whole being-in-the-public-eye. Was scared of being naked, vulnerable, found to be human. The interviews, the photo taking, made me feel hunted.
But now, in middle age, I have worked hard to let that go. Feel it’s important to be oneself. To not dissemble. To stand tall in one’s mistakes as well as one’s accomplishments. I try not to censor myself. Try not to present a rosy publicity package of the Meg Tilly franchise wrapped up nice and tidy with a pretty pink bow. I try to be me, to be the same person whether it is with a friend or a stranger.
And I’ve managed, for the most part, not to let myself get scared. To be open. To not have keep out signs posted all over our conversations, my heart, experiences. I try to listen to each question and answer it as honestly as I can, figuring if I, at all times, tell the truth, I don’t have to worry about keeping up an image, being something I’m not.
But now, I don’t know. Made the mistake of reading an article someone wrote about me. Shouldn’t have. Been a couple days since it came out and I have this ache in the pit of my stomach and bad dreams that wake me, leave me feeling sad, small, like the darkness is closing in. Feeling like I never want to do another interview ever again. Want to hide, tuck into my shell, return to my quiet invisible life.
But I can’t.
I think the thing that hurts the most, is that I really liked this woman. That’s why, when someone tweeted the article, I decided to read it. We were both middle-aged women in our 50’s with grown kids, laughing over wrinkly necks, changing bodies, desires. She was wearing this unique jacket that was like this funky piece of art. She was a writer, I was a writer. We talked about my book, A Taste Of Heaven, because that was why the interview had been set up. The writing process, the reasons for writing it, what I was trying to say. We talked about celebrity, because that is one of the themes of the book. We talked about Bomb Girls, Lorna, working on the set.
And it was fun. Sipping on peppermint tea with a little bit of honey. Tucked in a warm booth at a retro diner in a hipster hotel. It had taken an effort to get there, emotionally, physically. I was on the tail end of a long cold, had been crazy busy with the whole Bomb Girls press, CSA stuff, as well as A Taste of Heaven. There was snow and thick black ice on the roads and all I had wanted to do was nestle into bed and sleep for a month. But there I was, and I was glad I was there.
We talked and we talked and we laughed and we talked some more. The interview portion, long over and still we sat there, talking. She felt like a friend. Her sharing her life, me sharing mine. And when I left, I thought, maybe we’ll be friends, wouldn’t that be nice? I wasn’t sure how it would happen, maybe another writer friend would have a party and we would bump into each other, outside of work, exchange emails, go for lunch or walks or something. And I felt lucky because I never would have gone out on that frigid cold day. Never would have entered that hotel, sat in that diner, met that interesting woman. Never would have even known they existed. And this is where I thought I have a lucky, lucky life.
So when her article came up, I broke from my normal way of doing things and I read it. I read it because I was hoping to capture a bit of how special that day had felt.
I started to read, and shock set in. This was an intelligent woman with warm eyes, this woman had a comfortable laugh, a comfortable body. We were both middle aged women who had gone through a lot. How could she have written this? An article that barely mentioned the book, which was the whole reason we met. Nothing about the writing process, the reasons why. The title. That’s it. There was a brief reference, a sentence, I think, about Bomb Girls.
So, what did she write about? What did she see when she sat across the table from me? What did she come away with?
I was shocked. I felt violated. I felt like my internal monitor must be so far off base. How could I have thought we were having one kind of experience, when she was so clearly having another? How could I have been so wrong?
And I don’t know why I’ve allowed this incident, this woman to affect me so much. I have friends. Real friends. Good ones.
So what, who cares what she wrote? That karma that will come back to her. Or maybe it won’t. What do I care?
But I do.
How must it feel? I tell myself. To be her. To do that kind of thing? What is the cost? You should feel compassion for her. What kind of life is that?
But still, I feel bad. And I’m not sure how to feel better. How to let it go. Am hoping in writing about it, it will disinfect it, let the hurt seep out, so I don’t carry my disappointment in her, in my own misjudgment, around for another day.
Do know that I don’t feel like doing another interview ever again. Do know that I’ve been wondering if it’s worth it. I love acting, creating, writing, but is one possible without the other? One can’t just act in a show, or write a book and refuse to do media for it. It wouldn’t be fair to the people who hired me, believed in me. Support goes both ways.
Maybe they’ll be okay with me doing less? Or maybe I just have to put the walls up again? Not be so open. Watch my words, so they can’t be taken, quoted out of context, manipulated, to make it seem like an entirely different chat than the one that went down.
Or maybe, I just have to continue being me, not tuck back into myself? Maybe, I have to be even more diligent about not reading anything written about me, ever.
I don’t know what the answer is.
But I do feel better, having written this. Not sure if I’ll post it. We’ll see.
Posted by Meg Tilly on Tuesday, April 02, 2013 in Chewing the Fat