Presence is more important than perfection. If you walk in the room with good energy and a smile on your face, it won’t matter if you flub up a line or two. Have fun! I wasted so much time and threw away so many auditions because I took everything so seriously. It’s acting, it’s supposed to be fun. And even though the industry can be ruthless and mean, they can’t stop you from enjoying yourself. The more fun you have, the better off you’ll be.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stefanie Cornell. Stefanie is a model, actor, author, Certified Hypnotherapist, and empowerment advocate. She began her acting career in theater and later got into modeling to extend her platform to promote positive body-image for women. Stefanie graduated top of her class in Hypnotherapy and believes that helping others through the art of hypnosis is a unique honor and privilege. She has published 4 children’s books under the pen name Stefanie Fields, a collection fondly referred to as “feel better books.” Stefanie’s books utilize the power of positive words and affirmations to promote joy, inner beauty, love and resilience. She also recently launched a new business venture offering gratitude stones with attitude. Her company’s debut line of swear word stones are specifically designed to uplift and encourage badass women by reminding them of their power and worth.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me! Well I was always a bit of a ham growing up; dancing around the house, singing with a wooden spoon as if I was on Broadway… My acting career began modestly, volunteering backstage doing props, lighting, stage managing, etc. Once my courage arrived, I began performing on stage and loved every minute. Being in magazines was also a dream of mine, but my confidence didn’t kick in until later on in life. My advanced age wasn’t the only roadblock; according to the modeling industry I was underheight and overweight. So basically I was old, short and fat — a triple threat. Since none of the agencies wanted me, I forged ahead freelance and booked tons of awesome gigs: fashion shows, print modeling, IMATS, special events, etc. Would you believe I got to wear a dress made of balloons?! And against the odds I walked Vancouver Fashion Week with girls half my age. It’s nice to think I served as a role model, but most of them were probably just wondering whose mom I was.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
The film/tv/modeling industry is full of interesting experiences. Whenever you’re in the mix of hundreds of creative people, interesting things are bound to happen. And there’s a very prominent “snowballing” effect which occurs… You do a runway show for a fashion designer, meet a makeup artist at the after-party, and before you know it you’re doing an award-winning photo shoot in a pool of milk! Or you do a body-paint competition, become friends with the artist and next thing you know you’re a bridesmaid in a Vegas wedding. Two of my books were recently published in Spanish thanks to an amazing friend I met on set of a Disney movie, and I once got a ride home from the actor who played Donatello the Ninja Turtle — he even called me dudette! You just never know who you’ll meet or where you’ll go. Saying “yes” to things will take you places “no” only dreams of.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Mistakes? Oh you mean learning points! Yes, I’ve scored plenty of those. Most of the time they’re not very funny though. One of the earliest — and most embarrassing — was at a tv audition that required a monologue of our choice. I had just wrapped a play set in the south that had an amazing monologue so I figured I’d just do that one — Southern accent and all. Needless to say the Hallmark lady wasn’t very impressed. Unless I’d been auditioning for a re-make of Designing Women (and who’s not down for that, by the way), speaking with an accent was a major no no. Oh well, lesson learned. 3 pointer!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Currently I’m in the process of creating a docu-style reality series. Of course we can’t share the details just yet, but, speaking vaguely, it’s about art and life. A former Hollywood producer I met said a successful pitch really comes down to having it land on the right person’s desk at the right time. Our reality series is relevant and meaningful, and something we truly believe in. So I’ve enlisted the help of the Universe to orchestrate the “right person right time” part. Plenty of great ideas have come and gone over the years, but this one is holding on and, as they say, the dreams that won’t leave us alone are the ones we must pursue.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
This is probably the part of the interview when I should name-drop celebrities and industry professionals I’ve rubbed shoulders with. Quite honestly though, I’ve met some of the most interesting people on set that aren’t famous (yet), whose names aren’t known and faces aren’t recognized. The thing is, I know their names and I know their faces and I know how hard they’re trying. I know the struggle is real, I know they keep showing up, even though part of them really doesn’t want to anymore. I know they want to get their big break and be in the big budget movies and make a big impact. I know they’ve practiced their Oscar speech, I know they’ve vision-boarded the shit out of their future life. I know this because these people are me, and I am them.
There are cast and crew members on set from all over the world, with all sorts of backgrounds and stories. These are incredible, talented people, going after their dreams, constantly searching for a little more mojo to keep them going. And I’ve learned that we are each other’s mojo. When the auditions aren’t coming in, when the callbacks are few and far between, when you’re up to your eyeballs in rejection and projects keep falling through, it’s your fellow dream-chasers that’ll keep you going. We’re in this craziness together.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
This industry can be terribly rough and unkind. Casting directors will chew you up and spit you out, over and over again. Rejection, rejection, rejection. And you have to keep showing up, over and over again (with enthusiasm!). You’re standing there slating your name, chewed up and covered in spit. It’s not pretty. And everyone says “don’t take it personally,” but that’s easier said than done. It’s fair to take a break from time to time. It’s easier to start the audition cycle over again when you’ve had a breather and can show up fresh. Your vibe will be much higher and you’ll feel much more confident because you’ve had a chance to recharge. Take a month off from auditions, do other things, don’t memorize anything, play outside, have fun! We’re not meant to face this constant onslaught of rejection the way we do. Take a break.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well thank you! Women’s self-esteem is top of my list. My second book, You’re Beautiful When, speaks to this. It plants the seeds through positive affirmations that beauty comes from your actions, your character, your kindness towards others, the way you listen, the way you learn… Beauty comes from the way you see the world and how you see yourself in it. True beauty has nothing to do with your external form. I know for certain that the stronger and more self-assured women become, the better the world will be. No one benefits from girls feeling shitty about themselves. It’s taken years, but I’ve finally decided to come into my own. And you know what? It’s so much easier to be yourself. To own who you are, this body and life you’ve been given. I’ve still got a ways to go, but there’s something to be said for knowing and going the right direction, and showing others the way.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
– Most of the time, you won’t know why. You could absolutely nail the audition and the callback and give a knock-out performance that you know couldn’t have gone better. And then, nothing. The phone doesn’t ring, you try not to check your email every 5 minutes for the next 5 days. They’ll have chosen someone else and you’ll never know why. That’s been the hardest part for me, because how can we improve if we don’t know what to change? Or if it’s even changeable?
– Presence is more important than perfection. If you walk in the room with good energy and a smile on your face, it won’t matter if you flub up a line or two. Have fun! I wasted so much time and threw away so many auditions because I took everything so seriously. It’s acting, it’s supposed to be fun. And even though the industry can be ruthless and mean, they can’t stop you from enjoying yourself. The more fun you have, the better off you’ll be.
– Get familiar with the lingo beforehand. No one’s going to give you a tour and tell you who everyone is and what they do. Once you’re on set, you’re part of set and you better know what’s going on. Also, do your part and nothing else. I come from theater, where everyone pitches in with everything; we’re a team, a family, everyone lends a hand. Film/tv doesn’t operate this way. As much as you might want to help the gaffer or carry some equipment for the lighting guy, don’t do it. That’s not your job and you’ll get in trouble for it. You’re better to just sit there with your script and be quiet. They’ll love you for it.
– If you have a weak spot, they’ll find it. These industries are superficially based and over time it can break you down. You need tremendous self-esteem and a strong inner knowing of who you are and why you’re there. I’ve had photographers alter my images to make my breasts look bigger; directors deny me based on my bra size alone; designers add extra padding to my top and happily announce “your husband will really like that!” And that’s just the nip of the iceberg. It’s especially hurtful when these remarks and photoshop enhancements are daggers delivered by women. Not that I would expect this sort of behavior from men either, but it’s particularly painful when it’s women doing it to other women. Please everyone: let us be kind, let us be compassionate, let us be careful with our words and actions.
– Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s okay to have other pursuits and follow other passions. Yes it’s true that you have to be persistent and yes you have to keep trying because it could be 1 in 100 auditions you actually book. Persistence is a virtue, but so is logic and common sense. If auditioning is beating you down and the rejection is getting to you, try something else for a while. Of course it’s important not to give up, because we all know Sylvester Stallone could have easily quit; same with Lucille Ball and Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling. They were all told “no” a thousand times over, but that didn’t stop them and it shouldn’t stop you either. However, “no” isn’t always a stop sign; sometimes it’s a detour… A friendly re-direct down another path that just might hold exactly what was meant for you; something you never would have found had you still been standing in that audition room. So by all means don’t quit. Just make sure you’re not closed off to other doors that want to be opened.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Your dreams want to come true; that’s why they chose you.” This is actually the tagline at the end of all my books. You only get to be you once. You will only have the experiences you have, your unique outlook on life, your imagination and skills, your personality, your traits, and your passions — all of this is yours just one time. As Chris Martin said, the songs are “in the air.” Anything you create is yours to create. Any character you play, any book you write, any song you sing, any sculpture you form, any cake you bake! They’re yours for the making. The dreams you have are yours because you absolutely have what it takes to make them come true. If you didn’t, they simply wouldn’t have chosen you.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom. My mom is my rock, my ultimate cheerleader, my constant ally. No matter how crazy some of my ideas and plans have been, she’s the first to jump on board and start buying supplies. If I’d been paying her for all the hours she’s invested in me and my endeavors over the years, she’d be a millionaire. And even then, sitting on the beach in front of a mansion, we’d probably still end up scheming about what we’ll get into next.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Cher. Cher is always my answer to this question and any question remotely resembling this question! Robin Roberts comes in a very close second. Who doesn’t love Robin Roberts? She’s the epitome of professionalism, authenticity, and class. Hello Robin! Lunch soon? I’ll see if Cher’s available.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Although I’m a multi-talented individual, social media is not one of them. My tiny little accounts are as follows:
Facebook — Author Page: www.facebook.com/stefaniefieldsauthor
Instagram — Actor/Model: @power.dreamer
Instagram — Viva Rebel swear word stones: @vivarebel
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!