Come alive! To be great is to be yourself
In a press conference last week with NZ media to publicise the NZ leg of his worldwide Greatest Showman tour later this year, Hugh Jackman impressed me with his authenticity, heart and pertinent points on the importance of connection with his audience.
I couldn’t agree more Hugh! We have met – at his West End debut in ‘Oklahoma!’ years ago, and at the gym in London – but I’m sure Hugh and I would be great friends if we could be.
A NZ reporter asked him why he seems so real and authentic in a world like Hollywood, full of fakes?
Hugh’s reply was, ‘In my job I spend a lot of time and energy pretending to be someone else. Learning to act, my teachers were adamant you need to really know yourself, before you can play someone else. I fired a publicist when I was in X Men: they said after an interview, “You use your hands too much. Stop it”. I don’t have the energy or desire to go down the path of creating an image off screen.’
Paraphrasing, I take that his advice to mean: Be you. Own who you are. Don’t change who you are for your ‘public’ or anyone, whether you’re on the school yard, on stage, in high finance, in a trade or on the catwalk. Be real!
His suggestion is also to be honest. It might be the confidence of where he’s at in his career, or his age. ‘I’m comfortable to show parts of myself I may not have shown 10 years ago’. Yaassss, Hugh! When you’re real and honest on stage, the audience are with you, every breath, every moment. That’s much more poignant, evocative and relevant to me than just singing a beautiful song perfectly – doing that doesn’t touch hearts and minds and generate a shift in consciousness!
Hugh will tour the world this year and in his NZ and Australia shows he’ll perform with Keala Settle, the Maori Broadway star who stole the show in The Greatest Showman movie with her inspirational anthem, This Is Me.
Hugh said he loves Keala because she opens her heart and the audience feels that. I believe that’s what makes a difference and why we do what we do at Incognito Artists and BRAVO Amici. We don’t sing to impress an audience, we sing, dance and act to make the audience feel: to create joy, to create magic, to create an emotional experience for every person that they’ll never forget. Like a united team, Hugh said Keala makes him open up more and that’s why he believes she’s the heart of The Greatest Showman. What we do as performers, individually and together, is all about heart-centred connection and unity. In our job, I don’t think there’s any point in getting out of bed if we don’t do that.
With an audience, it can be a cultural thing. People in America jump to their feet and give us seven standing ovations sometimes. They are amazing at showing their appreciation. In China, they can be as quiet as a mouse the whole way through and then erupt into applause at the end. Or when a Kiwi audience gets on their feet for you, you really feel you’ve achieved something! As Hugh said in his NZ interview, it’s not measured in sound or claps, you can feel if the audience is with you. You can feel a pin drop and the audience is just right there, in step with you. Not worried about their cares and woes in the world, but fully present to have fun and get swept away in the music, the love, the energy generated by all of us in the room.
I’ve just been saying that very thing from the stage during our Florida tour with BRAVO Amici and I mean every word. It reminds me of the Martin Luther King Jnr quote, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ Music gives us the opportunity to remember we’re interconnected and we can all shine our light, which no one can distinguish unless we let them.
We created our new act for Incognito Artists, The Greatest Show, to pay tribute to Hugh and his team, the heart-warming film and spectacular soundtrack that took the world by storm and dominated the music charts. We just couldn’t stop singing the songs in the office, and at home, so we created a 30-minute song and dance show for our clients, audiences and for us, because these songs make you feel GREAT!
So come alive! Remember it’s never enough if we don’t have the support of those we love so let’s feel grateful for them every day. From now on, be present, be kind, be honest, be real, be YOU.