Marian Seldes: The Journey

From a conversation in 1998marianseldesjuilliard

I never wanted to train anyone for a career or a job: I wanted to train people to live well; to have a full life in which they respected themselves and others. I wanted to open hearts and minds. That was always my first objective.

People–students or not–come to you full of questions, including the one about your place in the life they are crafting. The world is competitive, and it will try to make you into things, units, that can be used and sold and traded. That is business, and we have to work and survive in the business of things, but the foundation of who and what we are needs to be somewhere else. This foundation is one of self-respect: I would tell students that they belonged in the world they had chosen, and they would remain in this world through their devotion, their good work, their kindness toward others who wanted to be in this world. If anything happens–a part, a career, money, an award–it came into the orbit of worth and kindness you had created. The core of your life is your soul, and it needs to learn and to share and to give.

Students would come to me asking about agents and producers and directors, and I spoke to them about people, regular people, who wanted the same things they did. There is no magic to working and loving: You give and you share, and you keep studying the wonders of literature and art and people. The magic is in the rewards of the work, done well and fully.

No one gives you a part or a life: They see you prepared and ready to act or work, and they invite you in to the experience they want to have. Be in the midst of the experience when they find you. It’s endless and beautiful, and I can wake up happy every day knowing that I’m getting back into the study and the living. I never thought I was superior to the students: I was just the older student, along for the same journey.

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