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Mindful : December 2018
I had this job, I could focus in a laser- like fashion on my work, because I needed to block everything else out. So, I think actors tend to make their lives chaotic so they find that focus. They’ve found, “Oh, when my life is crazy, I’m better at work. I’m better in my acting.” Talk about suffering that is not necessary! They also can’t modulate themselves. If you’re in that state, you’re in that state on-camera and off-camera and you’re creating chaos for other people. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that they don’t need to do that. Do you think that’s the case with a majority of actors? I said young actors, but I think that’s the case with a lot of actors who haven’t done much work on them- selves, and you know, it takes so many hours to be good at acting that I do think you tend to ignore the rest of your development as a human. It’s funny, you’re working in the capacity of being an expert in emotions and mental states, and yet some of it is just hoping for the best. And how does mindfulness impact other areas of your life? You want to give it to other people the minute you know what it can do for you. It’s that big. I have now shared my insights with my sons (Django El Siddig, 22, and Buster Miscusi, 26). It was only five years ago that I started to get a lot of my better infor- mation. It was like, OK, I know what I told you before, but I will always bring you the best, “hot off the press” stuff I know. This is really it; now please listen to this. Let’s talk about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was actually my favorite show and something I shared with my son... Thank you. That’s great. That kind of sharing imprints. A lot of families did that. We did that. We were in the mid- dle of DS9 when Django was born, and hehadtobeonsetwithmefromthe time he was two weeks old. He didn’t know anything else, and when he was four years old we came to New York and his teacher at the school said, “And where are you from?” And he said, “Star Trek, Los Angeles.” And it was true! It’s where he was from. (laughing) Your character on the show, Major Kira Nerys, struggled with PTSD. That’s exactly what was going on with that character. As you know well, my character belonged to a race called Bajorans. In the story, a militant race, called the Cardassians, had invaded my character’s planet. As Kira Nerys, I suffered through the horrors of war and torture and then helped fight back against the invaders. She was a survivor and was really tough and I loved that about her. What was that like for you as you struggled with your own trauma? My character’s experiences were featured throughout the series and were a big part of who she was; it took her seven years to somewhat recover. It took me way longer, personally. I was Major Kira in those days many more hours than I was Nana, and we’d work 16-20 hour days; it was a grind. And we did 26 shows a sea- son, which is unheard of now. We worked nonstop. I would have her dreams instead of my own dreams. I would have panic dreams of being in an alien Cardassian camp and not knowing how to get out. So her stress is what I dreamed about. I kind of knew instinctively for the first two years how a soldier like my character would react emotionally, but I really understood once I got PTSD. What’s in store next for Nana Visitor? I’m moving back to Los Angeles and working on some new projects. I also hope to, at some point, share more of what I’ve learned, so that what I went through might be of help to others, whether it be someone who has expe- rienced a trauma or a performer who wants to learn how to more mindfully maneuver being an actor. ● “Now if I have the start of an anxiety attack, I immediately know how to ground myself. Mindfulness has really changed my life.” Nana played Kira Ner ys from 1993 until 1999. “I was Major Kira in those days many more hours than I was Nana,” she says. “I would have her dreams instead of my own dreams.” PHOTOGRAPHBYAFARCHIVE/ALAMYSTOCKPHOTO 58 mindful December 2018 the mindful interview