Elisabeth Rohm, who plays the lead role of Profiles magazine journalist Juliet Palmer, juggles a full-time acting career with her firm commitment to be a devoted, always-available mom. With a major film in the pipeline, a successful show on Lifetime TV, a recently published book, and a weekly celebrity blog on People.com that draws 1 million-plus readers, it’s inspiring to see how she’s able to stay beautiful, healthy, and positive while ensuring she has time to be at her daughter’s side. Spiritual Media Blog recently caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her most recent film she stars in, FINDING HAPPINESS. The Q&A is below..
Can you tell us a little about how you became involved in the film?
Elisabeth: By divine intervention, actually! About a week before the call came, I was having an active longing to deepen my spirituality.
My mother recently passed away – she was very dharmic, and always the one I’d call for the right thing to do.
Once you have a child you begin to listen to your inner voice because you have to guide them, and when you lose your mother you have to deepen in your inner voice because you no longer can ask them personally. You begin to really want to hear God speaking to you, then I got a phone call a week later asking me if I wanted to do this film which fed into a spiritual curiosity.
The casting agent had heard that I was somewhat exposed to Eastern philosophy in my childhood, and wondered if I might have a personal interest in it, which of course I did. I met with Shivani, and it was clear in the moment. I was to then Skype with Swami Kriyananda, and feared that I would be grilled on my spiritual qualifications for an hour. Instead he was very brief: “I like your eyes. Yes, let’s do this.”
How was it to be with Swami Kriyananda?
Elisabeth: It is easy to fall into your ego when you are in the presence of someone like Swami, because you can think that you must have pretty good karma.
As I tried to transcend that privilege of being with him so much, of reacting from a “me” point of view, I realized that when I was with him, I was in the presence of a deeper spiritual person. It had nothing to do with the two of us really – there was something more transformative going on.
He’s funny and human, which makes being around him simple. He is one of those people that have made loving God really simple.
When people see you so moved in the final scene with him, how much of that is you, and how much your character, Juliet?
Elisabeth: I approach all films with my own desire to deepen as a person. And I always look at what is going to advance the story in the most believable and dramatic way. What serves this movie and people who would watch it is that Juliet comes in with skepticism and curiosity and maybe a little bit of judgment and discomfort with this lifestyle.
There were times when I was in character and very out of touch with myself as I was spending time with Swami, because it doesn’t serve the movie if it’s always about Elisabeth. However, I also wanted the film to have some resonance of what was really important to me. I think we’ve accomplished both.
If you’re ready and you happen to stumble on a place like this, it will do something to you. Juliet didn’t come for it and it happened accidentally, and it might not have happened to me, and I would have acted that it did. But it did happen, and I got it.
Is it easy for you to incorporate your spirituality into the work that you do in film?
Elisabeth: Instinctively over the years I’ve recognized that if I’m very quiet before I perform, or if I’m very prayerful before I go to work, actively in gratitude, I obviously have a much better day, and a much better performance. It takes me out of being reactive, and enables me to “get out of my own way.”
Swami Kriyananda said that about writing. He says, “I don’t write. God writes.” For me I find acting much more interesting if after I do my work I ask, “what is this supposed to be?” then get out of the way.
If you can really do that, even if you’re playing someone of low consciousness, that piece of creativity is going to be seen. Ultimately, I think you can offer your creativity to a higher power, so that it has some subtle resonance with people beyond what your intellectual choices were for the performance.
Do you believe that your inspiration and vibration can be captured on film, not only visually and audibly, but also energetically?
Elisabeth: Absolutely. Some filmmakers like to work without scripts, or work with people who aren’t actors, because an authenticity comes out that is unrehearsed, and energetically more divine, because it’s real.
I think that is the trick for an actor – let go of all the rehearsal, all the memorization, all the choices, and just fly. The art of acting can be very high vibrationally, because what you’re learning is to just be. When you start to “act”, it all falls apart.
Are there any projects that you’d like to do?
Elisabeth: There are a million things that I’d love to do, but I’m going to stop saying what I want and just continue to receive those things that I’m supposed to be doing. It seems that whenever I let it go, I end up exactly where I’m supposed to be, and when I’m trying to make things happen, I just spin my wheels like a car stuck in a deep rivet of mud, and go nowhere very slowly.
Are there directors that I really love, actors that I admire? Absolutely. But it’s ironic how you end up working with whomever you are supposed to work with, and if you look back at all the pieces of the puzzle of your life as an artist, you’ll see how they all fit together pretty perfectly.
I love doing TV, I love doing film, and I love writing. I wanted to be an author when I was in college, and wrote one book and self published it. Disappointed with the results, I threw my toys into the sandbox and said “I don’t want to write anymore.”
But really, I feel that I am meant to be a writer, and it so happened that I got a blog on PeopleMagazine.com which awakened my love for it again. Out of that came a book dealfor my book Baby Steps.
You let something go, and then it plops right on your lap right when you’re ready to do something more valuable.
Do you see acting as a vehicle for spiritual development?
Elisabeth: Acting can become a spiritual experience, because it becomes very boring after a while to think about yourself all the time! That empty experience runs dry quickly, or at least it did for me. You begin to long to think not of yourself, and to have something else to put your energy into.
You begin to realize that you’re not just this little self – you have an opportunity to channel something much deeper. I think that many people who are very successful are deeply spiritual, and you can really see how they let go on stage, singing or acting or directing—performances of all kinds. You can see that they’ve totally let go of the wheel, and watching them is an angelic experience because they are just somewhere else.
So it can be, because if you’re ready for it, “me” is going to become boring really quick. As you move along, you begin to realize that your light isn’t about you – God gave it to you to serve others.
Finding Happiness will be available on DVD beginning October 15 through the film’s website: www.findinghappinessmovie.com