Cristin Milioti’s Advice to Aspiring Actors

by Shelby Converse

At the PaleyFest 2014, there was a How I Met Your Mother panel which interviewed the cast of HIMYM, including the uber-talented Cristin Milioti.

One of the questions asked was for advice on acting. Her marvelous co-star Alyson Hannigan offered up the suggestion “definitely get other hobbies.” (and shared some of rejection stories – how could have anyone rejected Alyson Hannigan?!) but it was Cristin Milioti’s advice that inspired this post:

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"Don’t go to theater school. Roll around in a dark room and pay someone 80K and BAM! You got a BFA."

Okay, I am actually getting a BA but I’m been rolling in the same dark room as my BFA classmates for the last four years so I’ll take a stab at this one.

Yep, I actually paid that much for my degree. Or, I will have as I start paying it back later this year. And yep! I do spend a lot of my classes rolling around. I remember a day from sophomore year, when I actually rolled around in the dark and we called it an acting exercise.

So for this blog post, I pulled out my acting journal and I found what I had written about that day: from walking blind-folded across the studio “like a tightrope walker”; how we would touch each other to establish who and where they were. When we started establishing long-distance communication through clapping and finger-snapping and stomping until we had all found each other. I wrote about how we then partnered up and what it was like to be led blind-folded around the room. I wrote that I “couldn’t help, but laugh” as I ran holding another leader’s hands.

My notes from that day sound silly and even trivial. Just something fun. I mean, we were laughing and clapping our hands. But at the bottom of the page, I wrote down in quotation marks: “By being brave, we realize we are not alone.”

These have been my favorite classes, the ones I spent rolling around, making friends with the floor and letting it catch me every time I fell down (a lot. I’ve fallen down a lot over the past four years). And the dark? I learned from being in the dark, like what to do when I can’t see what to do; how to reach out and find others who are also in the dark and looking for someone to trust, and yes – I’ve learned how to be brave.

If I am going to graduate with a BA, I’m glad I got to learn how to roll around in the dark before I have to do it in the real world in two months. I have a feeling that real world floors are going to hurt a lot more to fall down on but this is where I start getting to be brave.

- Shelby

P. S. As Tom Loughlin informed me: