All Photos: Alan Mercer
Lindsay Wagner makes little distinction between her life as an actress, advocate, mother, humanitarian or author. What unites these various parts is a commitment through her work and her personal life to advancing human potential. Early in her career this commitment was evident in her Emmy Award winning portrayal of “The Bionic Woman”. Her use of media as a way to communicate ideas to help people in their personal process is demonstrated in so many of her films.
Films such as "Shattered Dreams" on spousal abuse and domestic violence starred in and co-Produced by Lindsay in 1991; "The Taking of Flight 847" on the root complexities of terrorism (1988); "Evil In Clear River" on the quiet rise of the Neo-Nazi movement in America (1988); "Child's Cry" on child sexual abuse (1985); "I Want To Live" on the moral dilemma regarding capital punishment (1983); and "The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel" on the battle between the naturopathic and allopathic healthcare (1979).
Off screen, Lindsay continuously works both publicly and privately in advocacy and public education. She shares the knowledge and experiences, which have greatly impacted her life and have profoundly enhanced her awe of our often unrecognized human potential. Lindsay has co-authored two books: a best-selling vegetarian lifestyle cookbook entitled, The High Road to Health (Simon & Schuster) and a book on acupressure, Lindsay Wagner's New Beauty: The Acupressure Facelift (Simon & Schuster).
From 2003-2006 Lindsay co-facilitated a support group for convicted batterers and their families. In 2004 she co-founded “Peacemakers Community”, a non-profit organization that offers families and individuals more constructive and peaceful ways of relating to each other and oneself in order to help end the cycle of family violence. Her work utilized a range of psychological techniques and Spiritual encouragement.
For the public, Lindsay has been offering experiential “Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart” retreats and workshops. These programs are designed to help us access more deeply the peace and joy which is naturally within us and to realize how the conscious and unconscious concepts we carry in the mind often have a life diminishing influence on others and ourselves. For many, it can be the catalyst needed to break through old or undesirable patterns affecting our family dynamics, intimate relationships, self-image, parenting, friendships and our work/career.
AM: I know you are teaching acting now. Have you been doing this for a while?
LW: Several years ago I taught a class called from stage to screen because obviously camera work is my expertise. I have been taking people who already have a lot of good training and teaching them how to be more authentic for the camera. You can get away with being a lot more inauthentic on stage. The camera will look right into your soul.
AM: I imagine most people are not so good at it.
LW: That is the biggest challenge for film acting to reach the depth of authenticity of what you’re feeling and being fully present and fully in the moment with that scene. It’s not about saying the lines or hitting your mark. That has to be second nature. You have to learn your lines to the degree that you don’t ever have to think about them. This allows you to be spontaneous and really in the moment so you can trust that those words are going to come out right.
AM: Did you have any trouble memorizing lines?
LW: I memorize scenes in a way that most people don’t teach. I think my dyslexia taught me how to creatively learn how to memorize. It actually worked very well for me. I believe that’s what helped me to be more authentic much earlier in my career. I didn’t learn them mentally. First I learn the emotional arc and once I get that down, the words just start making sense assuming it was written well.
AM: Was it harder if you were playing a doctor and didn’t understand what you were saying?
LW: I never played a doctor like that and I would so not want to do that. Actually I did play doctors but the parts I chose were never about the disease, they were about the people. It was a personal drama and they happen to be a doctor. The personal story is secondary to the disease in most medical shows. That’s how it is with the cop shows.
AM: You haven’t been devoting every last moment to acting in the last few years and you seem to be a very connected person. Is that true?
LW: One of my passions in life is body, mind and spirit.
AM: I think along those same lines. Has this always been natural for you or did you learn it somewhere?
LW: I’ve had some extraordinary mentors in my life. I began studying acting when I was twelve. This only happened because I was babysitting for an acting coach. One of the things he taught was to go out and people watch. Not just watch what they do but to also watch your reaction to them. If you are having a negative reaction to what you are watching someone do, then something inside you is judging that person. If you are judging that person and you get called to play that type of person, it will be difficult for you to do.
AM: Why is that?
LW: Because your personal ego gets in the way of letting you go to that place that says I actually have that place inside me too. The exercise was to recognize our judgements. It doesn’t mean you can get rid of them just like that, but when you are aware of it, you can release them at least temporarily.
AM: How does this benefit you?
LW: This way you can play that character more honestly. That is actually a lesson in consciousness. Then at nineteen when I had my illness, I was taught meditation and visualization along with awareness of my thinking process and how this affected my health. All of this was intentionally teaching me consciousness and how profoundly the body and the mind and our spirit, the unknown, that which is great than oneself, all blended into everything else I was learning. By the time I really started acting, I’d had a lot of training of knowing myself. The more you know about yourself the better off you will be when you try to perform. You know these things about yourself and how to trigger them.
AM: One thing I didn’t realize is how much of a practical joker you are.
LW: That’s because I’ve played in so many dramas and serious movies after the ‘Bionic Woman.’
AM: You are good at comedy too!
LW: I grew up in a family who had humor. My mother and grandmother were very funny and sarcastic.
AM: You mentioned that you were vegetarian. Were you raised vegetarian?
LW: No, far from it.
AM: Did you grow up eating steak?
LW: No, it was more TV dinners. (laughter) a lot of aluminum in this body…a lot of macaroni and cheese.
AM: When did you turn vegetarian?
LW: When I was eighteen. I was a child of the 60’s. I started really taking care of myself. Everybody was starting to become conscious of the treatment of animals and that kind of thing. The whole social revolution was going on and we were learning about factory farming and how many chemicals were being pumped into the animals. Those things seemed like a no brainer to me.
AM: It took until now for this knowledge to become main stream.
LW: Evolution is slow.
AM: I really appreciate that you have chosen to help all of us learn more about happiness and peace. Do you feel you have found both of these things?
LW: Sure, but everybody still has ups and downs. I am light years from where I used to be and I’m grateful to be there.
To learn more about Lindsay Wagner visit her web site http://www.lindsaywagner.com/