We had the good fortune of connecting with Autumn Withers and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Autumn, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
The habit of FOLLOWING THROUGH no matter what I’m feeling or thinking, no matter the doubt, lack of inspiration, and second-guessing, to do what is at hand by trusting in the unknown and creating from the artistry within. It takes practice to remain present when working in film and television, to create from truth and spontaneity, and to commit to what is happening NOW. Also, the follow through of continuing to put myself and my work out there authentically without giving up. That’s a big one. When others ask me how to write a script, I simply say by “sitting in a chair.” My habit is to sit down for a minimum of three hours a day when I’m writing a script. No matter if I write a half page or twenty pages in that time, I sit down and I write. Even if I think I’m typing dried up horse crap, I may be doing very good work and it can be reshaped and rewritten later. Acting is accomplished one moment at a time, writing is accomplished one word at a time. The practice of following through doesn’t always feel good, but other times it feels downright magical and you’re dancing with pure creativity itself where anything is possible. And you always have something by following through: a completed script, audition experience, a booked job, a sold script. To be able to get something done, to never give up, to have something at the end of the day is invaluable. I feel quite lucky that I’m able to pursue work I love and I want my daughter to see that, so she may have that for herself one day.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My purpose is storytelling. Stories can be a real agent of change and spread joy and light. Someone once told me that I create stories that let people into their own lives more and help them move forward. I carry that one with me in my back pocket as daily motivation. Mindset wise, I’m starting to realize that success, like happiness, is an inside job. And there’s no one blueprint or universal definition for it, especially when you’re an artist. Outwardly, career success is doing the thing I love and making money in exchange. I also measure success by how much fun I’m having and how full and aligned my life feels. Those definitions have stayed pretty constant in my career. This traditional idea of success where we all think we’re going to hit the “made it” mark…I don’t know that that ever really comes. It’s like thinking as a teenager you’ll be a real adult when you hit 21. Then the cap moves to 30, then 50, etc. What I do know is I’m pursuing and doing the thing I love; it’s what enriches my life and what I hope enriches the lives of audiences. When I turn around and look back over the past sixteen years, my early 20s self wouldn’t believe all we’ve done from stage to screen to writing stories of my own. I’m proud of the work and I’m also wise enough to know that life is more than the calibration of achievement. My best career advice is to be unapologetically yourself and infuse your work (and life) with good vibes. I believe people feel that passion and energy.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d start with high tea at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, then stroll the various grounds. In the downtown Arts District, we’d visit Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles gallery, housed in a former flour mill. Dinner and snazzy cocktails at historic RedBird in DTLA, with a show at REDCAT Theater. The next morning would start with a flat white at The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa in Culver City, followed by a day of sun and sea at El Matador State Beach and fish & chips at Malibu Seafood. We’d drive south down PCH to Marina Peninsula Beach to watch the sunset. We’d visit the Self-Realization Lake Shrine Temple and walk around the reflective lake. Next a three mile hike around Temescal Canyon trail with some of my favorite views of the Pacific. Followed by wine and an early dinner in a woodland setting at Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon. I know that’s packing in a lot, but trust me, it’ll be fun.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, actor Gideon Emery, deserves more than a little credit. To have a partner who understands the wirings of my dreams, heart, and creative work is like having a forever backup battery. He reads every script I’ve written and is a kickass scene partner too. Two of my creative mentors are Josh Pais, founder of Committed Impulse, and Kelly Kimball, owner of Kimball Studio. Josh ignited my artistry in a way I didn’t know could exist and took me to the core of my truth. His program Committed Impulse is like creative crossfit for body, mind, and spirit. Kelly is a mix of an acting and spiritual teacher who knows how to pinpoint your authenticity and translate that to camera. Her level of care, attentiveness and support is palpable and a real growth catalyst. I also have some amazing lady friends in my life who are a source of encouragement and resiliency. Book-wise, the ones I keep bedside are The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron. The first is a friendly reminder that I am a spiritual being and not the chatter of thoughts in my mind and the second is for inspiration from one of the greats to pick up my pen (or open my laptop) and celebrate the female experience through words.