In praise of relaxation
Costumed in sequins and 5-inch heels, the tall, toned and energetic Connie Britton stars as Rayna Jaymes, a country-singing icon, in ABC’s “Nashville.” She acquired devoted fans and four Emmy nominations with her nuanced portrayals of domestic life in NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” and FX’s “American Horror Story,” and this summer Britton is prepping to star in FX’s “American Crime Story.”
After graduating from Dartmouth in 1989, Britton moved to New York, teaching aerobics to pay the bills while she auditioned for acting parts. In 1995, she burst onto the big screen in “The Brothers McMullen.”
She says the death of her parents a few years ago was a wake-up call: She wanted to start a family, so she adopted her son, Yoby, 4, from Ethiopia; she started working with the U.N. Development Program, with a special emphasis on women’s issues; and she sought acting roles with producers and directors with whom she enjoyed working. One such role is in the film “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” which opened Friday.
Later this summer, Britton stars with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in “American Ultra,” a dark comedy involving stoners and the CIA. Britton, 48, whose long, lustrous locks have spawned blogs and the Twitter hashtag #ConnieBrittonsHair, de-glammed for both summer film roles.
How have meditation and vocal training helped you?
Meditation gets my mind outside of myself. I spent most of my 30s meditating for hours a day; it was a big priority. In my 40s, my life got very busy, so I meditate when I can. Throughout the day I focus on my breathing. … The voice is an important tool for an actor and breath is a huge part of that. Vocal training has given me more breath control.
How do you relax?
At work, even doing an intense [scene], I need to be somewhat relaxed. Concentrating on my breathing lets me re-center. … My son brings immense joy to my life. Time with friends is important. Going out to dinner with my son and friends is a relaxing ritual.
Do you ever cleanse or juice? Do you drink coffee or tea?
Once or twice a year I try a juice or rawfood cleanse. I work with somebody who guides me through it. I do something flexible so that when I finish I can move back to my eating habits. I like to drink decaffeinated coffee or a green tea macha latte with almond milk.
As a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, what do you do?
I’m working with their Development Program. Their focus is poverty eradication. I’m trying to bring focus to women’s empowerment. This summer I will travel to Rwanda and Kenya.
How do you cope with career disappointments?
I have gotten better at it over time. Years ago, when I didn’t get into the Yale Drama School, I wondered, “How will I ever have a career?” My desire to be an actor was so great that it carried me through disappointments. This acting career was my dream, but I never felt entitled. … And gratitude goes a long way.
CONNIE BRITTON says she benefits from meditation and vocal training.