In praise of re­lax­ation

Los Angeles Times - - MIND & BODY - By Nancy Lloyd health@la­times.com

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.

Kirk McKoy Los An­ge­les Times

CON­NIE BRIT­TON says she benefits from med­i­ta­tion and vo­cal train­ing.

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