The entertainment industry is focused a lot on the looks and fitness of actors, but what about the mental health to keep going strong audition after audition. We sat down with actor, writer, and producer Leo Oliva to talk the importance of a healthy attitude and healthy mind.
“You have to believe in yourself, that’s the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel the exuberance that comes from utter confidence in yourself. Without it, you go down to defeat” – Charlie Chaplin.
As a busy actor, can you run through your typical day?
I try to keep my day pretty packed with things that keep me growing. I get up at 4am and make a cup of tea before meditating for about forty-five minutes to an hour. It helps me get grounded before I start my day. I then sit down and journal while formulating my daily plan, outlining the main things that need to get done that day. I get my first workout in at about 6 a.m. I get a breakfast and a quick shower between 7 and 8 and then settle down to knock out my most important tasks of the day from 8-Noon when I get my second workout in. I use the workouts to stay in shape of course, but to break up the monotony of writing and reading, editing and giving notes on scripts, and memorization for auditions. I’ve also made it a habit to do at least one fun thing throughout each day. Whether it be watching a movie, going for a drive, hanging out with friends or chatting it up with the family, this gives me something to look forward to on the tough days. At about 2pm I continue with critical tasks including an end of day review, a gratitude meditation, and a visualizing meditation focused on the following day. I aim to be done with all my work by 5pm so that I can spend the next three hours before bed focused solely on family time.
What does a healthy attitude and mind mean to you?
I define a healthy attitude and mind as keeping a positive outlook on the task at hand and journey overall. I know, easier said than done. With our lofty goals and big dreams, each leg of our careers can seem to have no end in sight. But, if we take the time to break down our journey into actionable tasks and attack them with our best shot, we can do nothing but grow and keep moving forward. That progress and forward momentum is what helps me stay positive.
How important is confidence to you?
Staying confident is very important. The one thing most actors and creatives are slaves to are our minds. Even though we have the ability to allow our imagination to run free, we need to train it to focus on reality when our darkest fears, doubts and concerns can take a hold of us. In a game where we bare our souls with the hopes of landing a role and seldom if ever receive any feedback, knowing we’ve done the best we can is all we have to hold onto. The thing that shocks most people who are not in the industry is the lack of communication/feedback actors get when they audition. For “civilians,” it’s hard to imagine not hearing back about a job you interviewed for. We do that every time we get an audition, and not only with a resume. We expose our deepest truths with the hopes of being “accepted” or “validated” by some unknown individual on the other side. I don’t say this to complain about the process, but to merely make others aware of how we must operate and what we risk every time we perform. Confidence is the only thing that keeps us walking into a room or putting ourselves on tape, open and raw. It’s the only thing that allows us to do our best time after time even when there is no callback or booking. Confidence is the one and only thing that keeps this industry running.
How do you stay motivated?
I know I’m winning! At least that’s what I tell myself. Then I find ways to back it up. I do daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews of my accomplishments as well as any shortcomings. For every win, I make sure to congratulate myself and not take it for granted. I know my wins are built on past executions of my plans and my faith keeps me grounded. Any and all shortcomings are evaluated for mistakes I may have made and can correct. Everything else, the things that aren’t up to me, I allow God to take care of. My daily mantra is, “Trust your gut, Rely on Faith, and Keep moving forward.” I live by that.
How important is sleep to you?
With how hard I work, I see it as a necessity. You can’t expect to excel if you don’t push yourself to the limits of your capabilities. And you can’t push yourself to your limits if you don’t allow yourself to recover in between. I’ve worked on no sleep before, and it is possible, and I’d do it again if I needed to. But I am always clearer, more efficient, present and more malleable in everything I do when I’ve had a good night’s rest.
Have you always been into fitness?
I’ve always been drawn to physical exertion, but not strictly fitness. As a kid I played baseball, rollerbladed miles every day, trained in Muay Thai, and performed as a Competitive Cheerleader. I’ve always found myself most present in those moments of high risk and exertion, which I believe is why I’ve been drawn to acting. My current focus on fitness comes from noticing that I feel fulfilled mostly when I am progressing in something. In pushing my fitness daily, I know that I am literally growing and making progress each and every day. Also, physical fitness, and the manipulation of my physique is something I like to train like I do my craft. I like knowing I can drop thirty pounds if I need to, or gain it back when I want to, the way I want to.
Do you have a strict diet?
I eat what I want! Within certain limitations. I currently stick pretty close to a keto diet with one carb cycle day a week. But, with the recent lifting regimen I have been on as I follow Greg Avedon’s Goliath plan, I have started to incorporate more carbs on heavy lift days in accordance with his diet plan.
What is your “go-to” cheat meal?
I have two, but they aren’t really cheats. I don’t cheat on my meals because I feel like it’s cheating on myself. But when I need something a little different, I’ll either make myself a bowl of Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with Keto Granola or I’ll have an Espresso with a hint of milk and a bite of dark chocolate.
Erik Jackson has been a senior editor at Health News Tribune for three years. Fluent in French and proficient in Spanish and Arabic, he focuses on diseases and conditions and the newest trends in medicine.