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Candace Silvers: Living beyond the limitations of perceptions

Candace Silvers
  Credit: Candace Silvers/Getty Images

Candace Silvers is a teacher and coach who has developed a unique practice working with actors, producers and writers. She teaches her students to live "beyond the limitations of individual perceptions so that every event becomes an opportunity to experience success and happiness effortlessly."

The daughter of comedy legend Phil Silvers, Silvers offers workshops in in New York and Los Angeles and has coached actors, writers and directors on film and TV projects including Galaxy Quest, The Last Castle, Big Love, What Doesn’t Kill You, Brotherhood, Desperate Housewives, House, Mad Men, Nip Tuck, Lost, Robot Chicken, Lie to Me, Trust Me, and Dark Blue.

Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss said of Silvers' CD "The Tools," "There are very few people who contribute to anything at all when it comes to teaching acting techniques. What Candace has gotten a hold of is a very, very good thing."

What was your first job/experience in the entertainment business?
When I was 15 I was asked to play the female lead in a Casablanca Film called “Angel”. The film never came out, but the experience changed my life.

How did it lead to where you are today?
The experience created a calling, although at 8 years old, I knew I wanted to be an actor. It created a deep desire to play in the life of another without leaving the self. I found myself “fake acting” coming from what I thought, and not falling into the other character as self.

What motivated you to become a teacher and coach?
What motivated me were my friends asking me constantly to coach them. I didn’t know that I had this gift for a long time, but when I coached my friends they booked the jobs and then came back and asked for more. Over time it developed into a job. Then they came back and asked me to teach an acting class, and I said “No” and they persisted until they actually got the space, the materials and I couldn’t say “No” so I showed up to teach.

Can you discuss your "8 Essential Tools" and how you discovered/developed them?
Stakes, obstacle, and through line are the first of the eight tools. When you have movement in the “real world”, you have need, loss, and action. Without these three together as one, you have no pathology, no thought, or mind. With one tool, the others become naturally attracted and causation begins. The next five tools are magnetically attracted to each other through what’s missing in nature’s human behavior, organically. I’ve simply developed titles for each so the human mind can see what’s unidentified in our culture manifest. When anyone has a desire or want, the fear of the loss of that desire naturally attracts itself.

You were intimately involved in the success of the film Galaxy Quest -- one of my favorites, by the way. Can you describe the experience?
I was hired by the director to help analyze the script and pop it into a reality. What I do for others and did for Dean was give him information that allowed him to see the words lift off the page so that the actors weren’t “fake acting” their ideas. For example, Tim Allen wasn’t talking to fake aliens. We had him substitute the high stake obstacles in his own life for the aliens. This caused a visceral connection. So, he was now not acting what he thought, but instead taking an action to save his own life. The director then gets to film this! What the audience sees is Tim Allen and fake aliens. What the audience experiences is Tim’s life at stake. Henceforth, creating the script and the action in a non-dualistic performance. The experience the audience is experiencing is the experience the actor is actually in.

How do usually you begin a new project?
Using these eight tools, as you read the script you begin to see where need, loss or action is or is missing. I give the director and/or actor information so that they can see what the writer intended, not what the writer wrote. You can literally lift the words up off the page and causation comes into existence. The work creates the analysis. The analysis is the causation for the action.

Is there a "right" way to improve the chance of success?
No. There is a way of becoming aware that your idea of “the right way” is in your way. Once you’re aware of that, you see that your mind is entrenched in outcome of desire or want for your career. This leaves “you” non-present. In order for success to occur, you must be present. The “dangling carrot” that promises you a future is so mesmerizing that one never stops to recognize this illusion is never really coming. “You” want your life to “work out” which is a concept keeping you from ever really being successful.

What's the hardest part of your job?
Getting people to actually believe that what I do exists in our culture. This information and work is for the most part taken for granted as impossible. In “A Stroke of Insight,” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor speaks about a healthy way to live by using the experiential part of the brain without having to have the experience of stroke to do so. This practice is exactly that. And yet still spoken by Dr Taylor as a wish, not an obvious truth in our society.

Do you have a favorite work experience?
I think, watching people go from “Nowhere” to “Now-here”. For instance watching “Out of work” actors becoming very successful actors is a great joy for me. I don’t have a “favorite”, they’re all my favorite. Though, for instance, let’s take a student named Brian Goodman. He came to me pretty much directly out of prison and ten years later he’s a successful actor, a successful director, a successful father, a successful human being in every area of his life. He’s a man that I respect in all areas. This is what happens with all of my students, so to say there’s a favorite? Impossible.

What's the best advice you ever got? What's the worst advice you ever got?
To me there’s no such thing as “best” or “worse” advice. It’s just someone’s opinion making you run to and fro.

If you could meet one person in the industry -- living or dead --who would it be and why?
My Father. I’d get to hug him and hold him again. We could have a conversation about our work that we never got to have while he was alive.

What are your future plans?
For me there is no such thing as a future. I’m presently here, available for the asking. We have several movies in the making. A lot of my writers, directors and actors are starting to sprout up all over the place. To me, they’re like my children… beautiful and exciting to see. We also have 200 children in Rishikesh, India that our charity takes care of. This is an amazing opportunity for me. For the last 4 years I have had the privilege of watching these little ones grow. We have been part of a heart transplant, etc. We are now in the process of building our first school. We travel there twice a year. I teach all over the country, so we’re always in movement.

Where can Examiner readers find out more about you and your work?
I think the best place is YouTube because in the written word, the experience of what I’m committed to doesn’t really show itself. It’s too new. The intellect doesn’t know how to read it.

Candace Silvers will be giving a FREE 2 hour class for LA area residents on Feb. 6th from 2-4pm. More details at


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