What does the profession of acting and comedy have to do with body, mind and spiritual fitness? Lots. As an actor, you have to learn to be in the present moment and as an actor who does improv comedy, you have to be especially in the moment, non-judgmental and accepting of everything your improv partner gives you otherwise, the funny doesn't happen. We are entertained by improv actors because of the situations they find themselves in and how they deal with them.
Good improv actors are really connected to that process. The profession of acting is also extremely demanding. The average public sees celebrity actors as having it made. But, shooting schedules sometimes stretch into 18 hour days where several different episodes are being shot simultaneously. Actors have to have their bodies and minds in tip top condition to maintain high levels of mental focus and energy that the stresses of this profession bring. That's why many of them hire personal trainers and practice meditation and yoga.
You'll recognize this improv actor the minute you see her - she's the bright perky character on the FX comedy series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" where she plays the co-owner of a bar and the daughter of Danny DeVito. The season series premieres on June 29. Kaitlin Olson, who's also appeared on "The Drew Carey Show" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," is a native of Portland, OR. She received her theater training from the University of Oregon and then became involved in the Groundlings, an LA based sketch comedy and improv company where Saturday Night Live culls some of its talent from. "Improv is very much about staying open and not letting your mind get in your way and your judgment of yourself or whoever you are working with - you have to allow it to just happen and be OK with it. It's kind of my philosophy for living," Olson says.
Since Olson's show is a single camera-show, it's the opposite of a live audience which is means she usually has 12+ hours of straight work daily. Ten episodes of her recent show were shot simultaneously within 2 1/2 months. "It's a lot of taking a deep breaths and working very closely together," says Olson. "The wardrobe and makeup and hair department really have to be on top of continuity because we're all jumping all over the place." (Continuity is a production term that refers to making sure all the elements in the scene are 'continuous' and matching. In the case of an actor's hair, the hair department has to make sure the hair looks the same from shot to shot since the actual shooting of a scene may take place over several hours or even days). "It's a lot and it takes a lot of focus," she says.
"My number one thing for staying in shape, weight wise is, I eat a lot. There's a common misconception among young girls especially which is so detrimental to their well-being, is not to eat if you want to stay thin." But you need to eat to keep your metabolism functioning," says Olson. "I literally eat all day long. I'll pass out if I don't eat." Olson says that in order to maintain her focus and energy levels, she eats small meals throughout the day because she is hypoglycemic. "It's a joke on the set, cause I always have something in my mouth. But I only eat healthy things like a banana or a handful of peanuts." This prevents her from overindulging at 'craft services' (the big buffet table that is set out during shoots for cast and crew).
As for fitness, Olson says "I have to trick myself into exercising cause I get really bored." Olson will play volleyball on the beach on weekends with her friends, "which I love, and sometimes on the weekends, I'll play tennis and go on lots of hikes with my dog, walking and playing with him. He keeps me active." Olson laughs when asked whether she's single: "Well, if you don't count my dog. My life is all work right now which I'm perfectly happy with." Olson's life is on track and she is not worried she doesn't have a man right now in her life. "There's a time and place for everything. If I can find someone who is OK with my life and what I'm doing with it, then I'm all about it." Right now, she's got the world on a platter.