Actress Dee Wallace embodies the feel-good spirit of one of her signature films–
“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”–by practicing and teaching self-responsibility for
happiness and health.
Dee Wallace played a nurturing single parent in the film “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and a mother forced to protect her brood by keeping a vicious St. Bernard at bay in the thriller “Cujo.” Emotions behind those parts have roots in her Midwestern upbringing. Wallace, growing up in an impoverished Kansas family as a self-described plain Jane, was born Anna Bowers to a mother who worked full-time and an alcoholic father who couldn’t hold a job and committed suicide.
Those childhood patterns helped shape Wallace’s perceptions of life, she writes in her 2008 book Conscious Creation: Directing Energy to Get the Life You Want (iUniverse). She attracted men in her life whom she had to take care of in one way or another. On film, it was no accident that she often portrayed victims.
Wallace recalls a family meeting when she was 13. Her family was trying to sort out its problems when her brother described how poor they were. Wallace recounts being jolted and confused by the comment. After all, the family had a house, though at the time she didn’t realize it was a rental and her grandmother was footing the bill. At that moment, poverty wasn’t her reality.
The perception of her family situation during that meeting underscores a philosophy and lifestyle that has turned into a second career for Wallace, 60. About a decade ago, she began passionately embracing the concept, as the title of her book suggests, that we are responsible for proactively creating our own health and happiness, no matter our circumstances, and now teaches that belief system.
The principle is a cousin to the “law of attraction,” cited in the best-selling book The Secret, that holds that the universe will make your dreams come true if you sincerely believe in them. “As much good as The Secret did...it also kind of gave us the suggestion that if you do this, you get that,” Wallace says. Instead, under her principle, the rewards are centered on peace and happiness and come as part of a lifelong process.
Wallace has married teaching with acting, too, running her own acting studio. She is no longer solely identified with the terrorized women she played during a stretch of her career in films like “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), about a clan of cannibals, and the werewolf vehicle “The Howling” (1981). Of late, Wallace has been playing an array of parts whose diversity she attributes to her approach to health and happiness. She spoke with Energy Times from Los Angeles.
Energy Times: In your book you describe acting as a metaphor for life, and that spirituality and acting are part of the same domain for you.
Dee Wallace: If things are not showing up in your life the way you want them to, you are holding something in your energy that is directing it that way. The universe is continually trying to talk to us and give us messages about what that is. One of the ways that it does that, for example, if you’re an actor, is through the roles that you attract or the roles you are in fear of playing.
If you keep attracting victim roles there’s probably something in your energy that says I have a definition of myself as a victim, which is interesting because most of the roles in my life have been in horror films and have been victim roles. It’s interesting now how that’s kind of changing. I’m moving back into the stronger woman roles which I played at the beginning of my career and there’s more of a balance now. I’m kind of doing everything. I just did “Bedrooms” with Barry Bostwick; I play a very strong woman who has decided to leave an affair and return to her husband. As opposed to the perspective of a woman who has been scorned or a woman who is creating her life out of unhappiness, she’s coming together in the love that she has in herself. In the film “Raven” I play a waitress who knows everything in town and everyone knows her; again, she’s very sure of herself.
She knows who she is. She kind of runs the town. She’s the center of part of the strength of the film and not at all a victim.
ET: That’s interesting. I’ve heard actors say they choose their career because it gives them a chance to play roles that have nothing to do with their lives.
DW: I think that’s true maybe in some people. That wasn’t my case at all. I got into acting because I was passionate about it. I love to emotionally bring things to life. I love to feel. I love to move people. I love to heal people. Acting in its greater sense does all those things. “E.T.” opened people’s hearts and helped heal their hearts. When you can heal people’s hearts and move them into true feeling and emotion and raise their consciousness and love, then they heal. It’s what “Chariots of Fire” did. It’s what “Slumdog Millionaire” did this year, and do you need a big name to do that? Heck no. You just need the heart of a story and the passion of the people that are involved. They have the insight and fortitude to carry it forward.
ET: You are writing a second book in which you discuss the influence of your acting teacher Charles Conrad. Tell me about the impact he had on you.
DW: Charles Conrad was my mentor. He changed my life by introducing spirituality and an energy principle, and how that worked in a person’s life and how you directed your energy through the choices you made in acting.
ET: You write in Conscious Creation that he taught about shifting energy from your mind to your heart.
DW: You’re dead if you go into your mind. That’s not where any of the answers are. They’re always in your instinct—your heart center. You don’t sit down and figure out who you’re going to fall in love with, do you? You meet somebody, you have an instant reaction, a chemical instinctive hit about that person. If you go into your mind, you usually don’t follow that. All of us get instinctive hits about, “Ok, go here. Make that choice.” If you don’t follow that, you’re not following your higher guidance. Usually we get those instinctive hits and say, “Nope, sorry. I was taught to go into my mind. I have to figure out if this is the best choice. Oh, probably not my best choice.” And it was.
ET: “E.T.” obviously enhanced your profile and was significant in your career, yet you describe your post-“E.T.” life as challenging.
DW: I had a lot of issues with self-worth, with waiting for people outside of me to say I was good so that I would know I was good. The further I got in my career, the tougher the negotiations got and the more fear was put into me by my agents—“Oh, you can’t do this. You can’t do that. You should do this. This is going to be bad for your career.” I just wanted to act. I want to be in my passion. We got into negotiations with the studio. Then they didn’t want to pay me what I thought I was worth. I started defining myself as, “Well, I must not be worth as much,” as opposed to, “No, I know, inside myself, I know my self-worth isn’t about a dollar. It’s about what I know about myself.” It got all confused. I lost my power for years after that. I had to go on the journey literally of what “E.T.” was metaphorically about, which was getting back the home and the knowing of who I really am.
If you have limited and fearful perceptions, you create beliefs around that. Once you’ve created beliefs, you create the manifestation of that in your life. And that’s exactly what happened. Would I have been able to not own those perceptions and be more in my power and not have had to go
through those lessons? You bet. But would I have been able to write a book and heal people now because I’d learned the lesson? Probably not.
ET: How would you have handled your life differently after “E.T.” with the knowledge you have now?
DW: I would have known that I create my own life, that nobody else creates me in any way, shape or form. I hold onto my power. I choose to know that I’m worthy no matter what dollar amount happens to me. And once “E.T.” is finished I go on to create my career and my life in happier ways. But I had lost my choice because I had given my power away. I was allowing the outside world to define who I was as opposed to...my own definition of who I was so I could keep creating my life. It was manifesting itself as, “Okay, I’m not worthy anymore.” So I wasn’t getting the offers that I should have gotten. I wasn’t doing the level of pictures I should have been doing. I had bought the belief that it wasn’t going to happen any more.
ET: What was the defining moment of change?
DW: You know, I think it’s still happening. Life is the process of expanding exponentially into knowing that you are creation itself. So whatever you want to create, you have to create within yourself before the world can match it in your manifestation. We are taught from the time that we can understand “go” that the way we know if we are manifesters and creators is how the world is showing up. Not how we create from within. So, if they give me a good review, then I know I’m loved and then I
know I’ve done a good job. I say in my book that one of the most valuable gifts my late husband [actor Christopher Stone] ever gave me was after “The Howling.” I said to him, “I got a great review.
They really think I’m good.” And he said, “Honey, if you believe the good ones you’re gonna have to believe the bad ones.”
In other words it’s real easy to give our power away when they are saying good stuff. But if you’re going to give your power away you are going to give it away when they say the bad stuff, too.
Ultimately you’re the only one who knows. You’re the only one who knows: Did I do what I wanted to do? Am I truthful in the moment? Did I see myself in my passionate intention of being truthful as an authentic artist? You’re the only one who knows.
ET: Is it a matter of simply ignoring the negative reviews—literally, if you are an actor, and metaphorically in other walks of life?
DW: I don’t think you can ignore all the [trouble] that’s going on in the world today, about the economy and “America is in trouble.” It inundates us from the collective consciousness. If you ignore something you’re running from it. And if you’re running from it you’re a victim to it. You have to look at it and go, “Come on in. I’m looking at you and I’m saying to you: Not in my life. In my life, I am my own creation. In my life, I am creating abundance and wealth and safety in knowing that I am just fine.”
ET: What you are describing sounds like it might be related to the power of positive thinking.
DW: I’m talking about the choice, the direction of energy. You can think positively and still have
energy behind that that doesn’t know. For example, for a year I was on a treadmill going, “I’m a successful, happy working actress.” Well, I wasn’t. I didn’t start working. And the only thing that got in shape was my butt, because behind the “positive thinking” was the belief: “You’re not a successful actress, and that’s why you have to do this. That’s why you have to keep saying these affirmations, because you’re not.” So then subconsciously all of your energy is really directed onto “I’m not a successful working actress,” and that’s what you keep manifesting. I don’t care how many affirmations, how much positive stuff you spout, if you in your energy are doing it with the belief intact that you’re not and you have to do this because you have to change yourself, then it’s not going to work because ultimately your energy is still focused on, “There’s something wrong with me, I have to get rid of this, and that’s why I’m doing this.” What you focus on is what you get whether it looks like you are doing something positive or not.
ET: What’s your diet and exercise regimen?
DW: I do Pilates twice a week, and I power-walk with my dog everyday. If I miss it, I don’t stress about it. I eat really well, but I love sweets and chocolate, and I have a glass of wine every night. I don’t do a lot of carbs. I don’t do fatty foods. I pretty much do protein and vegetables and salads, but every once in a while I go out for [a burger]. I don’t believe in anything rigid, because if you put your
attention on rigidity, then the field behind it is, “If I don’t do this then I’m not okay.” There’s a difference between, “I love myself so much that I want to put good [things] in my body,” and “Oh my God, if I don’t do this, then I’m not going to be okay.”
I take multivitamins and I take some adrenal support stuff because my adrenals are a little funky after “Cujo,” and just living in LA with the stress level and the air. In “Cujo,” everything I had was, “How do I break down, how much do I break down and when do I break down?” Your body does not differentiate whether you’re acting or whether it’s real life. It goes into fight or flight, and chemically your body reacts the very same way in acting as it does in life. So for two months I was putting my body through chemical fight or flight, everyday, numerous times. And my adrenals got depleted.
But with my work and direction of energy, I’m off almost everything. As a matter of fact, I just had a physical. I’ve healed my thyroid; I don’t need to be on thyroid medication anymore. I’m off all medication other than hormones, and all my tests came back better than they did a year and a half ago. I really attribute that to the direction of the energy and the release of stress that that direction creates in my life.