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Ana Valdes Lim on Presence and Finding Hope & Light in The Most Unlikely Places

Ana Valdes Lim is an Acting Coach and Theater Director who spends her days guiding young actors in their journey and creative process. As she takes us through life in her sixties, Ana explains what it's like to simply exist at an age where goals are no longer necessary but hope, light, and spirituality is abundant.

What do you do for a living, and what are the things that make you feel more alive?

For a profession and livelihood, I am an acting coach, and theater-director.

Teaching "Acting Basics Workshop" with Nagoya Players, June 2023

What are the things that make me feel most alive?

Helping actors achieve their goals. For some actors the goals are internal, …that is to develop their character in a play, to overcome stage fright, to gain confidence, to change persona. For other actors it is external, … to be accepted into an actor – training conservatory, and yet for others to pass an audition successfully and get the part.

How old are you?

62…don’t feel it.

I am most known for_______________________________.

First of all, I am not known. But in my circle, I am known because I’m a good teacher and because I wrote 4 books on acting. As an acting coach, I sense actors, intuitively. I’m like an “actor-whisperer”. I can sense what works for them: Part- coach, part- witch. My work sometimes feels like a spell-casting, of course I am a good witch.

What do you think is the biggest challenge, and the best thing, about being your age?

I don’t feel my age…or any age. So I have to remind myself I’m 62.

The biggest challenge is staying in the moment…not getting caught up in all kinds of ideas, beliefs, fears, projects, bells and whistles of living. The best thing about being my age is a sense of breath, the breathing, the exhale of non-striving — No need to compete…no need to prove anything. There are no more goals. I am home and I can just be… just being present…presence is delightful.

How have you grown wiser in the past two years?

I hope I have grown wiser.

My focus is living deeply within.

What are the best pieces of life advice you have ever received?

There are so many. I cannot remember who said what.

Know thyself. (Aristotle?)

Let go.

Be in silence.


Love. Flow. Follow the light.

Joy is something you bring, not something you seek.

I am home.

Step back. Step back 3 – 4 steps. (Michelle Obama)

Sometimes: F&%$ it! or F&%* 'em! (My former teacher once said it, no names). It's very liberating.

Who are the women you look up to and how have they helped shape your life?

There are so many. I don’t look up to and admire everything about them. There are parts of their lives that I admire: Their spirit, resilience, joy in sadness, hope in despair, work, choices, behavior, demeanor, what they stand for, projects.

Correctional Institute of Women (prison), Mandaluyong

I admire the women at the Correctional Institute of Women in Mandaluyong, a women’s prison. I teach women inmates in maximum and medium security. We call them PDLs (Persons Deprived of Liberty). The class is “Theater Arts” and I have been teaching there 10 years. I admire my sisters who are there, deprived of liberty, living under challenging circumstances, yet finding their inner freedom. The women are courageous in their peril, joyful in challenges, hopeful, strong, witty. They are survivors. I love being with them and with their female guards who care for them. The officers use compassion, discernment, and temperance, and their life is a spiritual practice. They are a bright spot of trust, hope, and women’s power.


Actresses: Frances McDormand, Helen Miren, Judy Dench

Actresses who do not follow the regular trajectory, from roles and project selection, and expectations common to many actresses’ lives.

Spiritual teachers who are women?

There are so many.

Pema Chodron, Mother Teresa.

Women Writers

Anita Diamant (Red Tent), Madeline Miller (Circe) , Amanda Gorman (poet)

Women Leaders

Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth

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