LIVING BEYOND LIMITS: Tiffany Soi x Joey Ansah
Hi Everyone, it’s Tiffany Soithongsuk: welcome to my conversation for WeMove Magazine titled “Living beyond Limits & Mental Resilience”. I am so excited to share my talk with Joey Ansah, an undeniable beacon for these themes: this conversation is well worth its time stamp and I urge you to listen all the way through.
Joey Ansah, of British-Ghanian descent, is an actor, film maker & lifelong martial artist. He is renowned for THAT iconic fight scene with Matt Damon in the action thriller The Bourne Ultimatum. In more recent times, you may have seen him in MI6, Aladdin, to name a couple. He is also the director- producer of the revamped comic-cult web series of “Street Fighter”.
Joey is one of the most charismatic, articulate and knowledgeable men I know. This conversation is a revelation on multiple levels: Yes, he shares fascinating insight into the acting industry - the graft, the patience and the will needed to succeed. As a martial artist, he shares his deep appreciation and application of the philosophies around the spirit of essence & endurance, that lead to mastery not just in physical terms, but in this game of life. But what really hits hard and ties this all up is his sincerity in opening up about his nervous breakdown: Joey is able to express and articulate the mechanics of his breakdown which I hope will be of real insight - if not comfort - for those who have suffered, or are suffering, from panic attacks/phobias, extreme distress and/or depression. In touching on the realities of suicidal thinking, we also highlight the power of genuine human connection and how at the root of all, that is what we all really crave in life.
On the parallels of his journey through film, physicality, and all important mindset, we see how discipline, process, observation, and choosing to be pro-active vs reactive can be the differentiating factor in finding a way through this life. There is so much to learn from in this conversation and I hope you relish the dialogue.
As Joey shares: “Try to not let fear consume you completely, maintain your will, get help if you need it, find your way through, keep the fight…endure.”
KEY NOTE Timings
On fighting Matt Damon: T: “if it was you vs Matt Damon in real life, there’s no way he would have won!” J: “he’s a strong guy, the thing about fights is that anyone on a good day has the ability to knock anyone else out…it takes 8lbs/square inch to knock someone out, most people are capable of it.”
Personal history: “I didn’t train as an actor, I did biology!…my life moved from London, to Ghana, then Plymouth”
On his desire to be in the film industry: “My father said, “if you start something, finish it. What does it say of your integrity?”
On potentially career-ending injury: “I snapped my achilles right before major production… I landed Michael Jackson, Smooth Criminal-Lean style”
“Denial is something I actively worked out of my life: acceptance & ownership of what is, is my life mentality”…”accept with grace, there is no point asking how or why. The healing begins immediately when you move into a recovery mindset”
“Life IS endurance”…in the words of Bruce Lee “pray not for an easy life, but the strength to endure a difficult one.”
“Within all systems, there is “essence”: a simple, non-sexy concept that is often overlooked…take martial arts: The famous Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi said “in all of those 60 duals I fought, I relied on 3 simple concepts for every success”
“People are attracted to window-dressing: at the centre lies essence. When you reprogram your mind to seek essence to anything in life, you cut through the BS and extract what is useful.”
On Street Fighter [in great humour]: “I’d taken personal insult to the latest studio film and decided it was my duty to respond.”
“Following the trauma of my father passing [one week before the SF premier in LA], the extreme stress in writing, directing, producing and starring in SF over the years and my non-stop work ethic - I had a nervous breakdown.”
“ “That’s not possible” is the biggest miss-assumption we have about anyone who experiences a breakdown/mental health issue” ”
“I found my limit, if you keep pushing perpetually…your body will do things to bring you down… I had the signs of central nervous fatigue - twitching eyes for three weeks…a spinal shiver continuously throughout the day.”
“I had this panic attack that never ended: extreme adrenal dump, unable to feel hands, feet, face, a sense of impending doom, like you’re about to executed. Imagine that never leaving you.”
“Fear is a physical sensation not just mental one, and there is a loss of physical control over yourself…it pushed me into an abyss that I began to suspect I wouldn’t come out of…at my lowest point, I had my first suicidal thoughts….how do I make it stop?”
“Before I couldn’t grasp the concept: I feel honoured now to understand the nature of being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from.”
On mental resilience “In all this, I never said to myself in all this “I cannot do anything… it’s easy to give into the fear, to say I am “unable”: you become institutionalised in a prison created by your fear.”
“Once I lose my free will, it’s over.
“Real courage is humility, it’s showing/admitting your weaknesses, in spite of your strength”
“Subconsciously we know when we are being fed propaganda, so when someone gives honest communication, it feeds what people are craving - real human connection”…thus on social media: “ it is utter poison in my mind, you’re getting less and less realness…”
“You’re not alone - when you’re open and can communicate [your darkness], you realise other people are going their own hell in their own way, and it’s ok, it’s normal.”
“Keep the fight: there is something good on the other side of challenge and adversity”