The following piece is something I wrote and performed
earlier this month at Chevalier's Book Store on Larchmont, Los Angeles.
PART 1: I AM NOMINATED
In the midst of my involuntary retirement from show business, a curious thing happens: I am nominated for an Emmy! Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama, 2018, for a web series called “Broken”. Producers Ron and fellow nominee Miles took my two days of work and put me in every episode so I could qualify.
Those first days of being nominated? SO MUCH FUN!! Congratulatory calls, recognition, launching into my new full-time job: CEO of my Emmy campaign. I hire a publicist, engage a social media team, spend hours culling photos from my computer for Instagram. I design flyers and emails to send out asking for support from friends I think might be in the Television Academy and/or are amazing social media folks, an e-card for casting directors. Then there are red carpets, screenings, press interviews, and parties, to try and get invited to.
PART 2: I FUCKING HATE THIS
Three weeks in, I am anxious and overwhelmed. Andy Kindler once said: “I’m not really in show business, but I can see the campfires burning from here.” That’s how I feel. I’ve made a very nice living, but I’m not involved in the glitz, or the business of the business. I don’t promote myself or go to show biz parties. I am a happily married woman living in a beautiful home with a full and wonderful life in the middle. I love the middle. I am no longer ambitious…except for that part of me that is blindly ambitious and competitive and, crap!, this is all very sharp and pointy, not in my wheelhouse or comfort zone, too many extreme highs and lows, that shock my system and trigger me into the dark recesses of despair.
PART THREE: VOTING ENDS
Monday, August 27, I am euphoric. No more shaking hands and kissing babies, trying to get people to vote for me or interview me. No more assignments from my social media maven, posting pictures of me with famous people, or disappointing news from my publicist.
The wonderful actor Bryan Cranston recently said that when he auditions he is not there to “get” anything. He is there to give the gift of his particular take on a character. Once he has given the gift, he lets go. He never gives away his power by wanting something from them.
I gave Emmy all my power. She owned me. I have been a supplicant to the idea that it is Important and Meaningful to win, and if I don’t? I am the lesser for it.
PART FOUR: EMMY DAY
I wash my hair, meditate, write my acceptance speech. I lay out my Emmy ensemble: lacy bra, Spanx stockings, Michael Kors heels that terrify me, a navy blue, elegant gown.
Make-up artist is 25 minutes late, my anxiety goes through the roof. Lyft ride is interminable because of the left turn off of Pico into LA Live with one thousand other cars.
On the red carpet, my publicist is unable to entice anyone of note to interview me. I barrel up to several of them loudly announcing, “HI, I’m an Emmy nominee, want to interview me?” I have a big smile on my sweaty face, I stand too close, and I feel their palpable fear that if they don’t talk to me I won’t go away. I bag two interviews that way.
Inside. Row E, Aisle seat. My handsome husband in a tux. 2.5 hours, without a break, as award after award is announced, acceptance speeches given, applause, a constant flurry of seat fillers climbing over me as restless attendees come and go.
My category - nominees announced. Alas, my name is not called, I do not win. I am slowly saturated with a feeling that is equal parts relief, exhaustion, disappointment and surprise. I saw myself walking up there, saying my speech, going in that back room and experiencing whatever magic occurs there.
The Governor’s Ball. Big, beautiful, elegant, crowded, loud, lots of rich food. It would have been more fun if I’d won and/or if I drank.
Ultimate takeaway from the entire experience? I have become my biggest supporter. Two months of being in a semi-constant state of low-grade anxiety with spikes of heavy-duty angst? I had to do a great deal of self-soothing. Constantly being told I’m not “famous enough”, it was tempting to fall into childhood wounds: nobody cares how I feel, I’m not important, I have no value, I’m not enough.
I told myself over and over again, that I value me, I care about my feelings, I’m enough for me. I said it until I believed it. My self-esteem has arisen, my paradigm has shifted, and I realize how I feel about myself is far more important than that Emmy statuette. Although that would have been lovely too.
Let me know if you want to hear my acceptance speech.
BUT IT WAS PERFECT…
Last night I got an audition for today that fit in perfectly with my plans for the day, which is always lovely. When I looked at the appointment sheet my agent sent to me along with the sides, I got excited.
I was thrilled to see all the people I knew involved in the project: the series-regular male lead is an actor I once worked with on a different series, and we had a lot of fun; the child-series regular is the daughter of one of my closest friends; the director is a woman I’ve worked with as both an actor and a director, and we have great chemistry; the casting directors I’ve known almost my entire career – it was all perfect.
Then, best of all, I loved the character and sides. The humor they wanted was totally in my wheelhouse. When I started to work on the lines, I had it completely memorized in less than an hour because the writing was excellent. Couldn’t have been more perfect, right?
This morning my agent called, told me the session had been cancelled.
Apparently, the show had already been in negotiation with an actor and a deal had been reached. It’s not unusual, by the by, that casting sessions are set up just as a back up in case the producers are unable to get the actor they really want for the role.
But here’s the point of me writing all this: my reaction to this disappointing news was ssooo grown up and mature! I had about 30 seconds of disappointment, and then I was fine. I had relished the anticipation of going into the audition, and having it taken away from me? It did not diminish my enjoyment. Plus, I was really excited about the choice I’d made not to tell anyone in the room about all my connections with the people involved (because I have a tendency to talk too much). That, too, felt incredibly wise and mature.
Okay, so it’s taken me over 30 years to get where many actors arrive much more quickly: detachment. Finally, my sense of self-esteem, my sense of well-being, are no longer contingent on getting an audition, or even on getting the part. Getting the part is what I want, of course, what we all want. It’s not that I don’t care anymore, it’s that my having a good day is no longer determined by having a good audition – or even having an audition at all!
We all have so much passion, so many hopes, dreams, ambitions, a huge desire to be recognized and respected. We want to be chosen. We want to have an acting career, have no need to keep that “B” job, and to get the kind of roles that bring in money, recognition, and eventually choices.
But sometimes, often, it doesn’t happen the way we’d hoped and dreamed. Our careers don’t look at all like we’d imagined. BUT, and here’s the good news, that doesn’t mean we can’t have joy AND feel successful with whatever our careers do look like. We bring ALL of who we are to the table each and every time we audition. Personally, I had a lot of living to do to get to where I am. I also had a lot to learn about “not success” in order to truly understand “success” in a more meaningful and profound way.
I don’t have the career of my dreams. AND, I have an incredibly successful life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world. My career fits into my life, not the other way around. I am an actor. But it’s not the sum total of who I am. I’m also a wife, a mother, a writer, a homeowner, someone who works out, bakes bread, and coaches actors. I’m also a friend, bridge player, visual artist, seasonal decorator, an advocate, and I read to elementary school kids two mornings a week. Acting is what I do, much more than who I am.
And that, for me? That tastes like freedom today.
Be The Room Where It Happens
Like thousands (millions?) of others, count me among those blown away by Hamilton. For me, that musical was more than a play. It was an experience. I wept when the play ended and, weeks later, I still think on it. I was touched, moved, impressed, and completely inspired.
There’s a powerful song called The Room Where It Happens. Hamilton wants to be in that room. I posit that today, as artists, we can be the room where it happens. We have a magnificent role model for that in Lin Manuel Miranda.
Miranda read a book that moved him. He then took a biography of a seminal figure, an integral part of early American history (at least white peoples’ history) and had an idea, a vision. His take on that chunk of history became music and movement, and he told us a story that was mesmerizing. Would Hamilton be the phenomenon it is if there were a bunch of historically accurate white people up on that stage singing and dancing? I don’t think so. Why? I’m not sure, but hazarding a guess, I would say it was the fact that seeing these characters performed by actors of color makes us experience the story with fresh eyes, those historical figures become more relatable, more here and now, more interesting in the “what if “ realm of the imagination.
I know the word “genius” is bandied about like candy canes at Christmas, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Lin Manuel Miranda is one. However, if we break that word genius down, I think there are aspects of genius each of us possess, pieces we can water and grow.
INSPIRATION. What inspires you? If we’re going to be the room where it happens, that probably means the room didn’t exist before we became it. It’s thinking outside of the box, not coloring within the lines. I don’t think Miranda worries about the exact shape and structure of a musical. He gets inspired and creates something new, something we haven’t seen before. What is that in you? If there were no limitations – no worries about money, practicality, time, or resources – what story or idea excites and inspires you? What do you fantasize about? What vision can you imagine that’s not yet in the world?
CREATIVITY AND CONFIDENCE. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Miranda, but I’m guessing he doesn’t put any limitations on his imagination. He probably doesn’t worry whether his ideas fit in a formulaic structure, if it’s salable, if other people will judge him. I bet he has fun, feels free to manifest whatever he’s imagined. I’m betting his creative streak runs deep, fast and wide. And, with the success he’s had, he’s probably fairly confident that his creativity will be welcomed and rewarded. If you had the time, money, or energy necessary, what would you like to create? Maybe start small, something for friends and family. See if it works. Then grow it.
MESSAGE AND STORY. Do you ever see a movie, a play, or read an article or book, and think, “That’s not my experience, never happened that way for me.” So what’s your story? Tell the story you want to see, share, and experience. Maybe you need someone else to write it because you’re not a writer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a creator. We are creative people in an era where there are many platforms, abundant opportunities to perform and communicate, to be and tell the story that is within us. What do you want to say? What’s your message to the world? What niche do you fill that no one else can?
I went to my friends’ Michael and Andre’s wedding recently, and it was as much fun as I’ve ever had. Why? Because they completely thought outside of the box. After dinner, the room where we had watched them take their vows was filled with a bouncy castle so large it would not fit in my back yard. They came up with something that adults don’t often get to do – especially in gowns and tuxedos – which is jump up and down, fall, roll around, and laugh with joy. They created a magical, thoughtful, totally fun experience for all of their guests.
Give your imagination carte blanche. Think about the story you want to tell, the part you want to play, the series you’d like to be a part of. Remove limitations, get inspired, and allow creativity to blossom. Who knows where it will lead? You can’t possibly know until you give yourself permission to be the room where it happens.
GETTING “HOOKED”…AND UNHOOKED
Entering into the life of the “business of show” as I adorably like to call it these days, requires developing a specific toolset for your emotional well-being. I mean, seriously, you gotta do it. It’s a toolkit that is different for each and every one of us thespians because each of has different ways in which we get “hooked”.
What does “getting hooked” mean? It means that thing, that experience, audition or job, that comment by a “frenemy”, coach, agent, manager, teacher, casting director or even a well-meaning family member, that gets its claws into your psyche and won’t let go. I envision an actual fishhook. It grabs you, it hurts, and it won’t kill you as long as you get it out.
Why does this happen? I think it’s partly because we make our living in a way that, usually, involves us being vulnerable. In front of others. We are not hiding out in the background – the camera (or audience eyes) is on us. We put ALL of ourselves on the line, fully visible, so that when something unpleasant this way comes, our psyches are open. We are available to be hurt a little more than the average bear.
I “get hooked” by not getting a part I really, REALLY wanted to get and was convinced I had done SUCH a good job at the audition that NO ONE could POSSIBLY have done a better job. Then I don’t get that part. Then I get hooked.
Getting hooked for me means that I am triggered into childhood material. An old tape begins to play in my head and my heart: I’m less than, I’m not good enough, I’m a failure, it’s not fair, where’s mine, why, God, why? My tape is about feeling like a victim. I’m being victimized by the business of show.
It doesn’t happen very often – I mean, I’ve been doing this for a thousand years now, so it better not! But every now and then, one slips in and grabs me and I have to pick up my toolkit.
My tools for getting unhooked are the following:
. I neither diminish nor augment what I’m feeling. I don’t make this one experience an indictment of the horror of the entertainment industry. I don’t beat myself up because I’m feeling disappointed and a little sorry for myself. I own it. I experience it. I see it for what it is: a part I didn’t get that I wanted, not one I was entitled to.
Expressing my disappointment.I talk about it with my husband or a trusted friend. I write about it. I cry. I meditate.
Letting it go. I express my disappointment for a finite time period. I don’t talk about it endlessly with multiple parties. I get it out, I feel the feelings, and then I put a lid on it - time to put on my big-girl pants and move on.
I do have actor friends who don’t go through this. At all. They are healthier and more well-adjusted than I am, and I secretly hate them.
I have other actor friends who get hooked by completely different things: a director who wouldn’t let them have that third take; a part that was bigger in the audition than it was on the set; feeling judged by fellow actors; feeling envious of another actor with a “better” career; never feeling that what they did was good enough.
Those things don’t hook me. Not today. What hooks you? Do you ever get caught by something that hurts you or makes you angry? What tools do you use?
I have heard for most of my life that the hallmark of emotional sobriety is living with unresolved conflicts. There are so much of show business that is not explained, resolved, or smooth sailing. There are tons of traps, triggers, pitfalls, and looming disappointments and letdowns. We have to be emotionally supple and flexible. In addition to taking classes and learning about the business side of show business, part of your job is to maintain your emotional well-being. Keep that toolset handy!
“WHAT’S THE CALLTIME FOR THE COACH?”
After 33 years of working as “actress “ each and every time I set foot on a set, my job title this week was “coach”. It’s been illuminating in ways I want to pass on to you.
Here’s how this happened: a good friend of mine, a successful actor, gets hired by television shows to coach the young actors on the set. He booked an acting job this week and recommended me to take his place for the 13-year old actor he currently coaches.
I’ve coached actors on the “business of the business” and I’ve coached actors for auditions, but I’d never done this. I’d never walked onto a set and been expected to watch a young actor for ten hours and work with him on his lines, give him suggestions and encouragement, help him understand what’s going on in the scene and how to stay present when listening as well as speaking.
And yes, I’ve made a couple of mistakes. Like, making a suggestion to the young actor and having the director immediately tell him not to do that. I copped to the director right away that that was on me, and have found a way to check in with him about what he wants without being intrusive. I’m walking a fine line, being present and doing my job without getting in the way and asking annoying questions.
Here’s what I’ve learned as an actor:
- Being part of the “crew” is not the same as being “talent”. You get treated far better when you’re talent. As coach, there’s no chair for me, I have to find my own perch! Yesterday, freezing to death, I asked the wardrobe person if I could have a coat. He told me they were out of coats, maybe he could get me a robe. It didn’t happen. I ended up borrowing a jacket from the dolly grip. I know if my job title was talent, I would have gotten a coat!
- As an actor, I don’t spend much time at video village. As crew, that was my spot. As crew, I’ve been privy to all manner of conversation I don’t hear when I’m talent. Listening to what is going on from the director’s perspective, the producer’s, the star of the show, the script supervisor, the writer, and the DP, was fascinating. What they need or want in any given moment is not necessarily what we’re experiencing as performers.
- The single most revealing part of this process? Watching the actors perform over and over in the monitors at video village. Seeing how we shine, how we get in our own way, how we annoy the heck out of the folks at video village, was so enlightening. The writer-producers-director need a very specific beat that we don’t understand because we, as actors, are in the moment, and they, as writer-producers-director, are looking at the whole picture in a way that we can’t. Once again, I was reminded how impersonal it all is. They’re not really paying attention to “us”. They’re attending to the story, the suits, the arc of the show, and getting the exact color they need.
This show is funny, not yet on the air. The kid is a pro, having been acting for most of his life. The set is easy and relaxed, the vibe is confident – a pickup for the back nine is expected. This was a great gig, and I am ever-so-grateful for what I learned this week.
I’m also very clear that I prefer being an actor!
A couple of Mondays ago, I had a very empowering experience with creative energy and the concept of “enoughness”. Interestingly, it was not my creative energy. It was the creativity that was surrounding me.
One of my favorite “TV daughters” asked if she could shoot in my home, a short she’d written and was directing, her calling card to try and get into the AFI Women’s Directing program. I said yes, of course, and that Monday morning 15 film people arrived at 8:00 in the morning.
Having had shoots in my home before, I usually absent myself. But this was different, and I parked myself at the kitchen table, making myself available for questions or needs that I knew would come up. They did. I bounced around most of the day getting this, finding that, coming up with little props that were needed, moving things that were in the way, and so on. By the end of the day, I had myself a producer credit!
At 7:00 I left to go to my writer’s group, which meets Monday nights at AFI. I was neither acting nor writing, but I got there early to coordinate which rooms each of the three scenes were rehearsing in and to be there in case an actor couldn’t make it, and I needed to fill in. Everyone showed up, and I sat by myself in the hallway for an hour listening to all the creative energy going on around me. From the three rooms came laughter, shouting, crying, talking, men and women expressing themselves fully.
I was both moved and overwhelmed by how incredibly satisfying and fulfilling it was to be surrounded by creative energy for 12 hours. I wasn’t doing anything particularly creative myself, but I felt proud to be living a life wherein creativity is all around me. Just breathing it all day made me feel this incredible aliveness, head to toe. I felt the enoughness of that.
I thought, if I could feel this fulfilled being surrounded by creative energy, why wasn’t having a great audition and NOT booking the part enough? If I write a scene that is imperfect, but I put my all into it, can’t I find the part of me that feels satisfied by having existed for a few hours in the creative state?
I realized it doesn’t really matter what it is I’m doing. If I make a scrapbook of our trip to Italy, write a beautiful thank you card to a friend, redecorate a wall in a room, put together a fabulous outfit for the day, if I’m being creative, that’s fulfilling. Coming up with a yummy dessert for my family, buying a friend the perfect present, participating in a friend’s reading of her screenplay – ALL of that is creative! And it’s enough.
I equate creativity with aliveness. If I’m creating, then I’m living. The “results” of that creativity are almost irrelevant. It’s the ACT of creativity that nurtures our artists’ souls. And by golly, just for today, that’s enough for me.
WHEN YOU DON’T BOOK THE JOB, WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE DISAPPOINTMENT IF YOU DON’T DRINK OR TAKE DRUGS?
So recently something happened to, actually for, me: I booked three jobs in two days! And one of them was a straight offer!! In a 30 plus year career, that’s never happened, so I was totally stoked.
I finished one the day before Thanksgiving, and the other two are concurrent, taking me right up to the week before Christmas. The production companies have worked out the schedules and it’s been a bit exhausting but really fun. My adrenaline is flowing.
Yesterday, I got an audition for a Major Network Television Sitcom. Amazingly, the dates worked perfectly with my schedule, and the show would tape the night before I go back for my last two days on the movies.
Kismet, I’m thinking! This is perfect, what an AWESOME way to end the year, four jobs in a month!! (Imagine all sorts of emogis right here.)
I went into that audition confident but not cocky, assured of my fate yet humble. I was a joy to be around in that waiting room, making all of the other actors laugh who weren’t going to book this job.
In the audition room, I was stellar. This baby was mine. I left happy. They’d call by 6:00. At 7:30, when I know my agents have already left the office, I realized I hadn’t booked it. I did not get the job that started today.
Okay. Alright. Ouch. That stings. Damn it. Why, God, why didn’t I get that part?? I was perfect for it. They loved me. I thought it was meant to be.
I’m sure you’ve all met actors – maybe you even are one – who say, “Once I walk out of that audition room, I’m done. I never think about it again.”
Yeah, okay. And now you’re going to tell me your mother’s your best friend and you forget to eat on a regular basis. We are not from the same solar system.
I don’t have trouble preparing for a part, the waiting room (mostly) doesn’t psych me out, I usually love the actual auditioning, but I hate the “after” part. I hate the “I hope I get it, will they call, I really, really want this one” part. I wish the casting directors would have us stay until the last person auditioned and tell us right then who got the part. (Every actor I’ve auditioned with for lo these many years feels the same way.)
But that’s how it works. You have to wait. And hope and wish and pray and try not to think about it while your heart skips a beat every time the phone rings, really wanting to hear your agent’s voice on the other end of the line.
Thirty years of mostly not getting the job – which is kind of the nature of show biz for most of us – have taught me a few things about coping with disappointment:
I no longer call my agent to ask them to ask the casting director what’s going on, or for feedback.Here’s the feedback:I didn’t get the part.
I don’t beat myself up because I get disappointed.It just is.
I do with the feelings, other than pretend they’re not there or just push them down.Today, I’m writing this article.Sometimes I cry.Or meditate.Write an angry letter to Spirit.Take myself out to a movie.Do a little retail therapy.Talk about it with a friend.Go for a hike.Make a gratitude list.Eventually, though, without fail, I let it go and move on.
Sometimes I can process and be done with it in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it takes a few days of feeling that sting. Disappointment is one of my least favorite emotions and yet my constant companion as I trudge the show biz trail. Even though I hate the feeling, I have made peace with it.
But if I didn’t feel disappointment when not getting a part I really wanted? I’ve either truly become a Zen master or it’s time to hang it up. In a business that’s about having and expressing the thoughts and feelings of a character, you, the actor, have to deal with all of them.
IF YOU'RE THE SEED,
ARE YOU PLANTED IN THE RIGHT SOIL?
I was speaking with a client today who just got back from another city after being the lead in a work-shopped play she loved doing. This, after a play she did last fall on the east coast that was one of the highlights of her career. On the way home from play #2, her airplane seatmate was, coincidentally, the artistic director of One-Of-The-Biggest-Repertory-Theatres-In-The-Country. They had a wonderful conversation for several hours, and she got to go into great detail about the merits of both plays. He took notes.
“So what is your plan to get work now that you’re home, in terms of television guest roles and commercials?” I asked her.
Her energy sagged. She spoke softly about the lack of opportunities here, her frustration with ineffective representation, a dearth of auditions, the feeling that every time she takes one of these plays out of town, her agents have to be reminded she’s one of their clients. We talked a little about what she could do, came up with a few steps she can take to get in the audition doors, but there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
“So these strategies we’re discussing for getting more auditions for guest spots on TV shows – is this something you want to be doing, or something you think you should be doing?” I queried.
She thought for a moment. “It’s a should.”
“Could you, happily, make your living doing theatre the rest of you life?”
“YES!” she said, her face lit up, the answer out of her mouth before I finished asking the question.
During this presidential election cycle, one word has come up, over and over: authenticity. There are two candidates, one on each side, who have captured a great deal of energy, money and support because they are perceived as authentic. Authenticity resonates.
Are you being artistically authentic, doing what you truly want to be doing? Forget, for a moment, what you should be doing, what you hope will happen in the future, or any regrets you have about what’s not happening now. Forget whether or not your dream is “practical”. Right now, how would you like to be spending your time and energy? If showbiz was your oyster, if wishes were dishes and horses could fly, where would you be putting your energy right now?
Energy begets energy. What you put out there, with passion and consistency, comes back to you. We’re not in control of when or what form it takes – that’s hard to predict – but your energetic investment is returned to you.
“Would you like to be the lead in a series that’s built around you?” I asked my client. “Not a guest star or co-star, but a series regular, the star of the show?”
“Well, yeah,” she said, “who wouldn’t?”
Here’s the thing: this woman is beautiful enough, talented enough, and young enough that, that happening? Not out of the realm of possibility.
If you’re the seed, the kernel of creativity, art, truth, and light that emanates from your core, if you’re being your authentic self and your life is not yet manifesting your dreams, maybe you’re not planted in soil that’s fertile enough for you.
My client is now thinking about her show. She’s going to be talking about it with all her creative friends, her improv group, her best friend who writes on a sit com. Energy begets energy. You put it out there, it comes back. Maybe she won’t be the star of a show, but I can promise you, her trajectory will shift as she plants her dreams in more high-yielding, nutrient rich soil.
By the by, I don’t think it was a coincidence that artistic director was sitting next to her on the plane. That part of her life is “happening” because, there, she’s authentically happy and artistically fulfilled. And, ultimately, isn’t that what we all want?
WHAT WORKED THIS YEAR?
The end of the year – or the beginning of a new one – is a great time to Review and Assess, and then Set Your Intentions for 2015, both as a person and as a professional performer. Without this time-honored process, it’s almost impossible to align with your (higher) self and turn Dreams into Goals.
Review and Assess: Two sheets of paper. On one write, “What Worked in 2014”, and on the other write, “What Didn’t Work in 2014”. Don’t limit the lists to just career achievements (or not achievements). Look at everything – health, love life, family relationships, living situation, exercise, keeping commitments to yourself and others, time management, adventures, having fun, friendships, emotional well being, spiritual fitness, financial stability – consider the whole package, every aspect of your life. What did you do this past year? Or not do? Put each item on one of the two lists. AND, there may be a few things that go on both lists. We have to be able to hold the polarities - few facets of life are not, on some level, both assets and liabilities.
After you make the lists, walk away for a day, or at least a few hours. When you come back to see what you’ve written, review it with a discerning eye. Look for patterns. Are all the things that worked in one area of your life? Is most of what didn’t work related to poor time management? Are most of your disappointments related to a lack of self-esteem? Or too much entitlement? Are the things that worked more or less important to you than the ones that didn’t work? See what you can garner from the lists. You may want to write about it – pray, meditate, talk to someone you trust, whatever works for you – and see if there’s anything there that informs the next part of this process.
Intentions for 2015: Based on what you’ve just discovered about what worked and didn’t work this past year, how do you go about setting intentions that are both realistic and yet inspirational for 2015? If one of the “not working” things was the fact that you only had five auditions this year and no jobs, perhaps it would not be “real” to set your cap for 50 auditions, starring in a film, and becoming a series regular on a hit Showtime series. That can be a dream, but what’s a more realistic yet challenging goal? Pick your numbers, the specific goals your want to realize. Do you need new representation in order to achieve that goal? What do you need to do this month, this week, this day, to make it happen?
I’m a big believer in victories. I always tell the people I coach, don’t make commitments to
yourself you’re not going to keep. We can encourage ourselves to do more when we feel the pride of having accomplished what we said we were going to do. If I tell myself I’m going to write for 20 hours this week and only get in six, I’m going to be disappointed. If I commit to ten hours and write for 12, I’m going to feel fantastic! Proud! MOTIVATED TO DO MORE!!!
The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan and a deadline. You can do this. Just break it all down into bite-sized pieces and make those dreams come true, one commitment at a time. Bon chance!
I have just been emancipated from my need for others’ approval!! I had an epiphany, a profound realization about my relationship with self-value.
A couple of months ago, I had a friend end our 17-year friendship over something I felt was entirely resolvable. It both baffled me and broke my heart. She recently wrote an email saying she wanted to pick up an item she’d left at my home. I emailed back and asked, “May we have a conversation at that time?” She replied no. I then spent most of a sleepless night composing this email to her:
“Is this a lifetime banishment, complete radio silence forever?
Does 17-years of friendship, 17-years of shared holidays, laughter, games, theatrical endeavors, meaningful conversations, hospital visits, lunches, parties, road trips, and adventures in nature garner me one more face-to-face conversation with you?”
It’s not a bad email. I don’t shame or blame her. There’s nothing grossly inappropriate about what I’m saying. But when I got up the next morning and typed it out, I realized what I was doing: I was trying to convince her of my value. I was trying to prove to my friend that I was worthy.
Like the sun breaking free of the clouds, it dawned on me that I don’t need anyone in my life who doesn’t know and appreciate my value. I want friends who cherish, respect, and treasure me, and about whom I feel the same way.
As actors, we are in a business where, essentially, every time we audition and don’t get the part, we are told that we are not valued. When that agent doesn’t want to represent us or lets us go, we have no value to them. When our manager doesn’t fight for us to get in the door, then they don’t value us enough. Every time we don’t get the callback or get to read for the larger part we think we’re right for, another chink is taken out of our value.
After a while, all that lack of value can be depressing as hell. How can you not feel self-doubt? We start to buy into the belief that we’re not enough, or worse, there is something wrong with us. Eventually, we have to fight like crazy not to spiral all the way down.
So what is the antidote?
Clearly, when we are not feeling valued in our lives, we have to counteract it by valuing ourselves with all our might. If I am feeling unloved or unlovable, then I have to ask myself, “What would I do right now if I really loved myself? What action could I take to feel my own self-worth?”
There’s an old saying: We can never think ourselves into right action. But we can act ourselves into right thinking. Here are some of my proactive ploys:
I never go down into the abyss – the Dark Museum of Disappointment, Loss, Shame and Regret – without a bungee cord tied around my waist. I make sure all my Misery is right where I left it, then I pull on the bungee cord and pop back up. In other words: visitation only. Don’t live there. Sometimes I use a timer so I don’t stay too long!
I do something I’m good at, something I can be proud of. For me, it’s working on a piece of stained glass or collaging something, anything. Maybe for you it’s writing a song, singing one, gardening, painting, sewing, fixing something, visiting a friend, being of service, making a meal, or eating a wonderful treat. It doesn’t matter – just take an action that makes you feel good about who you are.
I make a gratitude list. I just stop what I’m doing and I write down all the people, places and things in my life that I’m grateful for. It shifts me into a better place. Rinse, then repeat at regular intervals.
Car screaming. Get in your car and scream at all those miserable S.O.B.’s who don’t appreciate you. Give them a piece of your mind! Release all that frustration in a safe space where there will be no repercussions.
Affirmations. Writing. Visualization. Prayer. Take the time to imagine what it is you want, then write it out, visualize it, and pray on it (or whatever that looks like to you). Remind yourself of all the value and worth you have for you.
None of these things is “the” answer. But some, or all of them combined, can really help. Used in conjunction with your own brilliant, self-affirming, self-loving ideas, you may even cure what ails you when your value meter is low!
IT’S. NOT. PERSONAL.
I was about ten minutes late for the audition to begin with, and when I walked into the casting office, it was empty. “Where is everybody?” I asked in a small, scared voice. When I was informed that the audition had moved to WB – a fifteen-minute drive followed by a ten-minute walk from whichever gate you enter – my heart sank. By the time I got to the new audition site (a sheen of sweat covering my body) not only was there no one waiting in this lobby, there was no one in the producer’s room currently auditioning! The producers were waiting for me. Oy, I thought: the kiss of (expletive) death.
I got the job.
About two weeks later I walked into another producer’s session and from the minute I said hello, I was their gal. They practically told me I had the part before I left the room. Again, I got the job.
Before and after these two auditions are many, many, MANY auditions after which I am not their gal. My high-caliber acting, choices, talent, and engaging personality are present for all of these auditions. What gives?
Getting the job or not getting the job is not personal. Repeat. Those producers picking us or not picking us has very little to do with us.
We live in a town wherein the people who hire us have a choice between Midnight Blue or Indigo. Do I, Powerful Producer, want a redhead with her hair parted on the left, or a strawberry-blonde with bangs? Am I in the mood for chocolate or chocolate mousse yogurt? You get the idea. It’s a buyers market.
The trick for us, artists with fervent passion, enormous talent, and high hopes, is to do the best job we possibly can and then walk away, head held high. We must learn to let go of the results. It is sssooo not personal.