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Don’t Do It All on Your Own

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Madeline MerrittYour “to do” list is probably a mile long. It has old crumbly objectives from years ago such as: make a web-series! Create a mailing list with all my industry contacts and send out regular email updates! Build a website! Target casting directors based on my “type” who are known to cast new talent! Collaborate with a mostly or completely female cast and crew! Start my production company! Get new headshots that I LOVE! Lose five pounds! Figure out every important person in Hollywood and memorize them so I can sound REALLY on top of it at my next agency meeting!

The ISSUE is that day to day, week to week, month to month the daily REALITIES of pursuing your career/living your life can interfere with the long term goals that tend to ALWAYS be pushed to the back of the list. The problem is: all those crumbly, dusty, old, forgotten to-dos are ACTUALLY REALLY F-ING IMPORTANT. They are the things that separate those that are successful biz-women from those that had a lot of potential but could never seem to make anything happen. And if you have made it far enough to figure out an income that supports your passion and despite all the odds are insistent on pursuing your dream, and can’t imagine doing anything else in the world, you are probably really responsible by nature. You are a hustler, and are great at being on time and putting in more effort than most. What’s tricky is, as an actor/creator it’s not the same type of responsibility as showing up for a scheduled shift. Your to-do lists exist all the time, and the only person you are reporting to is yourself…

UNLESS you create a network you are responsible to. And here is where I will tell you a major secret of success in this industry: YOU CANNOT ONLY BE RESPONSIBLE TO YOURSELF. If you get a 4 am call time, YOU WILL BE THERE (an entire cast and crew is depending on you). So give yourself the same level of responsibility on goals that SEEM completely personal. And this is where female dynamics can be so helpful for career outcomes. I am letting you in on a big secret here: commit to a group of women that you share your career goals with, make declarations with them, and honor deadlines. Take the responsibility and share it with other women. Create a group that stands for each other and holds each other responsible for fulfilling the goals we have set for ourselves. Meet regularly and be honest.

Suddenly you HAVE that group of women you want to make the web-series with. Now you have feedback in terms of what types of roles you fit, and which casting directors you should be targeting. Suddenly the resources that you think you know of are expanded, because everyone brings new resources and advice to the table. Now you are fulfilling two incredibly satisfying positions: you are teaching as well as learning each and every time you meet.

So: make an accountability group. Share your secrets, make everyone’s success a goal for the group. Become accountable, and stay on top of your priorities. Don’t do it on your own: make education, gutsy moves, and honest feedback a part of your career. Develop trust and collaboration with women for the benefit of all. Do not try to make it on your own. The journey is so much more fun as a group.

Madeline Merritt

About Madeline Merritt

Actress, Freelance Writer - Madeline grew up on stage and has loved telling stories her whole life. From the Bay Area, California, Madeline received her degree in Theatre and Political Science from Northwestern University and moved to Los Angeles in 2008. She recently spent a year in Paris, France but missed the city of Angels and the entertainment industry here. She cares deeply about social issues, including women’s rights, indigenous rights, poverty and the environment. She feels the role of storyteller through entertainment is very important in opening dialogue and creating change in the world. You can see her in The Guest House (available on Netflix, Itunes, Amazon and Time Warner on Demand) and the soon to be released American Idiots, coming to a Redbox near you in June 2013. She is thrilled to continue her journey of collaborating with women in film and television through Ms. In the Biz.