“Don’t be discouraged; be patient. Enjoy the process. Don’t tell people how old you are! Never burn bridges! Be prepared to struggle! Never turn work down!” And the list goes on and on.
I know, I know. You’ve probably heard these and many other statements a million times, right? Right. We all have, and until very recently, it went where so many other encouraging statements have gone…in one ear and out the other. Not because I didn’t think they were important but because throughout my years of living in LA, I sometimes feel like I am so bombarded by “helpful” and “encouraging” advice, that I was choosing to let it overwhelm me to the point of suffocation. Can I get an AMEN?!
So, in an effort to help you avoid feeling the way so many of us feel or have felt, or the need for [more]therapy, here are some helpful tidbits that I found soothing to the soul, in pursuit of a life in entertainment.
Opinions are like….yeah, we all know how that saying goes AND IT’S TRUE! EVERYONE has an opinion; good, bad and yes, UGLY. So how do you know what opinions are “right” or “wrong”? You don’t. Right and wrong are all just a matter of personal perception anyway, in my opinion, so the only way to really know if someone’s opinion will be helpful to you is to do your research. For example, if someone tells you that an acting coach is “amazing” or “terrible”, don’t jump to join his/her class or be turned off from taking a class. What works/doesn’t work for someone else, may/may not work for you. Consider taking opinions at face value and maybe instead, discover how you feel about it for yourself. Same goes for people. Even though it is out of your control, you probably don’t like being judged by people you have never met based on an experience someone else had. So, I always make it a point to base my opinions, on my own personal experiences. I also believe in following your instincts. If your gut is telling you something, there is always a reason.
Speaking of your gut, follow it. Think of it like a built in alarm system that is there to help you. Whether it alerts you while you are meeting with a potential agent or manager, or as you are talking to a director in an audition, pay close attention to what it might be saying to you. Most of the time, your intuition is on point but sometimes, I have noticed that when I am nervous or out of my element, it tends to go into warp speed and can give me mixed signals. In those situations, I would say, try something that I recently adopted; take a moment and sort out the facts from your feelings. (Thanks Dallas Travers!) You will be much more able to make a choice based on the actual situation rather than based off of emotions. Save the drama for the screen/stage people!
Trial and error-try it. Why the heck not! Say someone such as an acting coach or casting director tells you that they think you aren’t the leading lady/man type. You have a few choices; A) Believe them and adopt their way of thinking only ever looking into roles suited to your non-leading type , B) Cry yourself to sleep every night reminiscing of the thousands of times you’ve practiced your Oscar acceptance speech for your dream leading man/lady roll or C) Take it with a grain of salt and break out of the box that everyone seems to want to place you in. It’s all up to you, but if you ask me, I’d go with C. You’ll be surprised if you choose to face any and all challenges head on, with an open mind, how confident you will feel. Problems become challenges and obstacles become something you can handle much easier. After all, the worst thing that can happen is that you actually learn something about yourself and although it may not be the lesson you anticipated, it is a lesson none the less. Growth is always a good thing.
Rejection. It will happen over and over, NO MATTER HOW TALENTED YOU ARE. But it’s OK! No doesn’t mean no forever and failure is inevitable. This is not my advice, this is fact and has been my experience, thus far. I have been told no so much, that when I hear a yes it takes a second for it to sink in, LOL! I have fallen flat on my face more times than I have time to explain in this 1,000 word article and guess what? I STILL DO; constantly! And anyone who says they don’t, are just plain full of it. EVERYONE fails, at one point or another and the more you let go of fear of failure, the better off you will be. TRUST ME. Patience really is a virtue as impatient of a person as I am, everything will happen the way it’s supposed to. It’s always best to prepare and to be prepared for opportunity when it comes, instead of getting an opportunity and not being prepared. Just sayin’.
And last but certainly not least, the “Age issue”. Dun, dun, dun! To be honest, I was FINE with my age…..that is until I moved to L.A.- only then was I told to be ashamed of how old I was and then advised, mostly by women, that I should NEVER tell anyone. True story. Then my coach told me, “Your age is part of who you are, embrace it!” Simple as it was, she was right. So on that note, I say, be proud of who you are, how old you are, how flawed you are.. All. Of. It.
But then again, that’s just my opinion.
What’s some advice you received upon moving to L.A. or N.Y.C?