In Hollywood, when in the throws of a passion project, the greatest thrill of all Hollywood hopefuls is getting the green light. This means either a committee of high-up execs or the CEO or COO from the Big Six (the major studios in Hollywood like Fox, Warner Brothers, Disney) or the mini- majors (like Lionsgate or The Weinstein Company) give the go-ahead for your project to be financed and proceed to production. When this happens, pop open the bubbly because you’re in the Big Leagues now!!
In life, though, all too often, we wait for others to give us permission to begin…anything. We wait for validation, for a green light, from outside sources to allow us to proceed with our dreams, to be ourselves, to create great art, to grow. Women, especially, struggle to launch ourselves into the Big Leagues because we’re waiting for someone, anyone, to give us permission. We make other people — parents, mentors, friends, partners — the CEO’s in charge of green-lighting our lives. This causes our projects to be stuck in the perfect, unadulterated state of our minds, and our lives and careers to be trapped in limbo.
Newsflash! If you’re waiting for someone else to give you the green light, you may be waiting for forever. You don’t need permission from anyone except yourself to get your dreams into the production phase.
Give yourself the permission to be yourself. Know who you are and what you want to put out in the world. You don’t have to be a gritty drama girl, if you prefer lighthearted comedies. Screw being “well-rounded,” and give yourself permission to be pigeonholed…and then rock that niche! Your authentic self is far better than any artfully crafted caricature of you.
Give yourself permission to evolve. Just because you were once the Shakespeare-quoting, drama nerd, doesn’t mean you have to stay spouting sonnets in community theater for the rest of your career. It’s natural to grow, to change, to adapt as you experience more of what life…and this crazy Hollywood business…have to offer. If you don’t like your career’s direction, change it! You’re the Queen of your life. Explore new areas of your industry. Intern as a script reader or a casting assistant. Audition for a short that lets you explore your humorous side without much risk.
Most importantly, though, give yourself permission to be happy. There’s no point to doing the Hollywood hustle if you’re miserable. The reason we all dream is that we believe that where we are going will make us happier than where we are now. Give yourself permission to enjoy the journey. Sure, there are s*** sandwiches we have to nosh on from time to time in this biz — waiting tables to pay the rent, going fi-core for a nonunion Disney job, a name actor passing on your brilliant screenplay, sleepless pre-production nights, sketchy people who pass themselves off as “producers.” But overall, you should be lovin’ the ride! If you’re upset with the Hollywood hustle, it’s totally cool if you need to switch your groove up a bit. Ultimately, you are in charge of your happiness. It’s your choice. Surround yourself with people you love to create with, who inspire you. If the Hollywood scene ain’t your thing, but you still want to be in entertainment, move! Atlanta, New Orleans, Vancouver, and Albuquerque are all hot local hire markets. If your current path is not making you happy, remember, you have permission to evolve. Life’s too short to not love what, who, and where you’re doing your thing.
And, if you really need permission from someone, here you go…
I give you permission to succeed. To thrive. To abundantly create. To be authentically you. I give you permission to chase your dreams, reach for the stars. Now, go forth and strut into the green light!