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Sometimes No Means Yes

June 21, 2012

I hit a point within the last two years where I realized the power of “no.” Starting out, I think we actors need to do pretty much anything we can. We need to do student films, non-union, non-paying theatre and crazy performance art. We need to make connections with new young filmmakers (even though most of them won’t pan out). We need to be on stage and learn about theater lingo, curtain times and not to touch props that aren’t ours. We need experience in a business where there really is no right way to do anything. We need to become “professionals.” So the question is, when are you a “professional?” Are you ever? What the heck does “professional” mean anyway? Is Charlie Sheen and his ridiculousness a professional actor? How about Jeremy Piven and his sushi “allergy?” Is Lindsey Lohan a pro because she gets paid to, uh what does she get paid for nowadays exactly anyway?

I said yes to everything, because, well who was I to say no? But now, now I say NO!. I don’t say it that often and I probably still don’t say it often enough, but  I have reached a point where I can really look back and evaluate if  a project is worth my time and if there is anything in it for me. No one is the same and I feel that every one of us has to make this choice on his/her own, so please don’t think I am setting up any kind of criteria for which to measure your own career choices. I am simply saying that for me, I don’t blanket-ly accept any offer I am presented with. Perhaps it’s due to my getting older or just that I value my talent and time that much more now, but it is quite empowering to really take control of my career, rather than letting it run me as I did for the previous 5 or so years. Here is a vague-ish rundown of my process.

1) Does it pay?

2) Is it a role I want to do?

3) Is it a project that is new or exciting to me and could be groundbreaking?

If I say yes to any of those I probably say yes to the project. Of course this isn’t set in stone and sometimes I’ll still turn down a paying gig (albeit rarely), but for instance if it takes me out of town for too long a period (I am getting married and have two cats I can’t live without more than a week at a time). Or if the role is great but the commitment takes me away from other opportunities or takes up too much of my time.  The big key here is realizing that saying NO to one project keeps me open to other opportunities that may come up during that time. It’s great to work and always be doing something, but lately I have found if I am going to work for free (which is often the case) why do someone else’s showcase production when I can work on my own webseries and/or solo show. Of course, if you don’t write or have any interest in it, this post may be irrelevant all together. But I believe all of us in this business have stories to tell, and I have found I am beginning to prioritize mine over others. Course maybe I’m just turning into more of a writer than I thought I was? Oh well, I’m not complaining, after all saying “no” this past winter to two things may have  been what’s gotten me to this post in the first place.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. California Triple-Threat permalink
    June 22, 2012 4:14 pm

    I’ve been facing this more and more as I mature as a performer. It’s empowering! Congrats to you finding the courage to say NO!

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