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Advice from Lady Chablis/Apologies to the Howards

October 8, 2012

A few years ago, I received a grant from a foundation based in my small hometown in Pennsylvania. It was for a theatre project I was doing with local school kids in the area and was backed by two other grants already (a state and national grant.) This local foundation grant, though was, the icing on the cake… allowing me to make sure we had awesome costumes and props, and pay for our gas as we drove from school to school.

The foundation is a well-respected institution in the area and always publishes in the local media, news of their grant recipients. I was honored and proud to work with them, and thrilled to stand in that awkward way, smiling as they handed me a check while a news photographer snapped pictures.

But being a small town, I should have guessed what would happen next….

“Well, it must be nice to know so-and-so, on the foundation. She only got that grant because she knows so-and-so,” is what I heard some people said.

Yes, in full disclosure, I do know some people on the grant committee. Did I mention that it’s a small town? Everyone knows people on that committee. I don’t think a single grant recipient could be free from that “stigma.” But did I get the grant because I know people? No.

First of all, like with nearly all grant-making bodies, the grant-requesters remain anonymous during voting. Secondly, it was a darn good project, that had already had received grants from state and national foundations, so I know this wasn’t a fluke.

But did that accusation sting? Yes, it sure did. Did it make me feel ashamed, even though there was no truth to it? Yes. And though it was a couple of years ago, I still think about it, and feel bad.

I have a friend who, when I am obsessing about things that mean nothing, quotes Lady Chablis from the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” “Two tears in a bucket, mother-f*&k it.” Indeed, good advice.

But what I think I need more is a little dose of my own medicine… I mean, instead of worrying about what other people have said about me, I will worry about what I say about others, and try to catch myself from doing the same small-town gossip mongering that I encountered.

For example, I was recently at a film festival, where a short no-budget film I star in was screened with a short huge-budget film made by Bryce Dallas Howard (ie, for one shot they mounted the camera to a helicopter.) What did I find myself saying, “hmm… must be nice to be Ron Howard’s daughter so people will give you all the money you want for your film.”

Ouch. Not cool. And not even true…I know she has to work hard. Why did I say it? Frankly, I was jealous of her film and wanted to disparage her because of that. Attractive quality, right? Nice.

When you think about it, I was doing the same to Ms. Howard as Small-Town-Gossip-Mongers did to me. (except, I doubt the Howards lost any sleep over it!)

But I guess what I’m saying is that in pursuing this career, we will always encounter people who are jealous of our success…… and guess what…. We will also find ourselves jealous of others.

So for me, I am making a pact to try to catch myself from having a small-town mind when it comes to others’ success, and celebrate the fact that success exists! And in the meantime, I hope that helps me shake it off when people are jealous of mine.

And finally, darn it, I’m going to apply for another grant from that foundation because I’ve got a pretty brilliant idea for a local radio play. Mother-f*%k it.

For further atonement, I give you the Bryce Dallas Howard film. Darn, it is really beautiful. You go girl!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. California Triple-Threat permalink
    October 8, 2012 11:37 pm

    Way to go! It’s hard to support others when we feel we deserve their success more than they do… but it’s so important to do if we want to have a healthy outlook on our own success.

  2. The Growing Artist permalink
    October 10, 2012 2:15 pm

    Great post! I can definitely relate, having come from a small town as well. I am guilty of this kind of thinking in the past. I agree with California Triple-Threat’s comment- it’s good that you are trying to have a healthy outlook! I try to do the same, although it is sometimes hard.

  3. October 11, 2012 9:18 am

    This is such a great reminder. I am totally guilty of this small-minded thinking and would like to stop!


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