Photo by Debra Lopez
How do you deal with walking into an audition room and seeing all the actors who always book the job sitting there? What to do when you start comparing yourself to others?
Did you ever think to yourself?
Where I am right now really sucks, but I have no idea how to move from point A to point B?
I've been there and I'm there right now in my personal life struggling with issues that have been kicking my butt since the beginning of time.
I talk beaucoup s**t about self-development only because it's a process I am constantly struggling with myself.
Hence, I love teaching folks stuff I've struggled with ...
and am still struggling with.
An award-winning actress who I personally admire and who is a fierce transformative force of nature on stage recently asked me,
**"How do you handle auditions when you arrive and really great actors are sitting in the waiting room and immediately, your confidence shatters, falls to pieces and you begin comparing yourself to them?"**
I laughed and said...yeah...don't i know it...
I spent 4 weeks trying on super expensive Donna Karan dresses (cuz her dresses are the only thing that looks like wonder woman clothes on me with my new generous curves ...lol)...
My personal pilot season strategy is to find the killer outfit, killer hair and banging audition technique. I mean high end killer outfit....find my size and then try and find it cheaper on consignment, ebay, amazon, etc. So I went and tried on $3000 peices of clothing and found the right audition pilot season outfits.
It took a lot of time like 4 months, well, mostly because I don't have a $3000 budget, more like a $100 budget...ha!. It was sorta amazing going into stores and trying on clothes that are far beyond what I could afford. The quality of a Donna Karan dress ( I mean runway, baby, like the Urban Zen Collection) is extraordinary.
There's something really powerful about trying on something that represents where you want to be, not where you are.
See, because you can't move from where you are right now
unless you can imagine very clearly where you want to be...
So, I spent many sleepless nights looking for my Donna Karan dress It paid off...I found the same $2700 dress I tried on for:
And you know I wore the bejesus out of that dress....booked a job in it too!
Do you want to know why?
Because my family and I paid (and still paying) for a $2million education (that would currently cost closer to $5million) for prep school, college and grad school. All of this was done while living in the hood and working multiple jobs. (We're Caribbean, we each had 15 jobs, fa'real)
I worked in the regions non-stop for 6 years and made less than $400 a week for a very, very long time. I worked on off broadway for $200/week for another 6 years. I paid my dues and learned how to own a stage. I'm done starving. I've earned the right to make a living as an artist doing the kind of work worthy of my journey...I deserve to be making the kind of money that will pay for that education and then some...(I got to buy my Mama a house, dammit)
Please repeat that last sentence outloud:
_I have paid my dues and learned how to own a stage. _
_I'm done starving. _
_I've earned the right to make a living as an artist doing the kind of work worthy of my journey..._
_I deserve to be making the kind of money that will pay for that education and then some...(I got to buy my Mama a house, dammit)_
And keep saying it until you believe it.
Set goals whose success is measured by what you dream of becoming and doing and not what other people think you should get.
I wasn't born talented, I was born with a fierce set of dreams and a kick ass work ethic. My goal was to become one of the greatest actors of my generation. I did not set out to have a goal of
'I want to make a ton of money and be famous.'
**Because being a great actor has absolutely nothing to do with fame or money**.
The entertainment business does not reward brillant tallent as a rule, it rewards popularity and folks imitating what's already been done. But most importantly, the business rewards folks with a serious business strategy.
And that's what I had: a business strategy. I was going to pay my dues, learn to act/write and produce so that when the time was right and I had all my ducks in a row: my actors arsenal, my agent/manager team, my entertainment lawyer, my brand, I would be fully ready to step into my greatness. I'm not quite there yet. But I'm am hustling my ass to get there...and you can bet your bottom dollar on that.
_The most important step is to acknowledge that you are ready to start moving in that direction._
**I was preparing for where I wanted to be: self-employed, self-producing, telling stories I believe in and that truly represent me, running my own business, setting my own hours and traveling the world.**
I did readings and workshops for free for a decade for plays that never saw the light of day or they cast someone else in the role I developed. I love it when folks cast someone in the role you developed and then tell you after the fact, how talented you are and how unhappy they were with who they cast. And how they should have cast you in the first place. (Seriously lame).
But you know what?
I remind myself every time I put on that $3000 dress, walk into ABC, NBC or FOX how much money, time, energy and love I've put into this career. That I'm not there doing a role that people aren't sure they want me for, paying me peanuts, but rather I'm doing work that I chose and that chose me and shows me what I'm worth by paying me handsomely for my talents.
Work that is worthy of me.
And I cannot emphasize this enough.
**Actors constantly take barely-paid bullshit, poorly written, stereotypical work just for the sake of working and it drives me bananas.
Unless this role is going to get you a New York Times review and opens doors to other work, then you're not doing yourself any favors. Unless the work is paying you primetime money, it's not worth it. In fact, you are blocking the path to your greatness. So stop doing that right now, dammit!**
I mean it...
Write down where you want to be every day...and then get rid of all the fear-driven stuff you're doing that's eating up your time, soul, money and energy.
If you stop working on bullshit work for free, then people will get the hint and only call you when they got something for real to offer you. But if you don't create that space, it will never happen.
You create the space for your greatness to be born, by accepting nothing less than what you deserve. Because what you allow will continue.
Every time my manager calls that casting office after and gotten amazing feedback on my work;
Every time those producers see my tape and say, "One day, we're going to have a role big enough for her."
Every time I leave that office having left blood on the floor,
I know I did that for me.
My goal was to become one of the greatest actors of my generation. That's what I'm working on.
Every single audition I go in for gets me closer to that goal.
Every small part that gets my tape in front of directors, producers and showrunners is a win. Because you cannot get the job if people don't get to see your work. And getting on camera auditions gets your work in front of 1000's of casting directors, producers, writers, showrunners and directors. Because when they're casting a pilot, all those folks review the audition tapes because casting for a pilot is a team decision. So, make no mistake, auditioning is working as an actor. On camera auditions in particular because so many big decisions are made based on those tapes.
Every time I walk into those auditions and producer callbacks, they know my name and ask about my play or whatever I'm working on, I know I'm doing the work that is getting me closer to my goal.
And working on small, no money roles is not getting me closer to anything I'm interested in having. That's why when I put on my $3000 Donna Karan dress, I know I'm preparing for where I want to be, not where I am.
I'm wearing a piece of art made by a great artist. It's silk jersey, draped within an inch of my life, cut on the bias like a vintage dress hugging curves I didn't know I had. It makes me feel powerful, accomplished...because a great artist made the dress. And Donna is just that...watch the gorgeous lines of her dresses and how they mirror the shape of great works of art and follow the line of luscious feminine curves. Each of her dresses is a testament to the beauty of womanhood.
I'm dressing and auditioning for where I want to be, not where I am. Not where the industry says I should be. Not for the silly maids, nurses, silent sidekicks, crackheads and whatnot. I have done those roles. It's time for something worthy of me. I walk in the door with a package that says,
I'm bigger than that. Bring it.
And if I don't make room for that. It will never happen.
Self-Love/Self-Esteem are not affirmations. They are concrete
actions you take in your own behalf to change the course of your life.
If I don't have a rock solid business strategy that includes every aspect of my actors arsenal looking like a million dollar brand, then how the hell do I expect my agent/manager team to fight to get me in the door?
If I don't do everything within my power to be great. It won't happen.
Because the industry is not asking that of me. I am asking that of myself.
When I act in my own behalf by setting my goals, defining what success is for me, I am taking my power. That's self-love, esteem building in action.
Every time you do something that gets you closer to your dreams, you are growing fiercer and falling in love with yourself.
Everytime you set a boundary and accept only what you feel is worthy of you, you are walking in your truth, in your power, in honor of your god-given gifts.
And that's how you walk into an audition, see the fierce competition and not get scared.
Your success is what you deem as successful. Your choices are the choices that are special and unique to your artistic soul. They are your song.
And each unicorn has a different, beautiful, glorious song the earth has been waiting to hear.
April Yvette Thompson