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The Working Actor

Are You Still Trying to Please Everyone?

Are You Still Trying to Please Everyone?
Photo Source: Clay Rodery

Are you as exhausted with selling yourself as I am? I feel like every time I enter an audition, I’ve accidentally taken a wrong turn into a red-light district. But not, like, a classy Saturday night red-light district. I’ve been banished to work the Sunday matinee crowd. There I am, bumping and grinding in broad daylight, trying with everything in my power to score a john—but they all just gawk at me with a bug-eyed look before passing on to the next. When did the business turn us into such whores? I guess there were always similarities between our profession and the Oldest Profession, but I’m sure there was a moment when we at least thought of ourselves as High-Class Call Girls.

It comes with the territory. “This business is hard.” “Only do it if you can’t bear doing anything else.” Yada yada yada. But seriously. It sucks. It sucks so hard. And it only sucks for you, because thanks to social media, everyone you know is painfully successful. So we keep hustling until someone thinks we’re worth something, and when they finally do we spend the rest of the relationship trying to prove to them why we were hired in the first place. We need to stop giving a shit about pleasing people. Stop taking things so damn seriously. Sure, it’s our career, but it’s not Ebola. It’s not even as bad as jokes about Ebola. It’s acting.

I’m not saying to go out there and be a dick. You should always take the work seriously (when you get it), because you are getting paid cash dollars to provide a service. When things get too hard, try to put everything into perspective. Remember that you have the opportunity to pursue what you love, and what you love is entertainment—a luxury to most people. We are not a necessity, so to spend a tremendous amount of energy feeling bad about ourselves or trying to be something we’re not is pretty unnecessary, too.

The same goes for when you are hired. Self-doubt creeps in usually around the time the director masks his inability to perform his own service by hounding you with notes. Or maybe you read the reviews and a bunch of crap online. The worst-case scenario is when you just decide in your head that you suck. Don’t do that. The whole “stop trying to please people” theory applies to you, too. Remember why you were hired.

If you’re like me and you feel like this business has turned you into a prostitute, go out there and be the hooker you want to be. Play by your own rules. You already broke them by not conforming to the idea of a “fallback” career, so why start following any now? When you try too hard to please, the desperation is palpable. The room can feel that tension and cut it with a knife. The moment you become submissive? They lose all respect for you.

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