That’s forever his title, now. Y’know, ’til he wins. Then it’ll be “Emmy winner Kim Estes.” Then on to the rest of the EGOT, of course. 😉
I first met Kim in 2004. I went to see a play starring one of my private coaching clients. She was super proud of her theatre company and the groundbreaking work it was doing. Within moments, I could see why. EVERY actor was stellar — even in the smallest of roles.
When Kim first hit the stage, I both couldn’t take my eyes off him *and* couldn’t flip through my program fast enough to find out more about him. Wow. Such charisma. Such style. Such talent. Such heart. I was an instant superfan.
Turns out the feeling was mutual.
Fast forward through all the times I’ve cast Kim, referred Kim to others in need of the perfect actor for the role, had the pleasure of enjoying a social life with Kim… and land for a moment at the time Kim and I had a lovely chat about his experience going through the early stages of being considered for an Emmy in 2010. (If you’ve never read my FYC piece on Kim, it’s here.)
Kim didn’t end up on “the big ballot” that year — as there’s a whole preliminary stage of voting we Television Academy members go through before the official nominations hit the news, as they did yesterday for this year’s round. But what Kim shared in that interview with me remains some of the finest information out there available for actors who are finally approaching the tier at which the potential of an Emmy is even on the table. It’s the first place I send my higher-tier clients when they start talking to me about publicists and awards and the politics involved in the whole dang thing.
More than that, it’s a fantastic example of the MINDSET required to weather this business… at any tier!
Seriously. Go read it. It’s worth it.
Today what I want to underscore is the time it takes for “results” to show up in this beloved industry of ours. And — most importantly for you to understand when it comes to *any* disappointment you may feel when you DON’T get what you want (y’know, like when Kim didn’t wake up to find he was Emmy nominated in 2010, maybe) — I want you to know that what you are doing today…
…is laying the groundwork for something that won’t likely materialize for a decade.
I’ve said this many times and it’s worth saying again: You have your first “real” pilot season after your name has been passed around on a list at network for sometimes YEARS before that. You spend a season thinking you’re not getting anywhere because you didn’t shift from co-star to guest star or you didn’t shift from indies to studio projects or you didn’t shift from pre-union to union. And what’s *actually* happening is that all the work you’re doing — from the play you’re in to the self-produced short you uploaded to the favor gig you did in another ninja’s webseries — is getting your reputation solidified for what WILL happen someday.
There’s a prepaving going on and it has everything to do with the quality of work you do while you THINK no one’s watching.
Sugar? Someone’s always watching.
Kim’s *lack* of an Emmy nomination after his campaigning experience of 2010 was NOT a failure. Not even close. (And I especially want the other glorious SMFA ninjas who went through the campaign process this year to pay attention, here.) What happened was Kim’s name — and Kim’s vibe, his energy, his spirit, his talent, his charisma — got “out there” in front of Academy members. Seven years ago.
Every single thing that he strategically spoke about in our 2010 interview — and that Kim has continued to do since then — 100% laid the groundwork for what happened yesterday, when his name was announced at the formal nomination ceremony.
When Kim and I bumped into each other at one of *many* Academy events he hit during FYC season recently, I asked if he was going for it again. “Oh yes,” he said! “Very much so!” And with all the joy and energy and passion he has always had for this business and his purpose as a storyteller, he talked about the exact same things we discussed seven years ago (and over many dinners and drinks years before then and since then too).
It’s connecting the dots. And you’re good at it. I am too. I love connecting those dots. When you, as an actor or as a person — as a being on this planet — can connect the dots without reservation, and without believing there’s something in it for you, that’s when you’ve made it not only as an actor, but also as a human being. When you have given that — connecting people for the good of them, not you, when you have given that — there’s nothing more gratifying than hearing the result of that dot connection. I’m so grateful to the people who connect the dots for me. Those connections come back to you 100-fold.
Talk about being of service.
Kim’s name has been on lists for a long time during tiny moments that could — on their own — be seen as “failures” if he were built of different filters for his life’s experiences. When I see actors complaining about not getting this role or that role or about being dropped by an agent or never even getting a meeting after doing a big mailing or *anything* else for that matter, I wish so deeply for them that they could TRUST the big picture. TRUST things are happening. TRUST their reputation for where they’re headed is being built with their every experience — and the grace with which they handle the ups and downs we ALL endure. TRUST their talent and their path.
Because right now, today, everyone’s name is on a list somewhere. And the payoff of having your name on that list won’t reveal itself for years. Now… what’s that list? Is it a list of “creative divas who bitch about parking at commercial casting facilities” or “actors who grouse about how poorly copy-credit-meals breakdowns are written” or “chronically tardy wannabes who bitch and moan about how unfair this business is”?
Or is it a list of “charismatic, talented, joy-filled people with whom I cannot WAIT to be in business” your name is on? That’s the list Kim’s name went on in my life in 2004 and we’ve been in business together and built a beautiful friendship in that time (and this is only the beginning). I described during a recent Facebook Live broadcast the incredibly vivid dream I had about waking up to this year’s Emmy nominations and seeing Kim’s name on the list. The feeling of it was so incredibly overpowering that I got incredibly emotional right there in the dream (and during the broadcast as I talked about it) and the next thing you know *each* of the SMFA Ninjas for whom I — as an Academy voter — had selected on my preliminary ballot had made it through to the official nominations list.
I could tell at this point it was a dream because I was able to say, “Wait. Nominations aren’t out ’til next week…” but the dream kept filling me with so much joy and overwhelming emotion of bliss for these phenomenal people I’m so lucky to get to work with every day that I didn’t rush to end the dream. I stayed in that blissed-out place, luxuriated, and thought, “Wow. How awesome is this life we’ve built, we creatives who love so much what we get to do for a living!”
When Kim came onto the Facebook Live broadcast with a comment that day, I had to stop and tell the story of the incredibly vivid dream. And, amazingly, when I woke up this morning I had a knowing. I had *that* knowing. I didn’t even have to look. I just KNEW.
Kim’s email came soon after, thanking me for always having faith in him. A true class act. He’s bombarded with energy and outreach and important TO DO work in the hours after the nominations are announced — because now the big work begins — yet he sends over his notes to the people in his life JUST like he did on the day seven years ago when his name *wasn’t* on the list.
Because he knew his name was on a list SOMEWHERE. 😉 It always has been.
And that trust is what we get to see play out now, so publicly.
I’ll ask you to check in with yourself about where you are, privately, with the TRUST it takes to get to live out the public life you so hope to experience.
There’s work you’re doing RIGHT NOW that’s getting your name on a list.
Make it good.
PS — The SMFA Hot Sheets are settled in at their new home right here! Please help yourself to all the goodies we’ve created to enhance your experience working the Self-Management for Actors principles! These regular updates are my gift to you and I’m so excited to share them with you.
What can you share with the world right this second? Doesn’t matter how small it all starts out… it leads to greatness. Unless you get in the way.
Congrats, Kim. I love you!
And of course, ninjas, I love you all. 🙂
Build toward your gold-and-shiny. It’s out there.