The Give-Up

One of the finest actors I’ve ever known (and auditioned and cast) is no longer in the business. The story is almost too tragic to share, except it’s also so common, I have to share it.

He floored me, his first time in the room with me. He had been pitched by a manager I trust. He definitely didn’t have the credits to “earn” a spot in the room, based on the population of the casting sessions for that role… but I loved his manager (still do) and trusted her enough to give this kid a shot.

And he blew me away. Like, “OMG, he should be our *lead*”-level blew me away. Here he was, new to town, nonunion, reading on a one-scene role as a favor to my manager friend and suddenly I wanted to rescind our offer to the fancy name actor we were hoping to land for the lead, because THIS was our guy. No question.

Turns out, he was our guy. Everyone on the team agreed. They saw the preread audition footage and said, “Yeah. What you saw in the room, we’re seeing on screen. This is our guy.” And once he was on set, when I sent footage of this actor from the dailies to my then-favorite agent (now a manager) and said, “You HAVE TO sign this kid,” my phone never rang so fast. This power agent hadn’t even finished watching the footage, and he knew this actor was meant for his roster.

Cut to: Pilot season. Seven network tests. Holy crap, can I pick ’em? The low-budget indie in which I had cast him premiered and he took me as his date (not his co-star, whom he was then dating). I’m thinking: He’s built for this business. He’s working his relationships, he’s “yes, and…”-ing everything. He’s gonna be famous next year.

And then he’s gone.

All headshots removed from his IMDb profile. His Actors Access and LA Casting profiles are disabled. He’s gone inactive with the unions and he’s dropped the fancy agent I helped him get and the awesome manager who got him on my radar to begin with.

Gone.

Out.

Gave up.

Hated this industry more than he loved his pursuit, more than he loved his success.

Look: I’ve hated this industry too. We all have (don’t you dare act like you haven’t). It gets hard. It just DOES. The question is: Is it gonna get so hard that it drives you out altogether?

The only one who knows the answer to that question is you. I’ve said before that we pick our hard (because it’s ALL hard). But when I see someone who is seriously brilliant, so freakin’ talented, built to succeed in this business, and unequivocally on the road to holding up something gold and shiny just BAIL, I weep.

And I remember back to the week after my 10-year high school reunion. My reunion-reconnected high school bestie came to visit me at grad school (where I’d sequestered myself after bailing on LA due to the Northridge Quake) and he said that it pissed him off every day he saw someone less talented than me “making it” in LA. His words were like acid thrown on my face, but those words set off my “Age 28 Epiphany” and that’s why I’m here today, having sold everything I owned on eBay and attempting the LA thing “one more time.”

It’s not that it’s easy, ever, but I can safely say, after having spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 years in this biz (of my nearly 44 years on this planet) that giving up RIGHT before it gets good is an action of you robbing the world of the talent you were given, and that you were meant to share with us.

Don’t. Give. Up.

Just don’t. Sure, I’ve talked about good reasons to pack it in and go home, and I stand by all of that. But I’m not talking to those who could take or leave this pursuit. I’m talking to those of you who are so freakin’ talented that you could change the world with your craft. Don’t. Give. Up. Endure the bullshit (and there’s plenty of it). Find a way to bring your gifts to the rest of the world, because that’s why you’re here.

I can only say I’m thrilled that I’ve seen way more tier-jumps and “yes, and…”-s and gold and shiny moments than I have seen “the give-ups” in this business. Still, the give-ups haunt me. Because that could’ve been me. Whatever you do, don’t let it be you.


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001833.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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