I’ve been a fan of the amazing Crista Flanagan since I first saw her on stage at the Comedy Union in 2002. Anyone who has read any of the first three editions of Self-Management for Actors knows the essay on pilot season she contributed to the book. Crista’s IMDb page is filled with the types of credits many actors would love to claim as their own, and — among all the things I adore about Crista — my favorite thing about her is that she knows it’s all about creating content, keeping active, staying on the radar, not doing what everyone else is doing, and having fun — no matter how many tiers you jump.

As I’m writing this week’s column, we’ve just wrapped a fabulous teleseminar with Crista as our guest, and — as expected — she’s a huge source of inspiration. Because not only do actors at the beginning of their game need to hear from those who’ve worked as series regulars, recurring guests, leads in studio films, but also because they need to hear from those who know that creating your own content, getting “out there,” connecting with your best mindset for success, and staying plugged into your ever-expanding circle of co-conspirators is essential NOW and FOREVER.

Hear this: The work I’m asking y’all to do every week through these columns is about getting your head in the right space to thrive in this career for a lifetime. No, it’s not glamorous. No, it’s not easy. But dammit, it’s important. Getting your mind right is going to make the difference between surviving long haul and saying, someday, “Yeah. I tried that acting thing. It wasn’t for me.”

It’s for you if you shift gears from being results-oriented to being aware of your function in the minds of the buyers. Crista nailed this for me today when she said this, about the casting directors, producers, and directors she meets:

“My job is to make them look great. It’s not about getting the job. Turning in a performance that I love and that I’m proud of, that’s what’s important. I see casting directors as friends who’ve invited me to a party and my goal is to be a lovely guest.”

That’s such a rockstar “yes, and…” to last week’s party-related column. I think it was Beverly Long, in 2001, who first said to me in an interview for Casting Qs, that casting is like throwing a party, and you must invite wonderful guests into the room, and learn who needs to be invited back over time. I so love the analogy of what we do as a party-related endeavor, because, in the end, we really are having a marvelous time and it’s on us to KEEP having a marvelous time while “expanding our circle” as Crista said, about the Web of Trust in this business.

Crista also shared that she once heard this wonderful bit of advice that has stuck with her: “You need to be an amazing actor AND. That AND is what makes the difference.”

So, that AND could be: “You’re an amazing actor AND you’re funny,” or “You’re an amazing actor AND you’re smart,” or “You’re an amazing actor AND you’re creepy,” or “You’re an amazing actor AND you are the child of a studio head,” or “You’re an amazing actor AND you’re an amazing writer with a zillion ideas to share with the world.”

Whatever comes after that AND, according to Crista, that’s what’s gonna make the difference. Because just being “an amazing actor” simply isn’t enough. That’s baseline. Truly. We all know it’s not about being the most talented actor who walks in the room. There’s something more that has to click. That’s where that AND comes in. What is it that makes you a lovely guest at the party? What’s your AND?

Don’t feel that the AND leads to recipes like “you have to do Twitter” or “you have to be on Facebook” or “you have to do CD workshops” or “you have to do mailings” or “you have to hurry up and get in the unions” or “you have to have an agent” or “you have to…” ANYTHING. It’s because the AND is unique to who you are and what you bring to the world that you needn’t stress about what anyone else is doing. Seriously, don’t worry about that mess. Focus on what YOU do.

“What you have to do,” says Crista,” is be great. The rest is extra.” Yes. The rest is Your Youness. It’s what makes your WHY clear to the world. It’s absolutely what will make the difference. Run it through Your Brand Filter and enjoy the ride. Turning off results-oriented thinking, creating things because you love to create, and being your authentic self in everything you do… that’s what leads to success, long-term.

Are YOU a lovely guest? Lemme hear from you in the comments, below. 😀

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/001550.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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