So, last week we launched the last 100-Day Challenge of 2014 and I led off with the importance of making a list of things outside of your control. At first, this feels like a frustrating little exercise, but it has such value, as you begin to tackle those things you *do* control with greater commitment, because you’ve cleared the clutter of what you absolutely cannot MAKE happen, no matter how much you want it for yourself.

Recently, I spent some quality time with an actor who has a holding deal with Warner Bros. Now, a holding deal looks like a really sweet problem to have, right? It’s the kind of thing that many actors would put on their “things I can’t control, but man, do I want it,” list. Basically, you’re paid NOT to audition.

You are considered such a hot property that you are told, “We want you. We’re just not sure where yet. Sit tight while we figure that out. Here’s a ton of money.” Sounds great, right?

Well, as I spoke with this actor whose deal was one she had dreamed of having, you’d think she was a prisoner, counting down the days ’til she was granted parole.

“I sit at home all day, looking at the breakdowns, seeing the sides posted on Showfax, talking to my friends in acting class who are getting out on things, and I can’t do a damn thing,” she said. “I’m being paid to observe all the things I can’t audition for. I *want* to audition! I want some control over my career!”

Ah… here’s where my little alarm went off. “Hon, you do realize, just because you’re out there auditioning does not mean you have control, right?”

She had become so accustomed to not auditioning this year that she had somehow decided that auditioning actors have CONTROL over their bookings. They don’t. No more than she does. Of course, auditioning actors do have control over their craft, their prep, their research on the buyers, their charming smalltalk in the room, their work, their follow-through, their relationship-building in the long term. Yes. All of that.

And as I talked with this actor about the realities of what she controls vs. what *feels* like control, a lightbulb went off. “I can still prep, research, practice my pitch, keep my craft sharp, even build relationships through showcases and plays and even workshops! I just can’t go out for roles that would violate my holding deal!”

“I just want to be OUT THERE,” she declared.

“Then be out there,” I countered.

Just like an athlete who is sidelined due to an injury must still meet with his trainer to rehab and work out as much as possible, study game tapes, attend practice despite not being able to suit up and get on the field, an actor who has a holding deal can still work out in class, study targets, market to those targets, and stay in great shape for the next tier.

It’s really easy to be at the beginning of your game and think that those who have something you are sure signifies “success” are exactly where they want to be. I share this story as a means of making sure you check in — right now — and remember that it’s never that all things get *easier* at higher tiers; it’s just a new set of challenges.

No matter where we are, there are things we control and those we do not. Stay passionate about those within your control and stay dispassionate about the rest. Success does not mean that you control more. Get clear today about the reality of all the tiers stretched out before you. Get down with the pursuit, because no matter where you are, you’re on a pursuit that will always have its challenges.

And never feel as if you’re sitting still just because you’re being paid not to audition. Continue developing your craft, your relationships, your materials so that you are not soft and mushy just because you sat on the bench for a season. No matter what, you’re always in the game.

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 Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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