Come from a Place of Service

I approach everything (well, as much as I can, in life) asking, “How can I be of service?” Whether it’s my weekly column, books, podcast, speaking engagements, private coaching, casting, producing, or even email-answering, I try to center myself and consider how the story is best told, how the client is best helped, how the world is best served by my next choice.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a great many creatives over the decades I’ve spent in this industry. I’ve been even more fortunate to have found a way to pick and choose most of those with whom I continue to do business. When I have the choice, I surround myself with people who also come from a place of service.

Why? Because it makes for delicious collaboration. We’re all serving the story we want told. When we discuss the script, when we craft the breakdown, when we select sides, when we hold sessions, when we make offers… we’re always looking to serve the story best. Sure, we have issues of budgets and “name actor” values and distribution and timelines and such. Of course. But when we’re all working to serve the story, amazingly, the right people get attached to the project and the story is beautifully told. Yes, even stories about zombies. 😉

When an actor comes in for an audition and is not jockeying for position, not trying to edge out his fellow actors, not trying to prove that he’s talented, not trying to *earn* a role through his boldness, but instead is there in service of the material, we feel it. We all feel it.

The truly ninja actor is aware that he not only serves the material when he is cast, but that he also serves it just by being a part of the audition process!

Think about it. Even if you’re not cast, by being a part of the selection process — from “just submitting” all the way to final producer sessions — you are helping along the storytelling process. You are helping to shape what will end up on screen or on the stage. By being a part of the talent pool from which the buyers select their casts, you have contributed. Way to be of service!

Now, one of the things I’ll warn against is the feeling of ownership, of entitlement, of fairness that happens for a lot of us. Hey, as someone who has had the basics of her Self-Management for Actors curriculum lifted and re-sold by hacks with slicker marketing savvy than I’ve developed, I can share in the rage that comes from getting the proverbial shaft. But that’s not what “being of service” is about. If we’re of service, we love that our stuff gets out into the world, by whatever means. So, when you’re a part of the creative process — even when you don’t get cast — please know you’re doing good work (and good work is always rewarded).

One of my new favorite TV shows is called The Profit. It’s like the next chapter of Shark Tank. Like, what happens after the investment is made, the partnership is in place, and the business goes through its growing pains under the leadership of this bazillionaire? Love this show. Anyway, something its star, Marcus Lemonis, said struck me as strangely appropriate for this week’s column: “It’s good to be passionate about your business, but when you have a pride of authorship that clouds your judgment, you’re gonna get yourself in real trouble.”

While I’m definitely someone who defends her copyright and who encourages actors to fight to be paid when their improvised riff from a commercial audition ends up *in* the commercial (with some other actor in the role), I’m also one to know the difference between the drive to stand up for rights that are violated and a pathological need for fairness in a business that is — let’s face it — not fair. So, consider looking at any “pride of authorship” you feel about the gift you’re giving to the world, when you are a part of the creative storytelling process. Is it serving YOU to be so attached?

When you’re in service of the storytelling process, you’re building a community, rather than craving the love of an audience. And as author Jonathan Fields says, “An audience stays as long as you perform. A community stays as long as you serve.”

I love the idea that when we’re “of service,” our community never goes away, because it’s filled with others who cannot *wait* to help us serve — stories, ideals, one another, and sometimes the audience, sure. 😉

That’s the best part of being of service in an industry like ours: It’s win-win. Being of service attracts others who are of service, and those are the folks with whom many of us would most like to jam, long-term. And, well, if the buyers you’re targeting are full-on takers (which, let’s face it, is possible here), hooray! Your being of service attracts them too! Mission accomplished!

You become a magnet for work when your goal is to serve. And — bonus — you leave this business a better place than you found it. How big-picture! How simple! How lovely!

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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