Good News… and Thank You, Backstage!

I’m sure you’re receiving many notes like this one; but after reading your column today, I wanted to write to say that I too have lived this Bad News Is Good News paradox.

I’m not really an actor. I just do voiceovers. But the principle applies. Back at the start of 1996, I had been working for ten years as the host of a nationally-syndicated radio program. Then, my producer called to say I was being replaced by someone who was more of a celebrity. Now, that radio program wasn’t my only source of income at the time, but it was a big chunk. And I had no idea how I would pay the rent without it.

But three months later, a friend of mine dropped off my demo tape with his agent. At that point, I’d been nibbling around the edges of voiceover work for a little over a decade, not doing all that much. The agent, however, heard something he liked and called me that same afternoon asking to meet with me. We met the next day (a Friday) and I signed with his agency the Monday following. In less than a month, I’d been cast as the national TV and Radio voice for the 84 Lumber company. Other opportunities and jobs have followed (though I’m not working with 84 Lumber anymore) and all in all I’ve replaced the income from that syndicated radio job by several multiples every year since.

And of course, if I hadn’t been replaced on that show, I’d most likely have turned down the meeting with the agent because that program took so much of my time I couldn’t have spared any to meet with him (or go to any auditions, even if I had met with him). Here it is ten years later and I can’t believe how easily I could have missed all that I’ve experienced.

I hope you won’t mind, but I’m going to use this email as a basis of a post at my blog about voiceover. I’m going to link to your article as the catalyst that brought this story back to the top of my mind.

Thank you, Bob. And that’s quite an outstanding blog you have going on over there. Voiceover artists should definitely keep your site bookmarked.

I think it’s fascinating how some folks will “talk the talk” regarding this issue of perceiving bad news as an opportunity for good news and how others will truly GET IT and let it soothe them when the bad news comes. Because, of course it always will come. And it’s our reaction to it (whether “it” is an agent leaving the business — freeing you up to sign with the BEST agent you’ve ever had, the lack of pickup for your pilot — giving you room in your schedule to shoot an award-winning indie film, or simply NOT getting cast in a role — allowing you time to get involved in a wonderfully intense acting class) that really frees us to be the creative geniuses we all aspire to be.

Keep up the great work! And thanks for writing.

As always, the column was great! The comments you made about bad news not always being bad news are true in “real life” as well. How many jobs, boyfriends, houses, you name it, were you SO disappointed didn’t work out and then later you were SO grateful they didn’t work out? (Especially the boyfriends!)

My son went on his first network primetime series audition recently and didn’t book, but made a great impression on casting (he was called back) so, “bad news?” Yes, I guess so, but I’m willing to wait and see what comes next!

Wonderful attitude (and so important for parents to pass along to the young actors, starting out)! Absolutely, every callback is an indication that an actor is “castable” and after that, it’s just a matter of which way we go with the role (and there are so many factors at this point the actor can never control, much less even really KNOW about). When you make a CD “look brilliant” by rocking in the room and nailing the role at callbacks, you’re going to remain on that casting director’s list of favorite actors. We have long memories! And it’s delightful to be a fan of someone’s work for years and FINALLY have the pleasure of making that, “You booked it!” phone call.

Sure, we’d all like to see that happen sooner than later. But what if the “later” gig is THE ONE that propels you to a level in your career you’d never have known, had the earlier gigs come through?

For example, the pilot Nobody’s Watching was shot last year and NOT picked up. No big deal. Happens all the time, right? Okay, so my friend Bob Clendenin (who was on the cast list as a series regular, had the show been ordered) continued on about his life and booked another pilot this year (one that did get picked up). So, you could say it’s a good thing that the “bad news” came for him, right? Well, watch this twist: Just Saturday, an item in The Hollywood Reporter indicated that the popularity of the “dead” pilot on YouTube and the swell of support the show has gotten through viral marketing, blogs, and emails has prompted an immediate order for production! Yes! A “dead” pilot is back in action (and with MANY more people eager to see it than there would’ve been, had the show just been one of many on the fall schedule). And who could have ever predicted such a thing?

In the end, it’s all about letting go, isn’t it? Sure, we can pine for “the one that got away” with jobs, friendships, great loves, loan applications, club memberships, or agency contracts, but why? Much better to just move on and get to work on the next one. And the next. The “continuing to work” is what makes the stuff that “didn’t work” just no big deal.

One last quick note, before I close this week’s Your Turn. (And this one is looking like entirely Good News, right now.)

On Thursday, I had a rough day of prereads. Rough. More no-shows than I’ve ever seen in my casting career. A room that was way too hot for me by the end of the day. Communication glitches that were just annoying. It was a long day. So, I came home exhausted (and a little ready to retire from casting… which I think is a good sign of a hard day’s work) and went to bed by 8pm.

Awake by midnight, I checked my email and had a message from a former coworker from my days as a columnist for Back Stage West alerting me to the fact that I had been honored in their “Best of Los Angeles” issue. WOW!

I — with under FOUR YEARS of experience as a casting director — was named among CDs who have credits like, oh, I don’t know… The Matrix; Titanic; LA Confidential; The Shawshank Redemption; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Alias; Lost; and Knight Rider for cryin’ out loud????? Seriously… 95 years of casting experience in that group. I am responsible for fewer than four of those years. I am humbled and amazed and floored and honored to be included in that group of CDs (Mali Finn was named “Best Film/TV CD” and runners-up were Deborah Aquila, Billy DaMota, Richard DeLancy, April Webster… and ME). And the best part about the timing is that I guess, even on the toughest days, I’m not so bad at this job.

How awesome is it to get a compliment like that just a few years after choosing a particular career path? Again, WOW!

I am sharing this here as a means of public THANK YOU to the staff of Back Stage West and its wonderful readers for the support in this new career of mine. Who’da thunk it, that in 1999 when I began as a floater/temp and interview transcriptionist for Back Stage (since, as an actor, I needed a good survival job) that my “Casting Qs” column would be a way of interviewing nearly 300 casting directors on “how to do this job” so that I could model my casting company after the legends in this business?

Crazy! And I love it! You just NEVER know what your path is going to look like. And if you try to PLAN how to navigate it with attention to every meticulous detail, you may find yourself very frustrated with the Bad News along the way. Instead, just determine that you have a path… and choose to walk it. And if it looks like you’ve hit a dead-end somewhere, turn and walk some more. You NEVER know what Good News may be ahead.

Have a great week, everyone and, again, thank you for the support!

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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