I was at a leadership conference when the facilitator decided it was time for a rousing game of Simon Says. Here we were, all 6000 of us, up on our feet, ready to hop from one foot to the next or to raise one hand or the other, but only after he said, “Simon says: Jump on your left foot.” It was fun. It was meant to recharge us after lots of learning. Get us out of our brains by having us play a silly childhood game.
As each of us got “out” by doing something without having been given the “Simon says” go-ahead, we were to sit back down and watch the rest of the room play. I got out three or four rounds before the final 20 or so were left standing, and boy was I glad, because all 20 of those folks were congratulated and told to run up to the stage at that point… and only the one who didn’t excitedly run up to the stage to join this fancy leader was the winner. Because Simon didn’t say “run up to the stage.” It was a funny final OUT that the winner was the one who didn’t want it so badly that she rushed up on stage. She remembered the game. It was great.
What got me though was watching someone who *also* got out before that last round (I saw her take her seat, so she was definitely out) decide that she wanted to keep playing. She got back up and stayed in the game (and became one of those final 20 who got out on the “run up to the stage” round) and I found myself mad at her. “You were OUT, girl. What are you DOING getting back in the game? Cheater!”
As I investigated my emotions (they were strong), I thought, “That’s like cheating at solitaire. You’re totally lying to yourself when you later WIN. Just reshuffle and start a new game. Don’t cheat. Cheater.” Does the person who cheats at the game feel a sense of pride when he or she wins? As my thoughts turned to my readers (as my thoughts often do), I asked, “Does the person who mislabels extra work as SUPPORTING on the resumé feel excited for that non-accomplishment? Does the actor who pumps up his or her credits enjoy the WIN of having gotten one over on someone else?”
While I was working with a client last week, I checked out his IMDb-Pro page. It had the short film, the low-budget indie, the one-liner in the basic cable TV show from a few seasons back… typical starter stuff for an actor whose projects thus far have been these and then a ton of student films that never made it to IMDb. But then there’s this section that’s labeled: “Starred info submitted by page owner via IMDb Resumé (has not been verified by IMDb).”
And oh man, this actor had about 40 things listed. Not just stage credits (which IMDb wouldn’t list anyway) or training (ditto) but all these on-camera credits (which IMDb *does* list, of course) that didn’t line up with what IMDb *did* list for him, officially.
“Let’s talk about this section,” I prompted. The actor went about explaining to me that someone had told him he needed to pump up his credits. His few little IMDb-worthy projects were not turning the heads of the agents he hoped to sign with, so this tactic was meant to prove that he had been on more sets than his IMDb page would indicate.
“Okay,” I began. “But what does this section tell the buyer about your picker, if all these are non-IMDb-level projects? It says, ‘I’m an actor who loves to say yes to projects that won’t ever make it to IMDb,’ when you have all this clutter here. You actually detract from the value of that awesome cable series you worked on when you try to crowd up your profile with crap no one will ever see.”
As the lightbulb went off over my client’s head, he began to second-guess it and quickly asked, “But how do I prove I’ve worked?” “You’ve WORKED!” I exclaimed. “Look, you have IMDb-worthy credits. These three things prove you’ve been on sets of real projects and didn’t get fired or deleted from the final cast list. Cluttering up your profile with all this other stuff is not helping you. It’s like not trusting that you’re a good kisser but instead running down a list of EVERYONE you’ve ever kissed — even the ones you’re embarrassed to name off — in order to PROVE that you know how to kiss. Dude. Just be a good kisser. You have enough proof without having to clutter up the joint. It’s like these IMDb-level credits are the hottest people you’ve kissed. Why keep showing off the list of some of the ‘starter’ kissers you experienced?”
Just like being in a hoarder’s home feels disconcerting, if your reel, if your resumé, heck, if your *life* is filled with clutter, you exude lack of confidence in the value of those IMDb-worthy things you have booked, you seem to be trying too hard to prove you’re a good kisser, and worst of all, your muse may stop coming to visit such a cluttered place.
She needs space, she needs beauty, she needs peace and quiet, she needs your attention. Considering the fact that this creative career you’ve chosen — this dream of yours that you’re giving everything to pursue — is BASED on your ability to bring the goods… Every! Single! Time! …you’d better put practices into place that make it more likely than not that the creative spirit will rush in every time you invite her (and even when you don’t, as that’s when the most brilliant stuff happens, often).
The way you do that is to trust that you’re enough, to not fudge your credits, and to navigate to the very next tier rather than stressing about a tier that’s several years away. You’re not there yet because that’s not the next tier to get to yet. Pumping up your credits risks that you get an agent based on a false sense of what it is you’re really ready to do, and then when that agent drops you a year later because you couldn’t deliver in the rooms he was able to get you into, who are you mad at? As for me, I’d be mad at past-tense YOU who pumped your way up into the wrong rooms rather than getting really savvy about figuring out how to get into the very next right ones.
Right now, you are enough. Go take something off your resumé that doesn’t represent how you want to be cast NEXT. Take down the YouTube footage of yourself in that crappy indie with all the tech issues because that is not the level of work you want to be known for doing. Clear your mental clutter so your creative spirit can do its best for you every single time.
And if you still feel the urge to pump up, go to the gym or hit a drop-in acting class to work on your craft. Don’t pump up your credits! They are exactly enough for where you are right now, and for the very next tier.
Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001856.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.