It was time for our weekly group phone call for one of the classes I facilitate. Email had gone out. Questions were coming in. Actors were probably putting on their headsets and dialing in. And the teleconferencing site had a hiccup. We can’t get in. There’s no way to moderate the call. We can’t see hands raised. We can’t see live chat. Nada. There will be no weekly call. Well, not today. We’ll make it up. But that’s not the point.

The point is, I can either focus on something I simply cannot change, or I can get to changing those things I can. And right now, the only things I can change about this particular situation are related to communication: making sure there’s a ticket in with the tech folks who run the site that is failing us, that the folks expecting the call to start on time know it won’t — and that there will be a new call scheduled, and that we address (later) the financial impact of this downtime and consider relocating our teleconferencing business.

Things that won’t help, right now: Freaking the eff out, yelling, panicking, firing off an angry email to the service provider, losing my cool in any way.

But of course, that’s the stuff we most want to do, when things don’t go the way we think they should. And sometimes the last thing we want to do is deal with any of those “things we can control” that relate to the particular problem we’re having. Meaning, it’s no fun to work on stuff (even the stuff within my control) regarding this tech snafu. It all just makes me crankypants.

So, I must shift to things I control in other areas unrelated to this teaching gig. Y’know, look through the thousands of submissions on this series of commercials I’m casting, review bids for outrageously high-priced app development on this SMFA app we’re launching, review goals of those in my Dallas classes next week or secure our location for the New Orleans classes next month, anything other than focusing on this particular snafu.

Yet the brain wants to play in the yard of the recently fertilized lawn, let’s say.

Ah, the humanness of it all.

So, since one of the things I’m focusing on while not able to change much about the whole weekly group phone call snafu is getting this week’s column turned in early, I started thinking about actors and what y’all control vs. what y’all do not, and decided a handy checklist might be appreciated, when you’re in “monkey mind” and can’t shut up the chatter.

Things You Don’t Control

That they went another way.
That they went with someone taller, or shorter.
That they went with someone thinner, or fatter.
That they went with someone of another race, or gender.
That they went with someone older, or younger.
That you remind the director of someone he loves, or hates.
Their opinion on your work, if you’ve given your all.
That the room felt cold.
Waiting room games.
The stress the day has heaped on you up ’til the moment you walk in the room (roommate, traffic, stresses related to your survival job).
That they cut your scenes.
That the referral made no difference and you still got no meeting.
That you got a meeting and they still didn’t click with you.
That they signed and shelved you.
That they dropped you after pilot season.

Things You Control

How much research you can do about any particular casting office, its personnel, and the project on which you’re auditioning.
How prepared you are, both in the room and before you get invited into it.
Arriving early and giving yourself time to feel the space.
The content of your reel.
The look and feel of your website.
The slam-dunk of your headshot, on your brand.
The lean, mean, purpose-driven focus of your resumé.
Your postcards, business cards, letterhead, other marketing materials.
Your talent, and how deeply you’ve gone with your training.
Your ability to shoot audition footage and create opportunities for yourself.
Self-produced content available to showcase your abilities, on demand.
Your confidence in networking, connecting with like-minded folks, investing in your future.
Your professionalism, at any level.
Your attitude about all of the above!

When you’re feeling stumped by any of the stuff you don’t control, stop focusing on it. Turn your attention to those things that you do control, and dive on in. On the treadmill at the gym? You’d better be reading a screenplay. Sitting around bitching about how slow it is? You’d be better off outlining a scene you want to shoot for yourself. Wishing you were shorter or older or in a different type category? STOP THAT. You are who and what you are, and there’s casting going on for all of that! Every single day.

PS — I’ll be in Dallas next week with an event at the SAG Foundation and the Self-Management for Actors Seminars. New Orleans in March. Cannot wait!

PPS — I’ll be at the LA Actors’ Tweet-Up on February 6th and I hope you will be too! NY actors, there’s one for you as well! This is a great, free event filled with non-whactors, according to Ben Whitehair and the gang.


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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