Vitamins vs. Painkillers

One of the first things I do when working with a new client is find out whether they’re looking for a vitamin or a painkiller.

Painkiller coaching? That’s easy to spot. The coaching application is filled with PAIN we need to KILL. “My reel sucks,” “My agent doesn’t know I exist,” “I can’t figure out my most castable brand,” “I joined the union too soon,” “I suck at networking,” “I hate my website,” and so on.

Vitamin coaching is a little tougher to spot, but it’s what I love about the SMFA ninja community — there’s a lot more vitamin coaching going on in my world than you might expect. I get on a lot of ongoing coaching calls with folks who wanna optimize a system, shave seconds off a PR, fortify strategies for next-tier meetings, just effin’ FEEL BETTER on the daily about this creative pursuit.

But we don’t tend to have a lot of words to describe how it is we WANT to feel.

We tend to spend a lot more energy looking at how we DON’T want to feel.

And while I’m all for eliminating what we don’t want, I find there’s a wee loop that creatives get caught in for a little longer than necessary.

If the steps are:

  1. Identify what you don’t want.
  2. Therefore, identify what you DO want.
  3. Get into a good feeling place about exactly where you are, so you can do the damn work.
  4. Know you’re always trending upward, even if you’re stuck in shit at the moment.
  5. Stay out of your own way by keeping your head in the right place, lowering the chance that you’ll slide back to step one and stay there for far too long.

…then where would you say you spend MOST of your day?

Me? I treat step 5 like it’s my full-time job. My FIRST order of business each day is getting my mind right. Embracing everything for which I am grateful. Being satisfied yet anticipating more. Loving the ride. Freakin’ LOVING the ride!

When I have a blip of “Ooh, don’t want THAT” about anything, it truly is a blip. Because I’ve taken a LOT of vitamins over the years, building up my general health and fitness for this journey at its best.

You can too… but not if all you’re focused on is killing the pain of living in a step 1 place for too long.

Now, even my best “lifers” will come to me in need of a painkiller every now and then, and of course, I can do that job well. But once that immediate need is met, we get back into vitamin territory. And for many actors out there, I’m perceived as a painkiller… alas, my lifers know I’m the most effective vitamin shot EVER.

Long-lasting WHOLE-health wellness. 🙂

Let’s shift away from the coaching example to how you present as an actor.

Most buyers — producers, directors, casting directors, anyone looking to hire you to fill a role, let’s say — are looking for help of the painkiller variety.

They have an immediate need and there’s hell to pay if it’s not met.

When you come in and audition, they’ve looked at your label (this is going with the image of you being a bottle of pharmaceuticals and that label being something like your headshot, resumé, demo footage, web presence, etc.). If you’ve been pitched by an agent, this is that pharmaceutical rep having built relationships and cutting deals along the way, probably driving around with a trunk full of samples and logo-emblazoned ballpoint pens. 😉


Your work as an actor is to come in and display that you absolutely kill that pain. BOOM.

But there *is* a vitamin actor. And actually — much like in my coaching business — the actor with a lifetime of work and steady trajectory of success through the tiers (y’know the actor who becomes a household name by booking SO much work, being a series regular, staying consistent, putting butts in seats, building a healthy fanbase, etc.), has the keen ability to be BOTH a painkiller and a vitamin.

(They book the room. Every time.)

No matter WHAT immediate pain is being killed — and even when the buyers have decided to go with another painkiller at the moment — there’s an infusion of vitamin action happening. And because of that, your name is on a list. And another list. It’s a list like those my name is on when it comes to coaching: “I may have only ever consumed her free resources. I think at one point I bought her book. But when I’ve saved up to invest in myself for some all-about-me coaching, BONNIE GILLESPIE IS THE ONE.”

You want to be on lists like this all over town, too.

So examine your vitamin vs. painkiller strategy as an actor, today.

While you may be great at showing buyers what it is you do well *right now* so they can (hopefully) cast you while they have this immediate need, what are you doing to show them that the health of ALL their projects now and forever forward is improved by their investment in you someday… even if this one particular role goes to someone else today?

We’ll jam about this together on my Facebook Live broadcast at 2:30pm pacific. Join us right over here and be ready to pop in your questions about how YOU can lean into this badassery. I’m here to help! (And yes, I’ll put up a replay at my YouTube channel, if you’re not so much the Facebook type.)

Oh, hai… you got the big email, right? Saying that the coaching deal is now ON for four days only?!?

YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS! (I mean, unless you *do* of course. Duh.) Fish that earlier email out of your junk filter using these steps if you missed the word. We wanna be sure you get in if jamming with me is on your wishlist!

That’s all, beauties!

Stay inspired so you can stay inspiring! 🙂


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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