Watch Your Mouth

I’m back from New York, where I spent another lovely few days working with actors on the principles of Self-Management for Actors, doing events with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, meeting with my Hollywood Happy Hour co-founder, and having high tea with a lifelong best friend (we met on the set of a commercial 28 years ago and she is currently 9.5 months pregnant). It was a delightful time, just as fleet week started up, and even though it rained all but one of the days I was in town, I was living the dream: running all over town, hopping in cabs, laughing and thriving and feeling the love with some truly wonderful people.

The sight of sailors crossing the street in their adorable sailor suits and iconic hats caused me to giggle as I recalled the episode of Sex and the City that depicts fleet week, and includes Carrie Bradshaw making it clear that she will not stand for anyone having something bad to say about “her man” (the City itself). This got me to thinking about how many bad things people have to say about “my man” (this business).

I’m ready for people to stop talking shit about the industry I love so much.

Sure, it’s hard work. (It’s all hard.) Sure, there are days we just wanna give up. (We all have those days.) But when actors do mass submissions like they’re slinging spaghetti at the wall and hoping for something to stick and then complain that agents are heartless and won’t take a chance on someone new, they talk smack about this business rather than identifying that there’s a smarter way to target representation, and understanding that cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approaches OF COURSE will lead to frustration.

When actors spend thousands on CD workshops without knowing their primary type, the shows that are their best targets (and not because “that casting office casts the most shows,” but because the show itself is populated with a vibe and type of actor that lines up with you), or even that the particular casting associate is still working on that target show, and then get nowhere, they bitch about the business. No. It’s not the business’ fault when an actor doesn’t do as much homework as possible before plunking down money, time, effort, energy.

But for some reason, we get so accustomed to people complaining about all that is wrong with this industry — nepotism, ageism, sexism, racism, typeism, favoritism, reality-show-ism, whatever — that it just becomes okay. And I’m back from New York feeling as protective of my beloved industry — a business in which I’ve spent decades, either acting, writing, casting, producing, or teaching — as New Yorkers feel about their beloved city.

Don’t blame this Hollywood machine for what doesn’t work in your career. Get very clear on what it is that needs to change, and get to making those changes that you can make. Oh, and those are changes in YOU, changes in your feelings about your creative pursuit, changes in your community, changes in your willingness to settle for scraps when you could have it all — if you would just do the work that is within your control.

Absolutely, when you get to the top, change the parts of this business that you can change. Don’t be one of those actors who gets so bitter about how hard it was “back in the day” and then make sure it stays hard for those younger actors coming up after you. (Yes, I’m looking at you, union members who throw hate on actors who self-produced new media projects to get their eligibility after you had to hustle for three vouchers to get your union status.)

Look, our words are powerful. When you find yourself tempted to complain about what’s not working, to grouse about where your career SHOULD be and how unfair it is that it’s not there yet, to throw shade on my beloved business that tells stories that change lives, do me a favor and watch your mouth — especially if you’re just thinking the smacktalk, as it’s even more insidiously powerful in your self-talk. Think about all the beauty this industry holds and how exciting it is to even be in pursuit of work within its parameters.

Because there is no amount of hate we can throw at a thing that will change it. There is, however, enough love to change how we feel about it.


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 http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001512.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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