Hey! I’m back from Kauai! (Wanna see some favorite pics? They’re here.)

In a few hours, I’m hosting a Facebook Live broadcast about agent drop season (it’s upon us) and prepping for agent meetings, because if you’re lucky enough to land a meeting with a well-targeted HELL YES rep in this li’l window, you don’t wanna get to THAT point and then start figuring out what the heck to do!

(If targeting a HELL YES agent or manager is a new concept for ya’, definitely watch this free mini-course I did a few months back *before* joining me for our Facebook Live today at 2:30pm PDT over here.)

One of the things that tends to happen ’round rep-upgrade time is that I log a loooooooottttttt of coaching hours going through all the tools (headshot, resumé, footage, web presence) and of course prepping for the outreach (cover letter, bio, targeted approach highlighting how great a fit y’all are) and ultimately the meeting itself (Brandprov, baby! Rock that meeting like a mo’ fo’).

And one of the things that seems to remain a constant for some folks is this inability to upgrade some of the elements that could make a difference.

Meaning… I’ll have a client who is totally ready for next-tier rep and we’ll start the process of targeting MONTHS in advance, mapping out everything that needs to happen alongside this awesome Self-Management for Actors data mining that’s going on, and then we get to our session that’s timed to happen right about now, just before meeting season.

I’ll excitedly say: “So, lemme see your updated footage!” (Or website or headshots or bio or whatever… take your pick.)


Ah… here come the excuses for why whatever it is that WE AGREE needs updating in order to be next-tier bait for the buyers didn’t get upgraded in time.

And then we decide whether we’re looking at pushing the approach to *next* drop season into meeting season or if we’re gonna readjust the goals to a little lower-tier target level or if we’ll plow ahead with not-great tools to these targets and hope for the best.


None of these options feels great, right?

Here’s my theory on what’s *actually* happening with this: At the core of the “I can’t get around to improving my [fill in the blank]” is the secret question no one ever wants to ask out loud: “What if I suck?”

No one wants to ask the question “What if I suck?” because, well, the answer could be a really crappy one to hear.

But look at what’s crappier: Maintaining crappy conditions that keep you working and living below your destined tier so you never have to face that tough question.

This keeps you fixing non-problems, by the way.

Let’s break this down!

Say you suck! Okay. Great. Suck you do! Woo HOO!

If you SUCK, you can have the best possible headshots, the most perfectly-formatted resumé, a cover letter to swoon over, a web presence that makes others jealous, a demo reel you cannot WAIT to show off, and a bio that rocks… and still not book. Still not get a next-tier agent. Still fail.

Ah… but then you have EVERYTHING going for you and still fail… which means you get to focus on the *actual* problem instead of a bunch of non-problems. It means you get to train more. You get to just get better. It means you’ve got craft muscles to build so you can back up all the good things that come from having stellar tools.

Okay, so let’s scrap that direction since we know where it leads and we know what to do about it all… and let’s go with what if you DON’T suck.

Yay! You don’t suck! Hooray!

Uh oh… that means you’re keeping around sub-par tools so you have something to blame for not making it. You keep around crappy footage, you refuse to pull down off-brand years-old headshots from your casting profiles, you resist upgrading your bio so it’s totally on-brand and focused on where you’re HEADED… whatever… so you can point at *that* thing as the reason you didn’t land the gig, didn’t get signed with the HELL YES rep you targeted, didn’t move on to the next tier.

That means the thing you resisted upgrading because it protected you from the question, “What if I suck?” is actually keeping you tethered to a lower tier because of what you REALLY fear… the super-secret question no one EVER dares whisper and OMG I’m putting it right out here into the world for all to see:

“What if I don’t suck, everything is in perfect shape, I have all of this branding stuff right, my agent is hell-yes level rockstar to the extreme, all stars are aligned… and I still don’t make it?”


Let’s call this “unrealized potential.”

Now here’s where slick marketing jagoffs become bajillionaires and I don’t: I have nothing to sell you to fix this. (They’ll tell you the thing they have will fix everything. It won’t. They’re lying.)

Because the truth is, “unrealized potential” is totally possible.

It is absolutely possible that you could get everything “right” and still fail.

But here’s where I think that’s awesome: It means you did everything you could, then failed, and can move on or decide to stay dug in for a lifetime of trying because who knows if what failed today will keep failing tomorrow, right?

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather fail having first lined up everything in my favor than fail because I half-assed something.

Because this way, when I fail (and we all do, at something, at some point in life — yes, even me), I can take the data and analyze it like I’m an engineer at NASA. I’m not going to *stop* trying to improve the space program with each new launch; on the contrary — my JOB is to improve upon every “failed” launch specifically TO advance incrementally.

In case you’re not seeing the parallel, that’s pretty much what you’re doing — when you’re not too scared to open the black box.

And the black box, here, is that crappy footage you refuse to improve, the shoddy website you won’t update, the old headshots you keep around, the [fill in the blank] whatever that keeps you not-yet-ready to really go for that next-tier HELL YES rep you’ve been targeting.

What can you fix so that you’re giving yourself every opportunity to fail correctly? Or succeed epicly?

No more excuses. Let’s leap!

PS — LA creatives, we still have FOUR seats left in our last Self-Management for Actors Retreat of 2017! It’s a one-day intensive filled with rockin’ out your type and brand, targeting to the next tier, collaborating on content that celebrates your most castable work, and developing your personal pitch! C’mon in and join the fun! We’ll get you caught up on homework immediately so you’re ready for our big day together November 4th. 🙂 Wheeeeee!

Ooh! And for our *next* Facebook Live (not the one in a few hours), I’m actually bringing on a special guest and we’re going to break down your websites LIVE on the broadcast! Wanna nominate your site for a live tune-up? [SURVEY CLOSED.] Fill this puppy out. Please and thank you!

All right, gorgeous, let’s make some magic! See you at the next tier! 🙂

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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1 Comment

  1. The Actor's Dojo October 26, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    If any fellow ninja friends read Bonnie’s line, “It is absolutely possible that you could get everything ‘right’ and still fail”, and died a little because she so *perfectly* summarised our deepest fear, you may also like a post we wrote that begins with, “Do not depend on the hope of results”. Merton drops some pure gold in his explanation on this whole dance.


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