A Big Life: Encouragement for People in the Arts –
In a competitive business like the entertainment industry, there are a lot of jobs I’m not going to get. Obviously. If you’re out here pounding the pavement with me you already know that. People will tell us not to take rejection personally but how?
We need something we can do to protect ourselves. A practice.
A wonderful film coach I work with in Portland named Ted Rooney recommends this to actors: “When you have an upcoming audition for something amazing, don’t tell everyone in your life. Don’t tell people when you have a callback. Don’t even tell people when you get a job. Or when it’s shooting. Wait until the spot actually airs.”
So I tried it. And it worked. I now feel wonderful about my secret life.
Well. For one thing, not everyone in my life is enthusiastic when I get an audition, especially if it’s “just” for a television commercial or a modeling print job. They don’t understand how difficult it is to get an advertising gig or how lucrative it can be. They don’t get how fun it is to be creative behind the camera or to work with artistic people, whatever the material. But I’ve found it’s even worse when the people in my life do get excited. Not only does telling them put the pressure on, I relive my disappointment over again when I have to tell everybody I didn’t get the job.
The practice of keeping a secret life also works in other facets of life for those in the entertainment industry. If you are a writer or a producer, it works for interviews. If you are a designer, it works for ideas. It also works in your personal life. You probably already know there is no need to tell your critical Aunt Maggie everything. Even her grudgingly saying “how well you turned out” implies that yesterday you weren’t doing so great.
Without the voices of your loved ones in your head, you may discover that it is easier to focus on connecting with the strangers that you meet as you look for work. My secret life now has become my playground for experimentation. How can I play a scene a new way? What can I find out in this brief time about the other person? My focus has suddenly become more about what I have to offer than I what I might get—or worse yet, lose.
Obviously there are exceptions. Call your acting coach if you need to prep before an audition for a feature film. Try your script idea out on your writing group before you try to sell it to Netflix. And always tell a fellow actress when and where you are going if you answer a sketchy ad on Craigslist.
Build a secret world for yourself. It’s fun. It’s empowering. It’s self-protective.
And it’s something every creative person can do.