Back in 2008 I lived in Prague, Czech Republic and I was convinced that my destiny was to serve the city through theatre and community involvement. To do this, I interviewed with a faith organization called World Harvest Mission and returned to Seattle to “raise support.” Like with a lot of non-profit endeavors, my next job was to inspire people to get on board with my cause and support me in any way they could.
Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying I had to ask people for money. I hated it. I felt like I was imposing on people. If people said, “No” then it made things weird (for me). I didn’t like putting myself out there and making myself available for rejection. I had a coach assigned to me who gave me an outline of things to do, including: writing and sending out letters, setting up meetings and presentations, follow-up phone calls, and then repeating the whole process over and over again. I did this for about a year.
Over that year, my perspective of this process shifted. This is what I learned:
- Instead of asking for money, I was initiating a relationship, a partnership in this opportunity to make a difference in the world.
- Not to focus on the result. The result was out of my control. I had to put myself out there. What happened as a result was secondary.
- Instead of thinking I “have to” do this so that I get to do what I love; I got to serve and open people’s eyes to an opportunity, which they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
- Belief in my cause spoke to some people and not to others. That was okay.
- In the midst of hearing “No” over and over again, I had to have faith in something bigger in order to keep going.
As you might remember, 2008 coincided with this little thing in our economy called the recession. Because of that and a few other circumstances (I started dating this guy…), I decided to stay in Seattle instead and pursue acting. What seemed like a year wasted preparing for non-profit work I never got to do, turned into training for my acting career. That list of things my coach gave me to do is the basic framework for networking; only, letters turned into headshots and resumes; meetings turned into auditions; and follow-up turned into postcards and status updates. And look at what I learned above, don’t those things also apply?
- Every audition is an opportunity to build an artistic relationship for present and/or future projects.
- You have no idea if you will be cast, you can only focus on the chance you have in this moment to act, play and perform. That is a gift. Getting cast is secondary.
- The audition IS your opportunity to do what you love, not the gateway to it! And I’m serving the casting director by meeting a need they have.
- You will be right for some roles and not for others. That’s a good thing.
- No matter what it is, to keep going, you have to have faith in something: a god of hope, the greater good, art’s power to change people, a sense of destiny, the purpose of your own gift, or all of the above. These are true and powerful things.
Sometimes I forget and I start to resent the process, wondering why I chose this winding, rocky path. It is good to be reminded where I came from, how I got here, and what it’s all about. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a little faith to keep going.