It is true that there is a lot of rejection in acting, but there is rejection in life in general. And you will encounter more rejection the more you live your life fully and out of your comfort zone, by taking risks and being open and vulnerable to failure and to success. You will hear a lot of "nos", but on the other side is "yes". And it could be a beautiful, life changing "yes" that gives you an experience you never imagined. You have to wake up every morning and inspire yourself, which in all truth is the hardest frickin' thing to do sometimes. To be your own coach, cheerleader, sidekick and hero. It's really hard when the doubt comes creeping in, but believing in yourself is the best habit you can create. And surround yourself with people that will kick you in the ass to go chase your dream. They are truly the best allies.
I went to a table read the other night for a short film by a lovely young lady whom hopes to be a budding writer and director. She held the read at her parents' house, complete with Brie, crackers and Christmas cookies. I walked into her house and was seated at a large dining room table with several other actors. We all just timidly looked at each other and maybe nodded or smiled in acknowledgment of each other at the table, but for the most part, we just grabbed our script and started highlighting. I did introduce myself to the lovely lady next to me that was playing my daughter. Then in walked Cassidey, a very precocious and adorable nine-year old. She walked in, grabbed the seat next to me and completely took control of the entire room. She introduced herself and then decided that we were going to go around the table and say what we wanted from Santa. And strangely, we all obeyed. She went around to each of us and we all stated what we wanted and we ended with her. Of course, we heard her very long list of things she wanted for Christmas. But she wasn't sated with just our Christmas desires. She then asked us to state our favorite TV show and again, she went around to each of us and again, we all obeyed. Then the writer and future director walked into the room and took over the lead for the reading.
As I left the reading that night, I reflected on this young lady and her ability to come in and command a room. Her ability to just be herself with no filters and no apologies. I remembered when I was nine years-old and had the same unflappable confidence, and I started to wonder, when is it that we start worrying about what other people think? When do we start putting on filters and protecting ourselves from judgement or criticism? When did we become afraid to be our true authentic selves? When did someone, two someones or three, or four someones tell us to stop expressing ourselves? "Stop being silly! Why are you being a dork? Why are you crying? That's stupid. You shouldn't get upset over that."
When did I start censoring myself to make others feel better? And why am I still doing it?
I remember talking often in my acting classes back in Phoenix about being the fullest expression of yourself. I thought I was really working on it personally, but that Thursday night, I realized I'm not. I'm not being the truest expression of myself, because then I would have been walking into every audition room in L.A. and throwing down in a sense. Here is my talent. Here are choices. Here is me. Love it or hate it. I don't care. This is me. Vulnerable, creative, intense, emotional, fierce, passionate and known to have a tough exterior with a very soft interior. Whatever. Just no apologies.
And it's not just in the audition room, it is something that has to carry over into your personal, everyday life. I working on it, more than ever before.