Not too long ago my closest friend and I were talking about our lives as actors and the roles we are asked to audition for, as well as the roles we are cast in and thus have the opportunity to lift from the page and put on the stage or screen. I recall during this conversation something she said which simple as it may sound, is truly profound.
“Our job oftentimes is nothing more than to help move the story along.”
Now, before you think my closest friend is Harrison Ford, who uttered very similar words when he was being interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio, it was not him. However, whether it's me or Harrison or my friend we are ALL tasked with the job of moving the story along! From number one on the call sheet to number one hundred and seven on the call sheet.
To that end, this past weekend I attended a variety of workshops offered by the SAG Foundation who brought together some formidable folks in the business to impart some wisdom. A few of my favorite take-aways:
“Don’t depend on them (casting, producers, directors, etc) liking you – prepare and be professional….love what it is you do and what it is you bring to the job, that will be remembered and that will matter. “ ~ Sharon Bialy
“Stop bragging! Stop posting selfies and telling the world what you booked…do your JOB and take it seriously…there are so many more opportunities now than ever before.” ~ Jackie Burch
“Be so engaging they can’t ignore you.” ~ Celia Siegel
There was a running theme evident in all the workshops: Do YOU! Train, prepare, be professional, know your strengths and weaknesses, show up on time, don’t be an asshole, etc. And yet, many of the actors continued, even after hearing great advice, to ask questions pointed at technology or resume style or location or representation or hairstyle or social media status or if they should buy this kind of camera or that kind of microphone – and while I do not want to discount the importance of knowing the answers to those questions, few of those answers will get you hired. YOU get you hired.
So, back to the original thought about moving the story along. In life, as on stage, screen and behind the microphone, my job is to move the story along. I do that by being the most prepared, professional, interesting and interested person I can be on any given day. And it works. Much like weight-loss or financial gain, there are no magical pills or winning lottery tickets (okay, obviously that last one does exist, but relying on it for wealth would be a silly proposition). There is showing up. There is being prepared. There is the work and investment that leads up to the moment when I get the opportunity, the meeting, the audition – the job.
Simply understanding we all have a role to play in order to help move the story along and that sometimes it means pages of dialogue, other times it will mean a single word, sentence or perhaps even just a glance in the direction that the story needs to travel. The conversation with my friend and her bit of advice is a treasured nugget of truth, just the same as the speakers shared this past weekend. Our stories ultimately move us along as a society, culture, world and all of our voices are necessary to get that story to the next page, scene or chapter.