Blogging snack: A whole large bar of Aero dark milk. It’s full of bubbles so I’m telling myself this is fine. Also, a mug of Earl Grey tea so large I need both hands to cup it.
I remember my first proper ‘lightbulb moment’ very clearly.
The proverbial bulb lit up over my head as I was hit by the following realisation: If I ever want to be taken seriously, I need to take myself seriously.
I was in my mid-twenties, I’d graduated just over a year earlier and was working part-time in a clothes shop. I’d been fortunate to sign with an agent as I left University – I was very lucky as getting an agent without accredited Drama School training is very difficult (more on this in another post).
However, even with my agent batting for me, in my first year I had a grand total of two auditions. Neither of which went well. So there I was struggling to pay rent and growing more disheartened by the second about the career I’d been working towards since I was a child. The day job was fine, I got on well with the team, but I hated facing the fact I might never get to do the job I’d trained for.
One quiet day in the shop my colleagues and I were discussing the company’s rules on social media. The policy stated you couldn’t name the employer on your social media profile – they didn’t want to be affiliated with potential personal indiscretions (or something to that effect). It went like this:
Me: ‘I don’t think I have the company named on my profile…’
Colleague: ‘Why not?’
Me (slightly embarrassed): ‘Because I have ‘Actress’ in my job description.’
Colleague *stared at me incredulously*: ‘Actress?!” *LAUGHS* ‘Should I put ‘Writer’ on my profile then?’
*Cue more raucous snorts of laughter from other colleagues within earshot*
I was stung. His words hung in the air a moment before I responded. ‘Do you have a Writing agent?’
Colleague: ‘Well, no but…’
Me: ‘Then, probably not, no.’
It was a low blow from me and looking back I reacted defensively. But his words had hurt.
This simple exchange turned out to be an important conversation as it taught me what should have been obvious: my colleague’s surprise at the fact I was an actress was entirely my own fault. I didn’t behave like I had another profession – I behaved like I worked a part-time job in this shop. Whenever asked what I did, I’d mumble “I work in [name of clothing store] – oh, and I want to be an actress…”
That very moment, stood on the shop floor being laughed at by co-workers, changed everything. From then on, I began answering ‘What do you do?’ with a clear ‘I am‘ instead of an ‘I want to be.’
‘I am an actress.’
If pressed for details I would concede that I also worked part-time to support myself between auditions but generally people would accept my first response and move on… it was working! And, importantly, I was starting to accept it myself. It was magic – the results were almost instant.
So I’m going to leave those words here for anyone who needs to use them today: I AM.
Use them well. Anything you say after those two powerful little words, you’re likely to bring into effect. We’re all guilty of using them negatively; ‘I am overweight,’ ‘I am annoyed about…’ etc but using those words positively altered the way I saw myself and, no doubt, the way I was seen by others – including the gatekeepers of the industry; agents, casting professionals, directors etc…
After the lightbulb moment things started to improve. Of course, I don’t profess to be the epitome of success (what is success, anyway?) but I saw a huge difference in my audition experiences – my career got a kickstart, I left my job as I was able to support myself through my acting work alone – which, to me, was huge! Because it meant I could finally say, without a hint of embarrassment or feeling like a fraudster: I am an actress. The words I’d wanted to say since I first stepped on a stage as a little girl.
So that concludes this week’s post! A rambling story (I have many an anecdote!) I truly hope it helps someone who may need to hear it! If you’ve ever had a similar experience please share it in the comments, would love to hear your stories..?
Thanks for reading – AJ x
PS: About 6 months after the shop conversation took place – I got my first acting job!
PPS: I played a pole dancer and pulled all of the muscles in my arms… because pole dancing is way harder than it looks (be careful what you claim you can do in auditions… ;-))