take yourself seriously
Recently, I put together a read through of a play that I was writing. I wanted to find a couple of actors for the read through who were suitable for the parts and also happy to discuss the play afterwards. I am a very firm believer in paying people for their work and I was offering to pay them. I reached out to a few actors through different means but mainly it was on facebook. My message read something like:
“Hi – it’s steph [insert link of how I knew them here if they weren’t people I knew very
well]. I am putting together a read through of this play that I have written. It’s my first
read through and it’s about [insert play topic here]. I would love if you might be able to
join us for the reading as [insert character name here]. I definitely understand if you are
too busy or can’t do it! [Insert some sign off here about Christmas and the holidays].”
The conversation moved from facebook to whatsapp and I eventually set up something more official in an email.
Then: disaster. There were some miscommunications but I ended up essentially at a reading with no actors. This one was late, that one hadn’t fully confirmed, that one hadn’t read the play – the list goes on. It was embarrassing. I felt so small. I had thought if I offered to pay people I would be owed a level of professionalism. And, yes, turning up late for a job is not acceptable. Being disorganised to that extent is not acceptable. However, I also realised that I had not presented myself in a way that prompted people to take me seriously.
5o points for Gryffindor if you can spot all the many ways I could have approached this situation differently.
Here are all the things I said to myself before re-examining the situation:
1) What am I apologising for? Why am I being so meek?
2) I have founded a theatre company and we have taken a production to the Edinburgh
Fringe and had a run at the Actor’s centre
3) I’ve gotten a five star review before! That was exciting.
4) I have written a whole play.
5) I bring a lot to the table. People should want to work with me.
This was my pep talk to myself. What I had done was presented myself in a way that gave people permission to not turn up or to turn up late or not communicate properly.
Try this on for size:
I contact people over facebook, fine. Sometimes that’s the only way to get in touch; but instead the message reads:
“Hi, it’s Steph – hope you’re well. My theatre company Very Rascals is doing a reading of
my new play. Would you be interested in getting involved? Could I have your email so I
can send you over some of the details? Looking forward to hearing from you!”
The communication then jumps straight to email and I can send them the script, set up terms, send out a schedule.
Another 50 points for Gryffindor if you can tell me why this is important.
You don’t get to make a first impression a second time. I approached people asking for a favour and down playing my own situation. The result was a disorganised event. I did eventually organise another reading and it went well (it was super helpful). But, in that first instance, I’d not set myself up as someone to be taken seriously in the eyes of the actors. I hadn’t given myself enough credit. And if I am not going to take myself seriously, why should anyone else?
It was a really important lesson to learn. I hope you take something away from it as well. Take yourself seriously. Treat yourself professionally. You and your work have so much value.