Back in my former life as an actor, I once drove 5 hours to audition for a summer stock show. The producers needed to cast 7 Black women, and I was worried that the rural location coupled with the low pay wouldn’t attract the talent necessary to ensure the play went up. I wanted to do this show, though, really, and I talked to my grandfather about my concerns. The founder of The Orlons, the legendary Philadelphia doo-wop group, my grandfather is no stranger to performing and auditions. He encouraged me to tell other women about the show and ask them to ride to the audition with me. He said that bands used to do that all of the time back in the day.
When you’re a full-time actor, and your only income is the money you make from being cast in shows…you HAVE to get those jobs. Auditions are important, and having a successful one can be the difference between having your rent money for next month or not. Other actors are competition. Bring my competition to the audition with me? Well, that just seemed ridiculous. The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense. As I reflected on my (at the time) very short career in theater, I had to marvel at the wonderful opportunities that I’d been blessed with. Opportunities that, at face value, I wasn’t necessarily the right actress for the role. Or the best. I started to realize that if a role was for me, I’d get it. If it wasn’t, it didn’t matter who I brought along for the ride…I wouldn’t get the part anyway.
That experience thought me about opportunities and about not worrying about someone else taking my shine. Seriously, the world is big, and there are plenty of chances for folks to be in the spotlight. I truly believe that everyone (who works at it) will get their chance at one time or another. My thing is, I don’t want to miss out on my big moment because I’m spending all of my time hoarding all of the moments…even those that would be better suited to someone else. Looking at my life now, most of the great experiences that I have been blessed with…being an iVillage iVoice, working at Collective Bias, heck, the conference that I met my boyfriend at…I wouldn’t have had if someone else hadn’t shared information with me, if they hadn’t brought me along for the ride.
I’m not saying that it’s always going to be easy, because it isn’t. I still sometimes get the feeling like I want to keep something to myself, because, just like that audition, I want to make sure I get the role, or the job, or the opportunity. But, like they say, if your hand is closed tight around what you already have, how could you possibly hold anything else?