By Allen Levin
Last night Sherri Shepherd was our guest speaker. What an amazing night! What an amazing and inspirational message. She kept coming back to the message “It’s not about you. It’s about what you can give.” She was teaching that this is a great management system for nerves, alleviating fear, and the need to prove things to people, particularly at an audition. Stop trying to show people how good you are and instead illustrate how you can help them. What void do you fill? Illustrate what you bring to the role. Know who you are and deliver your truth. Sherri was on fire. She was as good as any guest speaker we’ve ever had. From the moment she began she was electric!
Many of you guys got great notes and paid attention. Many of you realized what was happening in the room and you’ll reap great rewards from last night. Go to her one actor show this weekend, where she is comping all Lifebook actors a free ticket. See the show. Continue this journey. She’s awesome. I’ve seen the show. It’s excellent. Largely what follows isn’t for you, but go ahead and review what’s said anyway. I’d be preaching to the choir if this article was pointed at you. It’s not, but lets read on.
I find myself a bit frustrated. A couple of our actors actually left at the break. This dumbfounded me. One of my actors at least had the wherewithal to ask me if it was ok if they left. I strongly “advised” them to stay. I said, “Why would you leave?” “Because I have another event tonight.” No. You don’t have another event. Nowhere in LA was there wasn’t an opportunity as big as this one. We found ourselves in a great position where a successful and honest talent is this accessible and sharing the gems you need to move forward. She was candidly answering any question asked. It took me a YEAR to get her to guest speak at our class. You think you have another event? This IS the event of the month, easily. You don’t leave. You get focused. You pay attention.
We need a wake up call. We need to understand what’s right in front of us. For anyone to consider leaving when Sherri was giving as much as she was, take another look at this career. Do you really want this? If you do, you need to get present. Let’s focus in and accept the selfless and excellent advice that’s coming our way. We need to be able to easily identify when we are in the right place. For the students who left early, contact me immediately. I need to determine if I able to help you or are you a lost cause? I need to hear what pulled you away from this night. Contact me today. Let’s problem solve.
This writing is much more carefully being constructed as I don’t want to offend but I do want to tell us all, let’s wake up. Yep. This is the edited version, gang. For those of you that realized last night was a great big night for you, you’ll be moving forward and that’s awesome. For those of you that found yourselves bored, you deserve to be yelled at. If anyone knows me, that’s not my style. I won’t be coming in and throwing my water bottle and yelling (as I’ve seen other coaches do) but I can feel the desire. I won’t be grabbing you by your shoulders and shaking you until you have to pay attention.
One of my actors that left early last night ALWAYS has drama. His life is always terrible. There are always complaints. His entire game is to try to get sympathy. The funny thing is he’s talented! No one would hire him. No one. He is, in a word, insufferable. If he doesn’t start paying attention to the path I have him on, he will simply quit without achieving the career he deserves. If you ask him how he’s doing he’ll say, “Terrible. I’m REALLY sick!” Or “You won’t believe the traffic I just sat in! Over 2 hours!!” or “My mom is a pain in the ass!! Can you believe that she….” It doesn’t really matter what he says as his aim is to get you to be moved by just how fucking difficult his life is. It’s a joke. It’s all about him. He also doesn’t typically let you speak or offer any encouragement. He’ll talk over you as he’s most interested in his thoughts. He’ll talk over a movie to tell you the first time he watched the movie what he was thinking, even though this is your first time seeing the movie. This is the type of actor that needs to wake up. Change is possible. Without it they simply won’t work.
He left last night because he had some personal bullshit he couldn’t leave outside. To the student I’m referring to, if you can identify that this is you, that’s fine. It’s important that you understand that I believe in you. I’ve told you these things directly. Review them here indirectly. You can’t come to tonight’s event. You need to sit and consider these things. If you don’t, you simply will not have the career you deserve. You deserve a big one! You are loaded with talent. It’s sad and disappointing that you can’t get past yourself. Perhaps you should know, most of the time when you corner me to talk, I give the first excuse I can and I get out of there! I’ve faked phone calls at events. I simply can’t bear to speak to you. I want you to change. I want you to become a people person so that others will actually see your talent. If you think this is you, contact me privately. In the meantime, if you attend any outside our theatre events, I’ll need to send you home. I need to see real improvement.
Remember gang, sometimes you won’t like what I have to teach you. You pay me for what you don’t know. You pay me to help you change and grow. You pay me so that more people will hire you. I had an actor quit class on Monday just before the night class yelling at me to stop trying to change them! If you didn’t want to change (and grow) why would you be in class in the first place? We all need change. We need growth. This isn’t going to be an easy path. Be able to take information that’s tough to deliver to you. Be able to be open to the fact that you may not be a perfect being, ready for the big leagues. We all need to be direct-able when a director has the right intent. Mine is simply for you to get more work and to be a giving part of a community of artists.
Educate yourselves so that no matter what personal things you have happening, you can leave them outside the door. Get focused. Take notes. Be inspired. Anyone who attended last night and wasn’t inspired, we need to shift gears. You need to wake up. Last night was amazing! I got some thank you notes from people that got it. I appreciate those. That’s how it should be. Reach out to her and thank her as well. You can do so using social media. She was a great blessing. I just hope we can all realize the gift we were given and take it with us as we move forward. Soon you guys will be giving back the way she did last night. Those of you that understand this lesson and allow it to become a part of your strategies, there will be a day you’ll come back to Lifebook and be a guest speaker. Let’s hope your day is as amazing as Sherri’s was. I bet it will be!
Any questions or concerns this blog has brought up, please contact me. It isn’t my intent to alienate or offend. I want us to become aware. Let’s learn together. Remember Sherri’s message, “It’s not about you.” Let’s get our attention off of ourselves and take in the gifts that are around us. Let’s use the inspiration and go book that next job. We absolutely can if we can just see past our own noses. Get interested in others. Listen. Apply. “It’s not about you. It’s about what you can give.” Do you have a voice? Are you interested in helping movies and television productions with filling roles they need cast? If so, some of us do need to shift gears.