There are certain things in life that you just simply can not learn in a class, or from a textbook; sometimes experience is the only true form of learning one can receive. It doesn't matter what it is, so long as you absorb the knowledge taken from the action, and then you can put it to use. Such experiences are priceless, and one thing to always remember is that if you have help along the way; you be sure to pay it forward later.
Although I may not have all the answers, and I may not have experienced all there is to learn yet, I have managed to pass on what I do know whenever I can. And that is exactly what I try to do with each episode of Dream Big, or within every column that I write. Occasionally when I am out working on a set somewhere, whether for a movie or television show, I do try and make sure I pass on my knowledge to anyone I meet who is new to the business. As I mentioned earlier, I don't know everything there is to know about the entertainment business, but what I do know I share with others, just as those I have met in the past have passed on their knowledge and experiences to me. It is a wonderful thing to pay it forward, and I hope I have been able to help anyone who has been in need of that little extra inspiration to follow their dreams.
Unfortunately not all experiences are positive ones; occasionally some are unplanned, unexpected, and leaving you at a loss for words. How can you explain to those always looking to the bright side of things that there is also a not-so-pleasant side too? The moment anyone goes out of their way to make a scene, cause embarrassment, or even be just plain rude can cause you to have a bad day.
Circumstances can arise, and spiral out of your control, but if you can maintain your composure then you can learn to let it go. I know it is difficult, especially when you are working as an extra, and someone without the power they think they have tries to insult your intelligence by stating the obvious, and then saying it loud enough for those who are important to possibly hear. I don't care who you are, or what you believe your place is on the "food chain," you should never be condescending to anyone, no matter the circumstance. If someone is doing their respected job, then it should not be a problem to conduct your own self with a little respect. For starters, please reframe from shouting at someone from across the room; actually get up and walk to whom you wish to address, instead of embarrassing the individual you're speaking to, or yourself for that matter. Yes, there are times when it is necessary to shout at someone if they are in danger, or if you need them to do an action of sorts, but if you are only wanting to discuss something that should be done off to the side, then conduct yourself accordingly. As far as explaining this to someone just getting into the entertainment business, this crap can and will happen; and I advise you to simply stand up for yourself in a respectable manner, or find who your production assistant is, and address the incident to them. I promise you that if you are not in the wrong, they will take care of the issue. Take in consideration to not be a whiny baby about every little thing because you want to show that you are strong and independent; do not go to your PA crying to them if it isn't that important, or something you have to suck it up about, such as: you're bored, tired, or wondering how much longer you'll have to sit in holding before being used on set; do not complain about the obvious, and or what is to be expected of you.
One thing that I can say for certain is that you must learn to turn the negatives into positives. It is by far not the easiest of things to do, but you can achieve this with practice. The first thing to consider is why are you doing it in the first place, it doesn't matter what the goal is per say, but how you look at it. With anything in life you take things with a grain of salt, sometimes it makes it easier to choke down when all you want to do is choke. At least if you have a half a glass of water it makes it a lot easier to swallow.
My own experiences thus far working in an industry that can be stressful at times, embarrassing on occasion, and leaves you wondering if it is even worth it. I can not speak for everyone else, only myself, and I ask myself this all the time. There are moments when I'm watching everyone else on set working, and here I am just sitting on the sidelines waiting for my turn; wondering if I ever will. It is all about chance. The chance I may be called upon, or picked out of a crown of hundreds, and only to be herded like chattel from one place to another; to wait once again at a different location even longer. When you are sitting for long periods of time you start to think about what time you had to be up in the wee hours of the morning in order to make the four hour drive just to get there on time, or how long it took to be shuttled to the location, and then the wait it took to be looked at by hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Of course there is also how degrading it can be sometimes when you are never addressed by your name, only as background, or "that extra," or spoken to like an idiot, and then not allowed to use any other toilet inside the building you're in; only the tiny modern outhouses in the parking lot that you have to hurry and walk to and from just in case you are finally called to set because you just never know when you'll be called up to work. And then there are those who are working as background just like you who act like they're better than anyone else and manages to annoy everyone else working. To be honest it's exhausting, it makes my head hurt to think about it. But these are things that no one really talks about, and someone has to be the one to tell it like it is. I feel positively ungrateful for even saying it actually; even a little guilty, but sometimes the truth can hurt, but it can also set you free. Now, it is time to turn that negativity into the positive.
Nevertheless, there is a silver lining within every cloud, and a rainbow always appears after every storm. You must look to the positive from every negative that wants to take over. It can be a painful process working in the entertainment business, especially as a background extra. Here is the silver lining to your gloomy cloud, and I promise the sun will come out tomorrow.
Luck be a lady and if you were chosen from the hundreds of submissions that a casting agent gets then Lady Luck is with you. The first break is being selected from the plethora of individuals who submitted for the same chance like you to work on a movie or television set. This is what you've been waiting for, and it has finally arrived. You have been diligently working on submitting your face and information to possibly several casting agencies, now that hard work has paid off. You are ready to show them what you can do. First things first, arrive on time, don't be late; make sure you have the appropriate attire wardrobe has instructed you to bring, wear to the set your first best choice, pack the rest. Second is to also have hair and makeup on to the best of your ability, also as instructed by email as to what to do to achieve the "look" for your selected character. Third, do as you are told without complaint, unless you have an actual one, but unless you do don't ever complain. This is your moment to shine, do not use this opportunity to be dull at all. You have a great chance to do several things with this, so don't screw up. Here are a few things to remember now that you are where you wanted to be in the first place. Number one: you are on set working; this is first and foremost the most important, and always remember that you want to be an actor. Number two: this is yet another experience to learn from, watch everything that goes on around you; this is also another gig to add to your resume, and experience is key to a fruitful career in acting. Number three: always make new friends; networking is going to become your new best friend, and trust me, you'll be needing a lot of them in this industry, and it is all about who you know. Number four: be grateful; this is something you can never take for granted, and this is what you wanted, but don't even believe it is what is owed to you. Number five: believe in yourself; if you can dream it, it can happen, but you have to know in your heart that it will. Lastly: do not ever let anyone tell you that you won't make it; this includes you, and it is really hard to shut out all the negativity, but you can do it, I believe in you, so believe in yourself.
No matter how difficult it may seem, there is always a way to overcome each hardship as they arise. Do not give up when it gets tough, keep going; learn from the experience, but don't take it for granted. Open your eyes to see the silver lining in everything; believe in the rainbow within, and always dream big.