“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ”
― Carrie Fisher
On the way home from a callback I was talking shop with another actor friend, discussing current and upcoming projects. He is an extremely talented and fit young man, and works all the time. He recently opened a show I was called back for, but didn’t book. Then he mentioned another show he just received an offer for…
“You got an offer for that?” I huffed, “Oh my gosh I would have died to be in that show.”
He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. “Yea I just kind of stumbled into that audition at the last minute. I haven’t read the play but it sounds cool.”
I deflated. When that show was announced last year I sent a card to the theatre congratulating them on their upcoming season. I booked my audition appointment the hour registration became available. I carried the play around with me for a week and read it over and over. I carefully selected monologues and an outfit. I sent a thank you note after the audition. But at the end of the day, they just didn’t want my nuts.
I sat in the car reminding myself that we wouldn’t be up for the same roles anyway. He is extremely talented and deserves every bit of good fortune he has received. I thought about getting a sandwich at Potbellies, but remembered the billboard there, full of posters of shows I auditioned for. I wasn’t hungry anymore. Then he interrupted my thoughts by mentioning a mutual friend.
“Hey did you hear so-and-so just got cast for a few episodes on that show? Yea he’s been on location and got a cool haircut and everything. Ugh its frustrating. I mean he has an agent and everything, so that helps. I mean of course I am happy about my stuff too, but that lucky bastard.”
No matter what level of success you achieve, there is always someone near by who is a rung up. I look at my friend and see someone who is working with all the store-front theaters I am dying to work for. My friend sees HIS friend working on TV shows he’d love to be on. I’m sure that actor works with someone who just got cast in a big play or a movie that HE would die to be in.
It is so important to keep career-envy in check. There is always someone who you aspire to be like, but there are also people looking at you thinking “Damn, they have it all don’t they?” Overcoming professional jealousy is a topic I’ve explored before. It can bite you in the butt, but its especially pointless when you are jealous of actors you wouldn’t be in the casting pool with anyway.
I am simply a foot soldier in the ARMY of moderately attractive 20-something white girls, auditioning for plays in Chicago. Its a waste of time and energy to wish I were a type that is more in demand. I can’t control my type, but I can control other things. I can control my actor-envy by being genuinely happy for my friends. I can control how I pursue opportunities, and apply for every class and internship I am eligible for. I can keep working on developing a special skills set that will help me stick out from the crowd. I can polish audition packages. I can be persistent. I know its corny, but I can work on being the very best Erin O’Connor I can be. Who else is gonna do it?