Long before I wanted to be an actor/writer/director/teacher, I wanted to be a cheerleader. Yes! A cheerleader. Suffice to say, that dream was shot down quicker than you can say, “Gimme an A!”
I grew up in the Midwest and back then the only thing scarier for a boy wanting to be an actor was a boy wanting to cheerlead. Well, that didn’t stop me. Sixth graders are very resilient! With head held high and my short shorts pulled higher, I kicked ass auditioning in front of the Kingsbury faculty and snotty team cheerleading captain, Cathy Kincaid (ummmm…all she knew how to do was the splits!).
Back handspring after back handspring didn’t impress. Looked upon like a leper wearing spandex (It was 1980 after all!), I was told that although I was better than all the girls who auditioned (Splits can only get you so far, Cathy Kincaid!) – it was just “too much” to have a boy on a girl’s cheerleading team. Too much what? Drama? Inconvenience? A school having to face their prejudices and fears?
I got a big fat “No” that day. It hurt. Like hell. Someone torpedoed my dream. But I was a determined little shit and I wasn’t going to let that “no” stop me.
I turned to gymnastics instead.
Re-adapt. Re-imagine. Re-invent. Re-assert. Re-design. But don’t ever quit.
Homework: Today you’re probably going to hear a “no.” An agent, a producer, a casting director, someone — is for some arbitrary reason — not going to like you. So what?!!? If you’re getting “no’s” it means you’re doing something right. It means you’re engaging with the world in a way that is actually forcing people to respond to you. It means you’re putting yourself out there and taking risks. It means you’re in the game of life. So seek the “no’s” today. Actually get out there and seek a “no!” So many people give up because they interpret “no’s” as failure. If someone negates you, don’t let it stop you. Just shrug it off and move on. It actually means you’re moving in the right direction.
Watch this two-minute video lesson to remember: None of this is personal!
“I am a performer. That is my life. That is what I am.” — Joan Rivers