Dee Bradley Baker's "All to Know About Going Pro in V.O."

“Nice” Doesn’t Book the Gig

Servant or creator?

Most new to acting are understandably unsure of themselves and see their role in auditioning as being a “people pleaser.” 

“If I smile they might like me and do me the favor of hiring me,” is the thought. “If I’m nice and polite and obedient, if I at least don’t offend, if I just do everything that was asked of me and pleasantly depart, I’ll ingratiate myself to them and they’ll want to sign or hire me.” 

Sorry, but “nice” and needy doesn’t book the gig. 

Would you hire a guy to redo the plumbing in your house just because he’s “nice?” How about a needy dentist who was merely inoffensive and smiled a lot? What about a mechanic who was very polite and just wanted a job? 

When auditioning you certainly want to give a good performance and leave a favorable impression lingering. But your demeanor needs to reach beyond merely being liked or pleasant.

You must realize that you are there not to get something but to make something- to create something useable- and to give it away. Your job whether at an audition or a gig is not to receive or take, but to give away something you make.  

Early in a career, it’s hard to see that your greatest asset is the power of your craft- the thing you make- and the confidence that gives you is. That is what people hire- your power to create and your ability to inspire confidence from that. 

They are not interested in hiring your capacity for being polite, deferential or even thankful. And don’t send them a Hallmark card afterwards. 

It’s easy to think less of yourself as a beginning actor: You receive little attention or respect as you move from audition to audition, rejection to rejection. It can be a long and disheartening journey. But don’t take that struggle to heart and certainly don’t let it influence your creative process or what you bring with you into the room.

As you strengthen both your acting and auditioning skills (each is really a separate “show”), you will come to see auditioning and acting from a different angle- from a more confident and freer position of creative authority, not of servitude or wanting.

Because you realize you are a problem solving specialist not a generic day laborer.

As a creative pro, with a confident grasp of your creative powers, you will not enter the audition room focused on taking something from the wealthy or powerful gate keepers, whose approval you need to validate your worthiness. No! You’re not looking to receive a smile, a nod of approval or even a paycheck. You will enter the audition room ready to create, to give something.

You are not there to sweep up the room and make things neat and pretty.

You are a collaborative problem solver.

There is power in that.

That is what they really want to hire- a confident creator who is smart, engaged, who listens, then conjures something on the spot appropriately incredible, irresistible, thoughtful, funny, daring, surprising— then confidently exits.  

No parting apologies, no fretting over choices, no curtsying. Especially drop any apologizing.

Nobody’s hiring you as a favor. You should never treat booking a gig as if someone were doing something nice for you. In fact, seeing it that way denigrates the entire process and makes you look amateur. 

When you come to see that you are there to give rather than to get- and that the pros hiring you see it this way as well- the entire game changes- in your (and everyone else’s) favor. 

It is frankly a relief, because you see that are free to stop worrying about people pleasing B.S. and can start enjoying doing what you do!

It’s a profound “paradigm shift,” that completely changes how you work and how you engage with those looking to possibly hire you. It improves the workflow of your career as well!

Your focus is where is should be: On the fun and satisfaction of creating something irresistibly awesome and then walking away. 

2 Responses »

  1. […]acting […] causes a lot of anxiety for me. […] in the back of my head I think “ok I probably wont get this”. Is this something I should work to overcome?

    • All actors deal with anxiety or “stage fright.” Whether auditioning on in a show, it is a feature of acting. The more you experience it, the more it can inspire and energize your performance.

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