“Be like water making its way through cracks…adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. Be water, my friend.”
I never expected to kick off a piece about me with a quote from someone as wise as Bruce Lee. (My senior quote in high school was, “What’s the matter Colonel Sanders? Chicken?”) That eighteen-year-old Mel Brooks fanatic had no idea what the next several years would throw at her.
“No. Sorry, not this time. Need a bigger name. Not old enough. Too much. Not enough. Nope.”
I’ve been fortunate to work as a professional actor for the past ten years, and to be honest the “no’s” don’t get easier. There are several ways one can deal with rejection. Here are three:
2. Take up knitting and try not to think about it.
3. Make your own work.
I’ve done all of these things in the face of “no.” Don’t get me wrong, knitting is awesome, but the best I have ever felt was when I decided to give myself the “yes” and create my own opportunities.
On a whim in 2013, I auditioned for a cabaret venue in Wicker Park called Davenport’s. I had written two parodies for fun and sang them for their booking manager. She asked if I could have a show ready by August. “Sure!” I naively replied. All summer, I rewrote lyrics to fit the show I was creating. I spent hours writing in a coffee shop in Kalamazoo by day and performing an entirely different show by night. I don’t think I’ve ever been more terrified than when I finally stepped into the space and performed my own words for forty-four minutes straight. From 2013-2015, I performed six variations of that show. One was an expanded seventy-minute show to a sold-out crowd in my hometown and another I took to the Metropolitan Room in New York City.
“No.” Okay, then I’ll learn comedy writing at The Second City!.
“Nope.” Alrighty, on-camera classes it is!
“Maybe next time.” Hello, NYC!
“Nah.” Short-form comedy!
“Bye.” I think I’ll learn screenwriting!
This fall, I’m launching the third season of my award-winning comedy web series, “NewB!” It’s been a ton of work and a massive learning experience, but it’s made me a better person and artist. The community that has formed around this thing is extraordinary – a family of actors, musicians, creators, filmmakers, fans, collaborators. I could not be luckier to make comedy with them.
The way I’ve chosen to move through life is by saying, “yes” to myself. I never imagined what I’d get in return: an ever-growing network of talented and glorious people, skills I never thought I’d master, a body of original work, and so many more opportunities than I could’ve dreamt.
“Water off a duck,” my dad always says. I choose to let the rejection roll off and forge a path where there wasn’t one before.
*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Erin. 52 Phenomenal Women is now in its second year! This is week 1 of 52.
Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***
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