I remember a lawyer friend of ours getting let go from his job and he said he had nightmares about not passing the bar exam — until he found another job! He marveled at us, being in the unstable business of “show,” living with and growing, thriving even, thru every rejection.
In my youth, every door I knocked on seemed to open up. Broadway? Yeah! Been there/done that! Actually, fired from my first Broadway Show (that’s another story), but I went on to do others — even bigger and better classics! So, I grew past that first childhood sting. Getting fired. Shows closing. You get used to it in show business.
National name in Television? Yeah! Been there/done that — and — when everyone knows your name and you get fired? That’s an even longer — and more public — failure (see my History Lessons 1, 2 & 3 for the full account). I did NOT, however, go on to do other television projects so . . . no. I have not fully recovered from that sting. I have, however, grown through that rejection. How? Where did I end up that put the mirror up to me? Who was I really? Young, yes. Pretty, yes. Loved by the “fans?” Yes. But who was I? Really?
Lesson #1: Nurture your true friends.
We all need friends, right? And when you start at the bottom meeting others who are languishing at the bottom; or digging ditches (metaphorically speaking) with you; those may just turn out to be the lifelong friends who don’t care if you’re a national name or not. My friends before fame were my friends after fame. My husband stayed and supported and talked me down from climbing the walls when I needed it.
Lesson #2: Know and Recognize Your “Enoughness”
This is big for actors. You can learn technique. You can have fabulous headshots and demo reel, but if your mindset is off? Casting smells it. Musta happened to me. I was young. I was trained. I was nailing auditions (I lost to Yale graduates). I just could not get cast again. Wow. What is going on here? At this point I had two babies to feed so sticking with “unstable” was not an option anymore.
Sub-lesson: Listen to your mother!
Mine made sure I could type. And when computers came along, I learned how to get a letter out of a second-hand one I bought on the street just so I’d get paid $3 more per hour! Eventually I ended up in a law firm. Now THAT job taught me my “enoughness.” They didn’t care if I was pretty. They didn’t care if I could charm the birds out of the trees. If I couldn’t produce a perfect brief in time for the courts, I was gone. I watched many a lovely little thing last a week or so. Gone. I was there twelve years. They raised my family with security and let me off for every graduation and/or sick day. Plus, they paid me more than I had ever earned before and matched my IRA every year! Wow. Great job.
Then my boss (Senior Partner for over a decade) died of cancer. Same thing happened in that high-profile television job actually. However, I was able to deal with this transition a whole lot better. I knew my “enoughness.” I knew what I could bring to the table. I know my worth.
Lesson #3: Nurture your Network
As we age, we gather quite a lovely group of business associates. Talent lies everywhere! Watching my own daughters grow into their “enoughness” was just about as good a lesson any mother needs.
When I hit corporate “retirement” age and left the law firm, what was I to do with all these newly acquired skills?? The world of theater had changed. Social media was taking over, and I knew very little about any of it. Another girlfriend, also a former actress, and I started to join and volunteer our skills to our theatrical unions and other theatrical organizations in NYC. Being so computer literate, I started delving into “testing” social media.
Wow. That national name I had? Fans remembered me! How nice is that after all these years? No idea where that would go, but hey, at least I wasn’t forgotten on the cutting room floor! So, I continued nurturing my little/large network of fans and friends, building and nurturing my world — for what? I had no idea.
Lesson #4: Open That Door of Opportunity
What does opportunity even look like when it presents itself? I kind of equate it to meeting my husband. Even tho my mother (and most of Broadway) thought our affair at such a young age was “wrong,” it just felt “right.” We just celebrated our Golden Anniversary, so I guess we did something “right.”
When I was asked in 2006 if I’d ever lived at The Rehearsal Club, I said “Yeah, but who cares, it’s gone, right?”
Fast forward to today. Following up on what that question might offer — and what I might be able to contribute along the way, has resulted in our publishing “Cinderellas of West 53rd Street: Stories from the Legendary Rehearsal Club.” It all started because I and few others wanted to write our early stories while living at The Rehearsal Club. The journey to publication has been a lot like my life! Lots of rejection along the way, but I stayed the course, using all those skills I’d learned at the law firm to lead our women to where we are now.
Lesson #5: Savor the Victory
If you’ve ever auditioned and got the job, you know the feeling. Success! What a delicious feeling!
Savor it. You earned it. But know that the work has only just begun. Yes, we’re publishing a book, but who cares? Who even knows what The Rehearsal Club was before it closed in 1979? Welllll, I’ll tell ya. The brick-and-mortar building may have been destroyed, but the friendships made in the trenches lasted. See Lesson #1.
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