We Are Magicians

Sequoia Houston

As I was perusing Facebook, I ran across this phenomenal video that one of my actress friends shared.  I thoroughly enjoyed Emma Thompson’s perspective and thought she offered great advice. It didn’t feel esoteric and cryptic like some advice we hear from actors who have been doing it so long they simply don’t remember what it was like to get started. It felt fresh, meaningful…and actionable.

I was particularly intrigued by her advice to “never let yourself be defined by how you look”….I know I struggle with this (weight & height). I’d never thought about questioning an established filmmaker and why a role had to be a certain way BUT I did recently have a conversation with an indie filmmaker who wanted me to play a role that had potential but I didn’t think was right for me.

I received a phone call from a young filmmaker who had found my information on Backstage.com. He’d seen my reel and wanted to work with me. The role sounded very interesting – and had some meat – but the challenge was that he wanted me to play the mother of a teenager. I’m still getting called in for teenage roles myself, so I didn’t think that would be the best move for me at this point in my career. I  shared my concerns and asked him if he was open to discussing the role and possibly rethinking ways we could work together to make it “work” for both of us. He was.

While I ultimately never heard from him again, it felt empowering to be a part of the conversation and feel like a contributor rather than a commodity. I think it’s important for actors to remember that we too are filmmakers. We’re a part of the process. When we remember that an audition is simply a meeting for us to go in as consultants and share our perspective on what we think would make this character work, then we can put the control back in our hands and stop making auditions the big, seemingly insurmountable feats. We truly are magicians.

I hope you found her advice as helpful as I did. Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2017!

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