May 1, 2013

The Power Of Saying 'No'

So, I've been pretty vocal about the fact that I'm trying to break out of the co-star level and move up to shooting guest stars. I've been auditioning at the guest star level pretty consistently for the last several months, which is great. I've discussed no longer accepting co-star auditions but every now and then, I'll go in for a co-star as long as I have something to gain from it, whether it be great footage because the scene is decent, or using it as an opportunity to meet a new casting director that I've never been seen by. Being new to LA, taking the occasional co-star audition has been especially helpful as evidenced by my previous post.

What is more difficult, is learning when it's time to say no. Even though I'd resolved not to go in for co-stars anymore, I've just explained a number of situations where I went back on my word. A couple of weeks ago, I learned a great lesson about finally saying 'no'.

One of my first auditions when I got to LA was for a guest star role on a hit cable show. I got a callback and didn't get the part. I didn't see that CD again until a few weeks ago. He brought me straight to producers for a recurring guest star role. I went in and nailed my audition. The next day, my manager called to tell me that they decided to book someone else for the part but because the producers loved me, they offered me another part. A co-star role that didn't even have a name. It was one of those characters that was called WAITRESS/HOSTESS/CASHIER/etc., you know what I'm saying. One scene, about 5 lines if I remember correctly.

I was disappointed. Once again, I was being told that I was great and that the producers loved me, but once again, I was NOT being booked for the part that I needed to get to that next level. I had just dealt with a similar situation that I discussed in my last post, and even though I had gained a bit from that situation, I still felt that I had to compromise myself for it. I didn't want to do that again.

So, I politely declined the role.

My manager supported my decision 100% and told me that he felt I was doing the right thing. I was never going to move up if I kept doing co-stars.

And then...something miraculous happened.

My manager called me back about an hour later and told me that the producers were disappointed that I'd turned down the role and really wanted to work with me. As a result, they added more lines to the scene, gave the character a name, and bumped the credit up to a guest-star! They were also interested in using my character in a slight story arc for one of the leads so there was a possibility that the role would be recurring.

So, my agents and manager negotiated my guest star quote and I accepted the role. MY FIRST GUEST STAR!!! I was so happy that I cried.

The week after shooting my guest star role, I was booked for another episode and I now have a recurring guest star credit. Just like that! I can't name the show right now, but I will let you guys know when the episodes air later this summer. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that the producers bring me back for more work.

The lesson that anyone can take away from my story is that, at some point, you have to make the choice to no longer accept things that aren't moving you forward.

Have you done 10 student films or indie films for free and you're ready to start getting paid for your work? Say no to that next audition for a no-pay project. Start reserving your audition time for work that pays. Yes, things may slow down for you for a bit, but that's the only way you'll move forward.

It's scary to say no to an opportunity, but not every opportunity will benefit you. You have to learn to make that distinction.


  1. I love this posting especially the last part about the student films, I am in the same position. Tryna get the paid work now. Keep at it! I also cant wait to see that show that you will be in.

  2. You did right! And look where it got you. dont be afraid to say no.

  3. Hope to see you on the tv soon, btw what are good affordable areas in La? I expect to move

  4. Thanks Ryan. You WILL get there! My student film days aren't too far off, lol.

    Thanks D.W.!

    Kleo, thank you! As for affordable areas, I have no clue. I've only lived here for a couple of months and I still don't know all of the neighborhoods. I'm sure there are other online resources that can better assist you.

  5. Fantastic! So happy for you, both for having the conviction for making a hard call, and for the amazing result! I have done a year of student and non-paying films (in NYC) and this post really helps me see the forest for the trees, and resist the... allure of keeping busy with projects that will never take me to the next level. Keep going, I'm rooting for you!

  6. Congratulations Andrea! I'm not quite at the level where I can be too choosy, but I'm definitely inspired by your success! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Its so rare that I will find actors offering advice and a breakdown of how the business works. Wow you know so much and I hope to learn and be at the level where I tell people "No" lol.

    Please keep telling more.

  8. Can you talk about commercials? I am curious about these aspects.
    -Are they door openors to work such as Tv/Film?
    -Do agencies take people who have no credits and reel as long as you have a commercial class?

  9. Thanks to everyone for the kind and supportive comments! I've said no to auditions in the past, but I've never turned down an actual job offer before. Luckily, it paid off.


    Carl: The short answer to your first question is no, not really. The only way that I can think of commercials opening doors to tv/film is if your commercial agent introduces you to a tv/film agent at their agency. But we all know that having an agent doesn't guarantee that you'll book work.

    For your second question, agents take on actors for commercial rep under all manner of circumstances. Some are very picky about classes, some aren't. When I signed with Buchwald, I had never taken a commercial class and they didn't care. I had booked a handful of non-union commercials and they liked my look and personality. I still have never taken a commercial class.

    Yes, you can get an agent without any commercial credits or a reel. And for the record, I don't know anyone that actually has a commercial reel.

  10. Just came across your blog. Loved it. I went through this similar issue three years ago, and now for the past few years the auditions have been mostly leads or guest stars because i took on that challenge of saying no. And now it feels like ages ago. Just have to take that initial step.

    You can follow my blog if you are interested at:

  11. That's great to hear proudtobeanactor! I'll check out your blog, thanks for sharing!

  12. Your blog is amazing I feel so inspired and I'm proud with my own career and how it is growing. I agree about moving forward right now I have done 4 student short films for NYU and Columbia and I plan on doing 1 more short film then get my reel together and start looking for paying jobs that will allow me to grow. Thanks so much for creating this blog and sharing your knowledge and experience.
    I do have one question are there some survival jobs in NYC that you recommend?

  13. How do you deal with blank time, meaning there is no working coming in for days, it drives me nuts.

    Also when is the next entry?

  14. Devin: Congrats!!! As for survival jobs, I've always worked as a model and a waitress/hostess.

    Daye: I have a blog post going up tomorrow morning that will address this. Thanks for the inspiration! :)