Know Your Worth
Today is a sick at home day for me. I have laryngitis, aka I literally can’t speak. It’s like that nightmare where you open your mouth to scream and nothing comes out, ALL DAY.
Although on the plus side my pantomime skills are getting pretty darn good: Getting a morning coffee was kind of like playing Pictionary with the entire coffee shop.
I’m going somewhere with this, don’t think I’m not::
SO the bonus of the past few sick-at-home days is a lot of forced me time. Which means a LOT of great movies.
In particular a documentary called Twenty Feet From Stardom, which is about backup singers and some of their struggles to move out of the background and into the spotlight. The doc focuses on a few women in particular who just kept trying to crack their way in and either never ‘made it’ or didn’t make it until they were in their 60’s or 70’s. For some of them it was simply finding a way to believe they were good enough and interesting enough to BE the centre of attention, instead of the backup vocals.
The entire documentary is pretty awesome, but the one moment that really hit home for me was when Dr. Mable John, a blues vocalist and one of Ray Charles’s Raelettes, puts the individual stories in a larger context:
“We in the music industry we need to know our worth; we need to know, as women, we’re important. I think the breakdown is, when a woman doesn’t know what she is and she settles for less. Check out your worth because you’re worth more than that.”
Holy mama! That is a transferable lesson to acting if I ever heard one.
As actors, especially female actors (and no I will never use the term actress, but that’s a whole other blog post), it is imperative to OWN who we are and what we’re ‘worth’. Why? Because our self worth is challenged A LOT: By ourselves, by the industry, by what’s deemed ‘marketable’ in society and a million other moments that make us question ourselves at auditions, meetings, rehearsals… Let’s just say it’s a LONG list.
WOMEN have enough of a challenge trying to hold onto their self worth, but a woman who is also an actor… forget about it.
It’s all too easy to focus on what we can’t control about ourselves in this industry: I’m getting older, I’m too short, I’m FAT, I keep getting told I don’t have a ‘face for TV’, my voice is too low (oh yah, they can get absurd)
OR worse, what we THINK we can’t control:
The casting director hates me, I’ll never be on that show because I have short hair (guess who owns that one ), I just can’t get a new agent no one will see me because I guess I’m just not good enough
OR even worse still, what we THINK is important and really isn’t:
Everyone is wearing army fatigues at this audition, WHY didn’t I wear my camo pants?!; That agent asked me to meet over coffee, but I hate coffee, should I drink it anyway because he is??; if I want that part I have to take my top off in one scene, I don’t really want to but I guess I have to if I want to keep the role!
Blech. Am I right? Insecurity is easy to focus on.
What if we all decided to challenge these thoughts of ourselves and the industry? What if we ‘checked out our worth,’ realized we are important, unique and able to achieve a LOT and then never settled for less than we are?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying ‘Hey suckers! What’s wrong with you? Banish your insecurities! It’s easy!’ That’s insane. I’m saying what if we all found a way to say, ‘Despite my insecurity I know I am a damn good actor, I know who I am (the good parts and the awful parts too), and I refuse to settle for less than I deserve from myself and from everyone around me. Because I am capable of great things.”
I want to audition with a bunch of ladies who go after their careers like THAT. And I want the ‘industry’ to open the casting room door and be met with women like THAT waiting to come in.
Laryngitis to your worth as a human being.
Makes sense to me.