“No”

It’s not a secret that you’ll hear the word “no” a lot in this industry. Well, actually, you won’t, at least not outright. No one likes to actually say “no”, which can be confusing (especially for us east coasters who are used to people saying exactly what they mean).

So before I get to the point of this blog post, I’ve come up with a handy little cheat sheet to help those of us who don’t speak LA learn the different ways people say the word, “no”:

WHAT THEY SAY
“You were so fantastic, but at the last minute they went with a name actor…”
WHAT THEY MEAN
“Sofia Vergara has been interested since day one so you have had, at most, a 0% chance of getting this part.”

WHAT THEY SAY
“It’s just not the type of story we’re looking for right now…”
WHAT THEY MEAN
“Do yourself a favor and take a writing class.”

WHAT THEY SAY
“Things are just so busy on my end…”
WHAT THEY MEAN
“I don’t even know you like that, so no, I’m not gonna take a meeting with you.”

WHAT THEY SAY
*radio silence for three months*
WHAT THEY MEAN
“I am way too scared to pick up the phone and tell you we aren’t going to hire you for this job, even though I promised it to you verbally, because I truly do think you’re a great director but the actor the network just attached wants someone else to direct but I don’t want you to hate me because I’m actually pretty insecure, plus I’m worried my boss is gonna fire me because the company is going through some internal changes, and…”

And so on.

Once you carefully examine the evidence and determine that the answer is definitely a “no”, you’re faced with the stark reality that you have been denied- again. Yet again, someone has shut the door in your face. Yet again, the dream that brought you to LALA land has slipped that much further away.

This week, I heard a pretty big ‘no’ regarding a very promising project that was coming together. I won’t lie, it was a tough pill to swallow. But I’ve heard “no” in some form or another many, many times over the past few years, and while I’m not numb to it, it also doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. LA’s a little like the Hunger Games. I truly believe if you stick it out long enough, the odds will eventually be in your favor. 

So you’re allowed to feel sorry for yourself, eat a pint of ice cream and binge-watch the latest season of House of Cards when “that gig that was gonna change your life” doesn’t come to pass, but you shouldn’t stay there forever, or for even more than a few hours.

I called my dad yesterday, and as always, he had some words of wisdom for me:

“You know Kristen, you work really hard. If you worked as hard as you do in any other career, you’d have a full-time position by now. Just like your friend Christina at that tech start-up in San Francisco…”

(I pulled the phone away from my ear and counted to ten.)

“But it doesn’t matter. The word ‘no’ doesn’t work for you, right? So keep moving. You’re doing great kid, keep it up.”

I realized, he’s absolutely right (thanks, Dad). The word “no” doesn’t work for me. Because in my mind, when I hear “no”, all I really hear is “not now”, or “not yet” or, most importantly, “give me a reason to say ‘yes’”.

You’re probably wondering, if this is a blog about Hollywood, why do I suddenly feel like I’m reading a self-help book for salespeople? That’s because, if you decide to work in this industry, chances are you WILL have to sell something. Your skills, your ideas, your brand, your looks, your confidence. Yes, making movies can be wonderfully creative- but it’s also a business, and like any business, you’re going to hear a “no” or two (or five, or ten, or a hundred) from prospective buyers at some point. And you can’t take it personally, you can’t treat it like it’s the end of the world.

Instead, reassess, alter your battle plan, and carry on. That’s what I’m doing right now. May the odds be ever in your favor. 

KB

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7 thoughts on ““No”

  1. Tak for rÃ¥det, Anne. Det er taget til efteretning. *S* Jeg mÃ¥ ogsÃ¥ indrømme at det med st¸iÃmpeprnde er en smule besværligt, hÃ¥ber jeg bliver bedre. *S*

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    1. Sorry, my beloved mom and pop. I just don’t like being treated like a robot someone can program. That’s all.

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  2. I think that was George Lucas’ opinion, as well, when (originally) saying that “the Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.” Your power of belief is stronger than all the “no” they can put up before you, even if the eventual yes does not come in a way you expect.

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  3. You figure people would be more direct and concise in an industry like film and television. That’s odd. I don’t know why these kind of professionals would fight shy of telling the truth. I know what it’s like to have a parent who doesn’t give you full support. My mom doesn’t take me seriously but I’m not gonna beg her to. My dad says cinema is a dying art but he backs me up! It’s really annoying in some families and cultures where parents (especially in old times) would want to choose a profession for you. They haven’t any right to choose a profession for their sons or daughters let alone a spouse. It’s assassination of individuality. I would’ve told my mom and dad to go fuck themselves if that were the case!

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