May I Take a Moment? Last week I had an audition for a role I wasn’t right for but the material was a fun challenge, so I went for it.
The first scene was light, goofy and fun. The second began with a dramatic turn of events—I learn that my teenaged daughter is pregnant.
For all you non-actors, that quick transition from doing a little spin with jazz hands buttoning up one scene, to jumping into a state of blood-curdling anger at the top of the next, is quite the challenge—especially with six sets of eyes watching you like a hawk.
After the laughter dissipated at the end of the first scene, (non-humble brag inserted—you’re welcome) I asked, “May I take a moment?”
Not only was the second scene starting from a very intense place, it had a lot of overlapping dialogue between myself and three different characters, making eye lines and reactions to who’s saying what extra complicated.
Timing was also crucial for this short, heated, fast-paced event, and despite having carefully mapped it out with my coach and doing it a million times beforehand, I totally fell on my face.
I knew it went off the rails early on so I stopped the scene and said, “I’m so sorry but I’d like to start over,” which then led to my asking for another moment before I began again.
My heart was racing despite knowing I did the right thing. Here I was running the show even though my fate of getting the job was entirely in their hands.
If I say so myself, the second attempt went beautifully. I knew I was prepared. I knew it was a scene I could execute well. I also knew it was OK that I made a mistake.
I left that audition feeling proud of myself as an actor, doing my best version of a role I knew I wasn’t right for. But more importantly, I felt proud of owning everything about myself in that room-- flaws and all.
And it got me thinking about the question, “May I take a moment?” and how much easier my life would have been in my twenties and early thirties if I had just owned myself when I used these few words.
Because it isn't that acting teachers over the years never taught me to use this tactic before my mid-30’s, but there’s a difference between asking from a place of fearful unworthiness versus empowered self-ownership.
I thought of all the opportunities I missed as an actor, barreling through a scene poorly because I felt I only had one chance and if I f*cked it up, that was it. And the profuse apologies I’d express to casting directors and acting teachers when we would have to start over, which my fabulous acting teacher Lesly Kahn said felt more like an apology for my existence than the debacle of the actual scene.
This then got me thinking about all the times I said and did things for the benefit of others without owning myself first—putting their well-being before mine.
Events I committed to when I didn’t have the money but, “what would they think?!” if I said no. Plans I didn’t want to say yes to but my people-pleasing self would say, “Can't wait!” And the "I-love-you-too" response I gave a man because "What else could I say?!" without hurting his feelings.
The result? Not booking numerous jobs, accumulating stupid credit card debt, plenty of moody days filled with plans I had zero desire for, and a history of shitty relationships that would give Lifetime scripts a run for their money.
May I Take a Moment? Or “I'm over-scheduled right now so I'll say no to this.” Or “I don’t have the funds to do this currently, but I wish I could be there!” Or, “Saying “I love you” is something I take very seriously and will need more time to figure out if that's what this."
I'll be the first to admit that asking for a moment is still a step outside my comfort zone, but once I'm on the other side, I feel a whole lot freer and….well…a whole lot
So there's that.
Happy Claire Your Mind Monday.