This post is very personal to me because my mother died on June 8th.
She worked for me for 25 years and was at her desk two weeks before she died. She ran the finances of all my businesses so that I could concentrate on being a great casting director and build a successful business.
She did things the old fashioned way and took care of the people that worked for me.
She ran all of my father’s production companies and was smarter with numbers than anyone I ever knew.
She made my accountant’s job easy, did payroll so I didn’t have to pay a service, and knew how to make every dollar work while even handling the taxes herself. She loved numbers. She loved the puzzle of accounting.
I was so lucky. I never asked questions. I knew I could trust her and that she would not only do everything legally, but do everything right as well.
Given all that, as a business owner I should have known more. I never wanted to step on her toes and I thought she would always be there. I knew that if one day she couldn’t do the job then I was screwed.
My mother loved working and also served as the mother and friend to everyone at BMC. She took a huge interest in everyone’s life as well as always having an opinion. You had to earn my mother’s interest and once you had it, you were good. My mother didn’t sugar coat how she felt and could be very sarcastic.
It took time to figure out her sense of humor. She was a little person with a powerful personality. She also loved giving and never expected in return. I am happy to say that I think she gave me a few of these qualities.
Now, on to the most important message to actors, agents, managers and really anyone that wants to be successful.
I was taught responsibility. Nothing comes easy. I worked hard since I was 15 years old. We were not poor but my mother felt that I needed to learn to work. If I earned $20, she would put it in the bank and then give me $5 spending money. I had to earn my allowance . She taught me how important it was to save . My allowance was her money, but I didn’t get it if I wasn’t working.
When I started to work I was told that it was a real life commitment and that I had to take it very seriously. No calling in sick for no reason. No “I’m not in the mood.” People were counting on me and it was an important lesson.
This is the lesson that I write about in almost all of my blogs. Being an actor requires you to be responsible. You have agents and managers working hard for you and I will never understand why you don’t feel responsible to them with your schedule. If it was an office job, you would be fired. Being responsible helps build trust. It also shows commitment. I will schedule an actor that maybe I’m not sure is as talented over an actor that I know is never responsible and hasn’t earned trust. Being in our business doesn’t mean that you don’t have to treat it like business. If a casting director gets two actors submitted, they are both right for the role, but can only see one….who’s going to get the audition? Being in our business, which is creative, doesn’t give you a pass on logic.
I think I have heard the term “getting on a plane” more times than I can count in the last six months. Where is everyone going? How can you afford to always be going away? Why can’t you make a commitment, be responsible, and sit still for a while. I do. I never know when the phone is going to ring with the next job but I make sure I am there to take it. That’s called being responsible and committed to a career choice I made and seeing it through. If every time it got slow I “got on a plane,” I would be out of business. I understand if you get booked on an acting job but maybe 1% of the time that is the case.
Figure out how to be responsible to a career choice you have made and give it a chance. Inform the people that are working hard for you of your schedule. Be patient, sit still, and give it a chance to work. As a casting director, I notice the pattern with the people that refuse to take five minutes out of your day to inform your agent or manager of your schedule. Everyday. I also remember the responsible actors and if I have a last minute session, which happens often, I remember who’s responsible and it works in you favor. Agents should not need to call you to find things out. You probably send 50 e-mails a day. This might be the most important one. Summer is usually busy and in the past, August is great. There is a nice amount of SAG work right now. Why would you think a summer vacation is more important? When you are famous, you will have plenty of time for vacations. Make a commitment, be responsible. If this business is a hobby, you need to be honest. Honesty is huge.
So I thought I would share the best lesson that I got from my mother – be responsible. It worked for me.