Following last week’s post, Disassociation, I thought I’d tell you about something I did this week to help boost my confidence.
One of my oldest friends is a brilliant and successful (clever dude that he is) casting agent. He was actually my first ever boyfriend, aged 15 and we’ve remained friends for the last 20+ years. He casts most of the ads you see on TV as well as a whole host of other things like music videos etc and is one of those people who had a plan and stuck to it and made a success of his life. How do people do that?
My friend, Mike, sent me a message explaining that he was casting in Manchester for a Cadbury’s ad and would I like to come along? What proceeded was approximately 6 hours of him coaxing and cajoling me, explaining how little was actually required and how easy it would be.
The part would be well paid and being broker than broke, I was so tempted but my confidence was screaming ‘you cannot do this, they’ll all laugh at you, you’ll be rubbish’. Blah blah blah. You may be familiar with that kind of cr*p yourself.
Now, you may be thinking, ‘didn’t you do some kind of theatre degree?’. Well, no. I did a performance art degree which was very artsy and self-involved and confusing (in the best way). It was the greatest time of my life, but a performance art degree in now way prepares you for TV. Want to watch something bonkers about politics and sexual revolution, I’m your girl. Need me to be Cashier No. 2 and I’m a jibbering wreck.
Mike finally won me over when he said Teddy could come too if he wanted as he was also casting a child for the ad. Somehow this swayed it for me. I knew I’d feel much braver with him there. Isn’t it strange, that my child being there would make me feel more able to do something that 6 hours before I felt totally ill equipped for?
I spoke with Teddy and he loved the idea. People often assume Teddy is shy and perhaps a bit of a scaredy cat, but he’s not. He may not be boisterous or extroverted but he’ll give most things a go. So the next day, Teddy and I traipsed into the city centre and headed to Eden Studios, which is nicer than my house. There were plenty of people waiting their turn, a mix of children and women. Hearing us arrive, Mike came out to greet us, wrapping us in big hugs and making sure Teddy was ok. I felt sorry for everyone else in the waiting room who at this point must’ve thought they’d had a wasted trip because we were clearly good mate’s with the casting agent. Little did they know, we had absolutely zero experience or ability.
The casting itself was fun. I wasn’t nervous at all which took me by surprise. I was just chatting and messing about with a friend who’s seen all sides of me before so there was nothing to be embarrassed about. Teddy was also quietly very confident and comfortable. He took direction so well and wasn’t at all phased by the camera or the screens. Mike is great at putting people at ease, that’s his job, but even so, Teddy handled it all fantastically for a five year old.
I was so proud of us both. It was a big deal for me to even say yes, let alone actually go through with something that made me so nervous and Teddy, well, watching him ‘act’ made my heart burst – as it has done a million times since he was born.
Teddy is super excited to be on TV. We haven’t necessarily got the part and if I was a betting girl, I’d bet my house that we won’t get it. There were far more qualified and capable people there but it was an adventure that we went on together and that in itself is enough.
I showed Teddy about bravery in the face of nerves. But it was Teddy who really taught me something. He showed me how to just say yes, without overthinking; that life is about grabbing new experiences by the horns and going for it.
I’m not expecting to get the part but I am so glad we did it. The money would be incredible, we desperately need it, but I’m just happy that I pushed myself and eternally grateful for friends who encourage me to do things that scare me but ultimately help to build my confidence a little bit at a time.
If you’re stuck, or anxious or not putting yourself forward for things, I urge you to do something that makes you uncomfortable because it will do the most for your self esteem. It will never be as bad as you think. It will be better. It will be rewarding. You can do it.
For now, cheers, Mike. We’ll await our cheque.