Even Oscar winners have to make it on their own.

You’d think that winning an Oscar would mean you’d get the keys to do anything you wanted to do in the entertainment business, and you’d have a plethora of offers for the best roles rolling in.

But Frances McDormand wasn’t getting what she wanted.

So she sat back, hung out in her Hollywood mansion, and waited for the phone to ring.

Ha!  Wrong.

That’s exactly the opposite of what McDormand did.

Because she wasn’t getting the opportunities she wanted, she went out and made one for herself.

As you can read about here, she got the rights, signed on as a producer, picked the creative team, and of course, prepared herself to star in Olive Kitteridge, the new HBO series.

It was what she wanted to do, so she made it happen.

Because she wears so many hats, some might call Kitteridge a vanity project.  But as I wrote about in this blog back in 2007, a vanity project is only a vanity project if it isn’t any good.  No one calls Star Wars a vanity project . . . even though George Lucas did it all.

I know way too many super talented people out there that are sitting back, waiting for someone to hire them . . . waiting for someone to represent them. . . waiting for someone to give them money.

And sure, it might happen.  But that’s like playing the lottery with your life.  And who wants that?

You’re right.  Someone should hire you.  Someone should represent you.  Someone should write you a big fat check to do whatever you want.

But that doesn’t mean they will.

We live in a DIY world.  There are more ways for you to get yourself and your work out in the world than ever before . . . and for cheap.

So don’t wait.  Take a lesson from the lady with the Academy Award and find a way to get it done yourself.


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  • Roy O'Neil says:

    New Dawn, the musical that just won Best Musical Production at Midtown International Theater Festival was similarly created in this case by group of 20-something actors who decided they didn’t want to wait about for someone to call. They created their own opportunity.

    Much to my chagrin they left my show eating their dust.

  • diana klebanow says:

    re: Frances McDormand
    Are you kidding?
    She is the wife of Joel Coen

  • I strongly believe in this post and wanted to share my story.

    Two years out of college in the ’70’s my best “unemployed actor” job was part time clerking for a theatrical attorney, Harold Orenstein. He heard me complain about my actor audition situation, lack of an agent and what I felt was my lack of real opportunity. He told me that instead of complaining I should “make my opportunities”. He suggested I go out and find a play with a part that was right for me, option it, and produce it myself. He gave me access to written materials (like what you provide daily) on how to produce. I decided I had to give his idea a try.

    I found a play from a novice playwright and began what became a long process of optioning it; producing backer’s auditions; and finally raising part of the money to do it off-Broadway. I was unsuccessful at fully funding it and the project died. But, the process gave me confidence and pride and, most importantly, many new contacts in the New York business side of the theatre world. This new networking introduced me to two full time producers. They asked me to join forces with them to produce a Broadway play from a new playwright, Howard Ashman, who later wrote “Little Shop of Horrors”. They had optioned Hershel Bernardi as the lead. We raised almost a half million dollars and after a reasonable run had lost only $40k.

    But most importantly, I made contacts with agents on a whole new level. The day after the closing of the play I was in our attorney’s office discussing the dissolution issues when an agent called to say they thought my experience and personality would make me perfect as a talk show host on TV and they had an audition set up for me. I had never considered this idea, but armed with their confidence in me, I auditioned and the rest is history. I got the job, won Cable’s first ACE award as talk show host a year later, and won my first Emmy just 2 years after that.

    For the rest of my career I have always been working on a project to create employment for me. Most of the time, something else has come up and provided me a greater opportunity. But working on my own projects has never allowed me to be idle; provided many valuable contacts; and given me the confidence to audition for other’s projects without feeling like getting hired was “do or die”.

    This is the story I share and advice I give to those starting out.

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