I had a very interesting experience recently. I reconnected with a coaching client from about three years back – he called me to coach on some material. I vaguely remembered him, but it had been three years with no contact. He came into focus for me when he arrived at my door. He was a smart cocky kid, and a recent graduate of a very prestigious university acting training program. He seemed to be going somewhere. He carried himself with a sense of destiny, inevitability, and confidence. One of the young “invincibles”. He was also represented by a very good manager at the time, who often refers folks to me. I hadn’t seen him in 3 years and he reached out to coach.
When he arrived we chatted – prior to getting to work on the material he wanted to coach on. I asked what he’d been up to since I saw him last. He began to tell a very familiar tale. He came out here from an excellent (and highly regarded) college training program for actors, got hooked up immediately with a very good manager and started to get up for some top projects. And…nothing happened. He did not catch fire immediately, as I believe he thought was his due. So he started shopping around for other representation (thinking that was the issue) – and got it. He was sent out a lot, again, and once again didn’t really book anything significant. His new agent put him “on the shelf” after a few months of his not booking, and eventually dropped him. He’s been in the “wilderness” for 3 years with no representation, and is fighting his way back. In fact, he was coaching with me to audition for his old manager (who he dropped), hoping that she will take him back. He’s been working on her to get this face-to-face meeting for….ONE YEAR. I give her credit for giving him another chance. And I give him credit for his persistence. He has no Plan B if she doesn’t take him back.
This young man, who was so cocky and sure of himself when I met him, had been humbled. What he saw as his destiny ended up not coming to pass – yet. He is now older (26), wiser, a bit sadder, but still quite talented and somehow changed by the humbling he experienced. He got A LOT of good opportunities early on that did not pan out. This happens. This kind of thing happens to all actors – the not-so-great, the good, and the excellent. It is a capricious business and his cockiness made him believe that this was all his manager’s fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It. Just. Is. This is sometimes the way it goes for people – even very talented ones.
He gained perspective. He gained wisdom. He’s a much fuller human being than he was three years ago when I originally met him. He’s not bitter. He’s smart, dedicated, humble, and hopeful. I wish him all the luck in the world.
The lesson: Sometimes the grass is greener. Sometimes it’s not. And when there’s a drought, it’s hard to know why the grass is not green.