by Casting Director, Laurie Records
…underestimate the value of being nice.
I’ve always wanted to write a column on the importance of being “nice”. But, it’s hard; surprisingly hard to articulate why I believe it is one of the most important things you can do for your career. And yet, it’s one of my favorite things to preach. What I’d like to (simply) say is…
ACTORS: BE NICE. ALWAYS.
If I had to expand, I’d say…
JUST TRUST ME ON THIS.
When pushed, I’d add…
YOU WILL BE HIRED NOT ONLY FOR YOUR TALENT, BUT OFTEN TIMES, BECAUSE YOU ARE A JOY TO HAVE AROUND.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS OBVIOUS WHO WILL PLAY AN INSTRUMENTAL ROLE IN GETTING YOU WORK/FURTHERING YOUR CAREER… YOU NEVER KNOW WHO ANYONE WILL BECOME, WHO ANYONE KNOWS, etc.
Commercial actors should never neglect to be nice. BE NICE. ALWAYS.
I believe that waaaaay back in my days as a stage actor in Seattle, I was fortunate enough to be cast regularly, not because I was hands down the most talented 5’4” spunky brunette in town, but because directors wanted me around. Why? Well, because I was a nice gal (and was a hard worker, talented, reliable, blah, blah, blah… but so were a LOT of other spunky brunettes). The truth is, I was fun to have around! I believe often times I get work as a casting director for the same reason. I’m nice… and certainly all the blah, blah blah, but *nice matters*. It does for me and it does for you.
Enough about me…
Be nice. There is power in being nice. It’s easy to feel helpless as an actor. There are factors that are out of your control (and plenty of things that ARE in your control… don’t walk into that pity party) and it’s imperative that you “control what you can control” (another favorite concept). You control how you treat people. You control how you conduct yourself. You control your attitude, how you relate to people, how generous and lovely you are. You control how much you smile and laugh everyday… and I promise you, this impacts your career. There is power in being nice.
Be nice. It’s a small world, and an even smaller town. Actors who live in a small market have an advantage in understanding this concept, because it’s obvious. I write from a Los Angeles perspective and the notion is a little harder for LA actors (and actors in other large markets) to grasp. No matter how daunting and large the industry seems, it’s a small, small-interconnected group. Word travels. Your reputation will and does precede you. Industry professionals talk to each other. Let’s face it, people in general talk, talk, talk… I charge you to make sure they are saying only fantastic things about you, because that’s all there is to say.
Be nice. People surround themselves with (read: HIRE) people they like. You will be hired because people want you around; want you on their team. Be the best possible human being you can be, and you will prove that nice guys/gals do win. You know that commercial casting directors receive a request list from production, don’t you? Who is on those lists? Personal friends of the director/producer AND nice people they have worked with previously (yes, even their former PA’s).
Be nice…especially on set. Yes, I just made that same point above in broader terms, but mentioning specifically “on set” is important. If you are a lovely, kind, prepared, genius on set, the same director will hire you again. Trust me on this. If you are merely talented on set, it’s not nearly as certain. If you are talented but difficult on set, it’s unlikely.
Be nice. Fake it ‘til you make it… to a happy place. Here’s where I get a little kumbaya, folks. I believe there is value in pretending/faking nice, if necessary. Do what you have to do to put on a happy face. But ultimately, nothing beats a person who is nice from a genuine place. How do you become a genuinely nice person? Well, aren’t we all trying to figure that out! But it isn’t rocket science to imagine that it comes from being content in one’s own life. Being grateful. Enjoying the big and little things… and the quality people that surround you. This may be the most meaningful point of the column. Find genuine joy in your life and it will shine through you.
Be nice. It will set you apart.
Laurie Records, Casting Director