R. E. S. P. E. C. T.
How I Learned to be an A-List Actor
"THEY'RE ONLY DOING SCENE 2! GOD!!!!", gawked an actor who stormed out of the audition room. Not 15 seconds later emerged a older gentleman that watched as the disheveled auditionee left. "Well...", he says to us, the remaining actors, "... when you leave after your audition, you might want to close the door." Obviously irked by the heated actor, he turns back into the room and (with a purposeful 'thud') the door did close behind him. Turns out he is the executive producer for the project. I guess that actor won't be getting a callback, nor called back... ever. "Wow", I think to myself.... "I just watched a bridge get burned."
Today has been a very interesting day, .... I... ahhh...... well.... had to blacklist someone out of my life. And as the story is what the story is, the lesson I got to learn is of immeasurable value. I got to learn what that foundation is, of who you are as a person, must be in order to grow into an A-lister in our industry.
This is a story about a little thing called: Respect.
Cut to 2 months ago: 3 days after my birthday actually. I get a text message from a friend (we'll call her 'Stacy'.... why not?). Stacy has a problem. She's with her co-creator out on a shoot.... (we'll call her co-creator 'Candi'........ because.... why not?) They have 30 people at a location to shoot 12 pages in 6 hours, and their audio doesn't work. Pretty big deal. Like disaster-laden big deal. Like entire-shoot-getting-re-scheduled-with-30-peoples-schedules-and-conflicts big deal. This is bad. So...
Stacy contacts me and explains the situation. I have gear that I know works fine, so I tell her to send someone over and I'll bring everything up there to help the shoot. I got rid of my car a year ago, and do a mix of public trans, uber, lyft, and a whole lot of walkin'. Works great! Except in situations like this. So getting someone over here is the fastest route to take, as they're thankfully and literally 3.2 miles away from my house.
Candi picks me up and we go over to the shoot. I'm actually still in my pajamas and wearing flip-flops, since I had no time to change. We hop into the house and I meet everyone and run boom for the first few shots training a wonderful young lady how to run all the equipment. After she is comfortable with it, I end up needing to leave. Since they are shooting 12 pages in no time at all, I opt to just walk home (I walk a lot! It's not that far guys.. seriously.) as having Candi take me back would be detrimental to the shoot and I have plenty of time available. No big deal, everyone is happy, and the shoot moves forward.
That night Stacy texts me back to schedule bringing the equipment back. I was out and not at my house for the night, but we decide to meetup the following day at 6:30pm back at my house.
The next day at 6:33pm I'm walking up to the house and Stacy is already there... I've wasted her time, I'm late! AHHH!!! I thank her for running by and she drops the equipment off with a huge thank you for being available to save the shoot.
Fairly tale story? Not quite....
There's a part missing in the bag, the AC adapter for the field recorder. I tell her this, and immediately she apologizes and says she'll track it down and get it over to me...
That was March 20th.
Today I had to proactively reach out and ask about the AC adapter that is still missing from my equipment. Stacy lets me know that Candi has it... But: "She's going in and out of town a lot and she hasn't had time to meetup to get it over to you. But I've been trying really hard." (It's been 2 months). So I get Candi's number, and this is what happens:
'Hey Candi, I need to grab that AC Adapter. I have a shoot and need it for Saturday.' She asks if I'm in her area from 12-4pm today, or 12-3 tomorrow. I'm not as I have several auditions and an agent meeting. I explain this, then get a response.... "What I may be able to do is put it in a small bag and put in my open mailbox, buzz you in, and you can pick it up there." There? = her place, on the other side of LA.
I pick up the phone and call her, she says she's too busy and those are the only times she's available to meetup for me to get my own equipment back. Plus, I have to go to her, she doesn't have time to come near me. So I give her an out... "Ok.. Well look, I have a mailbox here you can drop it off at any convenient time, any hour, today, tonight, tomorrow... no problem." And then she says this:
"My mom is in town, that's not going to work for me."
Really? But you're the one that fucked up.. Why am I doing all the work to fix your own mistake? I'm not the one who didn't keep track of someone else's gear. That same someone, who if they didn't save our ass for this shoot, we might still be trying to reschedule it. I'm baffled, if the roles were reversed I'd be tripping over myself to remedy this situation with the humblest of apologies. I'd order an Uber to move the adapter from across town if need be. I would do anything I could with the least amount of effort from the person whom I've hurt. And here? .... I'm not even hearing an apology... at all. Then it became apparent:
Candi's need for "convenience" outweighs her respect towards others.
Wow. That hit me like a ton of bricks. That's really what dis-respect is: "me" first. "You" only if "I" have time. [see... 'me' is still first] I start to think about everyone I know in the industry and a familiar theme comes about, the theme I've been searching for:
The most successful people I know ALWAYS put others first. And that this core-level respect is the required foundation for you to grow into a A-list artist.
I now look back on my own life and experience seeing how imperfect I've personally been with this subject. Here's a quick story: There's a woman.. (we'll call her "Mai"... 'cause... what not?) She's part of this actor group that I'm apart of (around 100 actors/actresses). So we're ending another group session and a bunch of us are leaving. Mai was at the door waiting for someone and while I walked past her, I shook her hand as she gave me a compliment. I turned and said: "Thanks. Great to meet'cha". And I got to watch all the joy melt from her face as she said: "But... you already have, several times." My eyes locked onto hers as some friends, ignorant of what just happened, directed me out of the room. "Hey Peej! Let's go... "
That really sat with me. Have you ever done something so against the fiber of your being, where it feels like the core essence of 'you' died a little? A long time ago, while I was working at a giant corporate store as a cart-pusher, I did just that: I stole a purse.
Someone left a purse in a cart... and I took it. I remember hiding it in my car during work, and remember emptying it down a dirt road near my house (way out in the middle of the deep Texan country-side). What'd I get out of it? $28, and the feeling like half of my soul died. That same feeling when Mai told me "you have.... several times."
It's always "ME" first here. Purse? "I"m broke! "I" NEED this money. "SHE" doesn't need it and much as "I" do. Mai? "I"m bad with names! "I" can't remember that many people! "I"m usually good with 'faces', that counts right?
As much as Candi was putting her convenience in front of me, I was putting some bullshit arbitrary rule I made up to not remember "Mai". "But I can't remember that many people's names..." Bullshit! I can memorize a page and half scene in 10 minutes. You, Paul Jacob Evans, are telling yourself that remembering 'Mai' is too difficult? That's fucking bullshit! Unfortunately, I see this theme in my past quite a bit.
Think about it for yourself... When have you disrespected others? When have you put yourself, your own "me" first? How do you feel when you disrespected someone?
I can't change the past, but I can start a new future, and I can start with this... Now that I understand 'Respect'.
"I am committed to a life of true and full respect for everyone I come into contact with, and to building this respect as a foundation where I will grow into an A-list artist."
What I was listening to as I wrote this....
As much of a lesson I learned today, I still have to blacklist someone.... Which is a huge change for me. The old PJ would have instantly played it out with Candi like, "Oh... that's cool... you'know... I guess.... whatever, it's all coool. I'll just do whatever... It's all good." ie: a doormat. That changes today..... Because there's another theme that presented itself. As I glance across the scores of successful people that taught me this 'respect', they also teach another lesson, one that's abundantly heard in Aretha's iconic song:
Do no harm, but take no shit.
I love you all,
Thank you for reading.
--Paul Jacob Evans