Asking for help from anyone for anything has never come easy for me. I am a pretty self-reliant person and I generally avoid asking for help if at all possible. To some, this might sound like a good thing and to a certain extent it is, but it also can be isolating. Getting help from others is a great way to connect (and I don't mean networking but simple, essential human connection).
Hollywood is paradoxically the one place where I need help more than anywhere else but also the place I am most loath to ask for it. People in Hollywood don’t seem to share the rest of the country’s reluctance to impose on others (often complete strangers) for assistance. It’s almost the opposite here. There are so many people here throwing themselves at anyone they think can help them get ahead.
It’s like a town full of Johnny Dramas.
Against this backdrop, anyone who can actually help me with legit advice or by making connections to managers, casting directors, directors, producers, etc., is milked for this kind of assistance a dozen times a day from people they don’t even know (and some they do and wish they didn’t). Due to this reality, I feel even less comfortable than normal asking people like this for help because I don’t want to be another annoying fly they wish they could swat.
I know you can’t succeed in this town without help - lots of it, from lots of different people. But it’s still so hard for me to ask. A few days ago, I finally quelled my qualms and called a friend of a friend who's an actor out here. This guy's been in the industry for decades and been on television shows like CSI, True Blood, and Dexter and in films like Gettysburg, Space Cowboys, Gods & Generals, and Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained.
I buckled because I need trustworthy advice about something major, something acting related that will have a critical impact on my career. He didn’t answer when I called, but I left a message and he returned my call the next day. We talked for nearly an hour and he had a lot of info to share and gave me some sound advice that confirmed my gut feeling about this decision.
Eventually, I mentioned my reluctance to call him in the first place to which he cheerfully responded, “Hey, that’s what we’re here for, to help each other out where we can."
Sometimes help is just a swallow of pride away.
How has the generosity of others helped you in your career?
(photo courtesy of Chris Hawley)
-- Gabriel Voss