From the time I was a teenager I was auditioning for acting jobs. I would have taken pretty much anything to get work. I’ve played a zombie, belly dancer, beach bunny, rag doll, fairy, bimbo, and girl #3. There weren’t a lot of roles that I turned down, especially when I was a teenager. I just wanted to work. Every part was just an acting job and I saw it as fun.
So when my old manager called last week and asked if I wanted a part in a small indie film, he was surprised when I didn’t jump at the chance, and kind of mumbled “Nah, not really”. In fact, he was completely baffled. “What do you mean ‘not really’? “That’s totally out of character”.
Yeah, exactly. It’s funny how when you really, really want something and give 110% trying to get it that it never seems to come easy. Maybe it’s just that you want it too bad. Or maybe there’s some kind of desperation in your voice that shows through. That’s completely possible.
But not on that day. I surprised even myself that I genuinely wasn’t interested. But that made him even more persistent.
The same thing happened a few years ago with a script. I was working in film development and a fairly big studio dude came by the office. He happened to see my script on the desk and liked the title. I told him it was mine and he asked if he could read it. After all the times I’ve tried to get scripts into certain people’s hands, and this time big studio dude actually asked if he could read one.
I said no. Not because I didn’t want him to read it, but because it wasn’t really ready. This was a first draft and I didn’t think it was smart to let him read a first draft. (Now looking back on it, it was a smart choice).
But the more I said no, the more he insisted. He promised he could see through a first draft and he really wanted to read it. I knew that wouldn’t be the case. The first draft sucked. And I didn’t want him to see that as a first impression.
Now I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t have been using reverse psychology all along. When that acting role came along, should I have just turned it down? Even if I needed the money?
I’ve noticed that people in power positions respond very well to reverse psychology. Especially when they are giving you something quite valuable. It’s like their brains can’t comprehend it. They’re used to getting their way, and telling them no throws a monkey wrench into their thinking.
I’m not saying you should start turning down work, but if you really don’t want the part, say no and mean it. They just may be so baffled that they call you back in for something else.