I once heard a joke from a man who said “What do artists and coffee filters have in common?” and when I asked for the answer, he replied “They’re disposable!”
I remember being so furious I stormed out and thought to myself that he was ignorant and had no clue what he was talking about. It never crossed my mind ever again until recently…
I was invited me to see an off-broadway performance in the city that my brother choreographed. It was so beautiful and a complete success! While having dinner and congratulating him on the play, he began telling me about an certain issue he had with one of the actors:
This young male actor refused to dance with one of the female performers (he had a crush on another dancer that he wanted to be paired with). When my brother refused to switch them, the actor went as far as to fake an injury during rehearsal, blaming it on his current partner and demanded for the switch to be made. After a few days of the actor not arriving to rehearsal to due his “injury”, he came back from the doctor with a clean bill of health…and was notified that he had been replaced. He was livid! As the actor stormed into the directors office demanding how they could do that to him and that he wanted his part back, the entire staff (stage manager, producers, etc.) simply said “The show must go on. If you cannot do it, we’ll find someone else.”
Suddenly the coffee fiter joke rolled back into my head. Are we indeed disposable? Are immediately replaced and tossed away once we do not fit a certain criteria? Do we have to abide by all rules and restriction in order to achieve success?
No matter what you go on to pursue in life, there are a set of rules you must follow. Some you have to abide by and others you can easily break. From artists, athletes, politicians, etc. – they all have a similar back story of how they went against the grain, broke the rules and became very successful. But once you want to turn your passion into a career, there are all of these rules and restrictions around you and if you don’t fit in – you are out!
So where’s the line!?
It is said that in order to survive the life of an artist, you have to develop thick skin and desensitive yourself from your work. Which will help you in the long run. But the real secret of what can separate you to from the “coffee filter” artists is the way you PRESENT yourself! No one and I mean NO ONE wants to work with someone who has a huge ego chip on their shoulder. If the actor who refused to dance with the performer would have spoken to my brother and worked out a solution – he probably wouldn’t have gotten fired.
It’s not just in the art world – it’s in every day life!
Regardless of your profession, if you arrive with a mentality that you are a student who is constantly learning (which we all are) it can bring you so many opportunities. I know it sounds cheesy but if we arrive with a humble mind with an amazing talent – it will land you a show! It’s been working out for me and it will definitely work for you!
Keep creating awesome creator,