Incredible. I have read about it all the time but I don’t think I have been lucky enough to be in situations where I can witness it too often. Humility is the characteristic of champions. Successful people wear it like a badge and it is incredibly sexy.
I have just returned from a wonderful trip to the film festival for my annual “acting party up” and as usual I managed to attend some wicked parties and events. And the thing I was left with, apart from sore feet from four days in heels, was a clearer understanding of the beautiful way in which the really successful people carry themselves.
You notice that people who are great at what they do don’t need to name drop or talk themselves up all the time. They just get on with it. They share as necessary; they politely ask questions, they exude confidence like a badge. Now this may sound like it is a direct contradiction to what we should do as actors but it actually isn’t. Let me give you some examples.
The Networking night: When you are at an event or a simple networking night you are going to meet lots of wonderful people. People who may have the potential to offer you all kinds of openings – film contacts, directors making movies, actors who have big movies coming up. You have two choices, just like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Book’. You can a) tell them all about your latest jobs and the very exciting amazing producer director dude you know who you met a XYZ club last week or you can b) politely engage them about what they get up to when they aren’t working on their film projects. There is nothing more interesting than being asked about something other than “what your current project is”. Everyone has other hobbies (And if they don’t then they’re a muppet – or is that just me who thinks that). And the wonderful thing about asking people about other things is you get to know them on a personal level, and it creates a wonderful first level of intimacy that you can build on later. Plus, if you are really lucky you may even have extracurricular activities or friends in common. It’s all part of relationship building 101.
The Parties: You know the ones.. you rock up to an A-lister party to see loads of uber cool peeps with hints of Jimmy Choo under their incredible designer garments. You swiftly move over to grab a glass of champagne and then pick the cutest person nearby to share a story with about something incredible that just happened to you. Why not try something different. Imagine you don’t need to impress them because you are the person they want to impress. And remember they’re just a friend you haven’t met yet (Bernard Hiller showed me that).
I don’t know about you but I love being asked questions. Everyone (well actors anyway) love to talk about themselves. So ask that person who you are standing with about themselves. And commit to memory three interesting things about them that you can come back to when you see them next. Make sure their name is one of these.
Geoffrey Rush: (I’m really not name dropping – there is a reason I’m mentioning him) I had the pleasure of briefly meeting him at a party last weekend and he blew me away. My friend had seen him walking past us and stopped to say “Oh Geoffrey, you’re amazing and I just wanted to tell you….” She was gushing but I didn’t mind as I got to talk to him as a result. And he was lovely. He kindly said thanks and then went on to chat about being in Cannes and watching his movie earlier that night. He was a total gentleman and not the least big arrogant. And after a brief conversation and a few smiles he wandered off to find a drink. And I realised that is how I want to engage everyone I meet.
So I don’t know about you, but I am starting to think the less you talk about yourself the cooler you must be! Try it on for size.