Create Your Own

No-one likes sitting around at home waiting for the phone to ring.

 

[Hang on, that saying needs an update.]

 

No-one likes sitting around at home waiting for the phone to ping.

 

[I know, I know! But do you have a better suggestion?]

 

Even artists that have ‘made it’ find themselves waiting for the next great job to fall into their lap. But rather than wait by the phone, you can create your own opportunities.

 

On a recent THR Actress Roundtable, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman discussed the process of making the tv series Big Little Lies. Witherspoon even created her own production company, Pacific Standard, specifically to address the need for television and film projects with great roles for women.

 

As she explained, it wasn’t all about economics. For artists it’s not just about finding a job to make money. It’s also about the opportunity of doing the sort of work you aspire to…the work you know you can do well.

 

Instead of waiting for an agent or producer to message you with the next job offer, the women at the Roundtable know that we now live in a world where we can create what we want.

 

Oprah was at the table, relating how Toni Morrison started out writing the types of books the author herself wanted to read.

 

“We can create work that we want to participate in ourselves,” said Oprah. “You don’t like what’s there? Change it.”

 

There’s a part of me that searches for any excuse not to do the hard work, the important work, the emotional labour of creating something that might not work. That part of me shouts out “That’s easy for you to say, Ms Media Mogul Winfrey.” But the curious, adventurous, ready-to-take-a-risk-even-if-I-embarrass-myself part of me is quick to remember that Oprah was born just about as far from a billionaire as a person can be. She created her own by waking up and bringing her best self to the world each day. While doing so, she created the sort of projects that she wanted to make and was good at – the talk show, the magazine, the films, the musicals, the television network, Oprah Inc.

 

Creating your own work doesn’t just mean you get to do the things you want. You’re creating an asset that can help build your reputation, your audience, your wealth or all three.

 

When a young Brian Grazer asked Lew Wasserman how he became the patriarch of modern entertainment, the older man went to his desk and came back with a big lined legal pad and a number two pencil. He said “You put the pencil onto the paper and it has a greater value than it did as separate parts. Now get out of here!”

 

What can you create today, with the pencil and paper or the tools you use, that will be an asset for tomorrow?

 

Ping me and let me know.

 

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