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The Best Pieces of Advice I’ve Been Given

By Emily Verla, Company of Actors / Roudtable Co-Chair

I want to be clear from the beginning that I did not take the majority of these pearls to heart the first time they were uttered to me. Usually I had to bash into them (to an almost concussive level) before admitting that these wise words were the best course of action.

Starting with something my Dad began saying to me in the 6th grade: “Lean into what you’re good at, and find someone else to deal with the rest.” This felt idiotic in primary school; no one else could answer questions I didn’t know on tests. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve accepted that if it takes me 4 hours to edit a piece of writing and 15 minutes for my friend to do it I should ask them, and spend 15 minutes taking over one of their 4 hour headaches.

From Alithea Philips, who oozes kindness : “Respect your fellow artist’s process (they may be a genius).” Not everyone works in the same order. Nothing good comes from judging the people you’re working with, whereas fully committing to whatever choices my comrades make has led me in directions I had never thought of. Often that direction may not stick, but going there as a team helps everyone figure out more quickly that something else should be done, without shutting anyone down in the process.

“Other people’s success is not your failure.” Full disclosure, this one was not directly delivered to me; it was an answer of Christian Borle’s in a Tony interview. Though this seems like the easiest piece of advice to follow, I have found it to be illogically difficult in practice. I know a lot of people who are more competitive than I am, and seeing others succeed stokes their fire, but I tend to shut down. Developing the habit of being happy for your friends feels so much better.

This one is the newest addition to my arsenal: “Fuck It, someone’s ‘gonna want this!”, from casting director Kimberly Graham, a much more active way of doing that “letting go” thing everyone’s always telling you to do. Accepting you can only do the best you can do. The war cry version of “you are enough”.

“Find your people.”, from my mom. Once you find your people all the other stuff gets easier.

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