You meet guys like Dan Truman a few times in your life, they are the angels that you are sent that you don’t know you need until they arrive.
I received an email commenting on the book. I responded and it turned into a relationship about spreading the message that we actors are not hostage to our past bad habits and the baggage of bad treatment for many years. He said my book helped him and he wanted to help me. Gosh, that was nice, eh? He set up easy entry for me to his alma mater the Circle in the Square School of the Theatre. It’s in midtown Manhattan and it has it’s own Broadway theatre. Heady stuff for a student. The director, Colin O’Leary, welcomed me in and I spoke to 30 students about my theory on how you can approach the biz and avoid a lot of bitterness. They listened with some interest and when I got to the part about never making your fellow actors your competition because you’ll never have allies as keen as a fellow actor, I used Dan Truman as my example. He was in the room. He met me there. He took the day off and sat in his old classroom next to this new set of graduates and silently cheered me on like we had been friends forever. I’d never met him and yet through this fellowship of artist helping artist here we both were trying to help this next group of artists.
There’s a big ugly beast called the biz, right? It’s a monster! Aren’t we told that? That we gotta hack away at it everyday to make a dent until the pinata opens and the riches spill? It’s never depicted as something that is human. And yet here was evidence. The Dan Trumans that come to us to remind us this is a business of people. If we treat people with care the biz doesn’t have to eat us whole. We don’t have to hate everyday until the day comes when we’re rich and important enough to have people pretend to treat us with respect.
Dan stood up and spoke, he told them he had graduated a mere 15 years ago and he wished them success and happiness and hoped they would not become bitter and lose track of their goals. I think we did a good job, they seemed to be nodding in agreement a lot. The questions came; ” I keep hearing I have to lose 15 pounds preemptively to do television. Is that true?” this from a girl that minus 15 pounds would have been scary skinny. Bad advice flows freely. Where does the help come from? Who tells actors what they should really be concerned with? Preemptive weight loss? What!?
The biz’s job is to throw you out, and your job is to fight back, or so that’s the paradigm we’ve all been given. I also think we’re all given a Dan Truman to remind us that we are not alone in our need to connect and be treated with the respect and enthusiasm our spirit craves. Receive your Dan Truman with grace and enjoy the fact that your spirit brought someone to you that reinforces your value to that beast called the biz.