Tyne Daly once said to me “The most powerful word in Hollywood is NO.” She then went on to tell me how she was offered “The Enforcer” with Clint Eastwood. At the time, Hollywood considered her a nobody. It all started with her flatly turning the audition down. The more times she said no (which was quite a few), the more they wanted her. It went from “We would like her to fly herself to L.A., put herself up, and then audition,” to “We are offering her the role.” Daly went on to tell me that actors should have the skin of a rhinoceros, but to make sure that it looks like a baby’s ass.
A few years into my career I was at Warner Bros. auditioning for a sitcom. As soon as I walked in I saw about 20 girls waiting—casting was running over an hour and a half behind. So I turned around and walked out. My agent had told me NEVER wait for more than 45 minutes. (Yeah, can you believe that?)
A few hours later my phone rang—it was my agent. “Did you walk out of your audition?” When she heard why I had walked out she said, “OK, good. Well, they want to see you. How soon will you be able to get back to Warner Bros.?” I ended up booking it.
I realize times have changed drastically. We are all saying yes to pretty much any job we are lucky enough to book. Two years ago I got sixth billing for “People Like Us” and had a triple banger. This year I’m not getting any top billing on “6 Miranda Drive” and I was in a honey wagon. I said yes because it was a scene with Kevin Bacon and why would I pass on a chance like that?
So when can you say no? A client of mine just passed on a job because it was a series regular that they turned into a one-day guest/possible recurring and the money was beyond insulting. We work hard to get our quotes and yet now that concept is obsolete.
I was really proud of her because that took guts. Did they come back with a better offer? Yes…not much, but it was better and she took the job. Quite a few people thought that she was totally wrong for turning it down in the first place, but my dad would always say that good things happened for me when I said no.
The next day another client came in for a session. Fresh off shooting a movie for the past month she had a really great story about how she booked it. Apparently she had passed on the audition. (She is a new mom and wasn’t wild about the script.) They kept asking until she gave in. “Sara, I didn’t do my hair, I didn’t coach with you, and I was so loose in the room that in the middle of the audition I walked out, got my bottle of water, and kept going with the scene when I walked back in. I really think that there is something to saying no.”
The executive producer on a show I booked early on once pulled me in for an embrace in front of a table of actors and producers. As we got closer I realized he was coming in for a kiss so I turned my head. He pulled me tighter and said in my ear, “I’m the executive producer and the reason why you’re here so you should really kiss me.” It was my first really big role, I was terrified and I was a nobody, but I whispered back in his ear “I’m here because of my talent and I kiss who I want when I want, so no I will not be kissing you.” He was extremely respectful after that.
PLEASE REMEMBER that you are a person who deserves to be treated with respect at all times. We can get treated terribly but know that you always have a choice and sometimes saying no can be a wonderful thing.'