When I worked in small market radio as a salesperson, I routinely encountered business owners who had trouble seeing the value of buying advertising time. Unlike the ads they placed in a newspaper or a local school calendar, radio ads were an intangible no one could see. It was there, nearly twenty years ago, that I first heard the phrase “overcoming the objection” that would influence my later career as an actor.
Simply put, almost every potential sale back then for me started with a No from the client. I would ask for more information so I could better understand the business, and I would attempt to schedule a return visit so I could reconnect with ideas, a spec commercial, or a suggested schedule. The whole process really just involved creating ways to turn a No into a Yes eventually, whether it took weeks or months. Last week I had a lot less time to do the same as an actor.
My self-submission for a film role in LA one morning led to an invitation to audition the next day. That meant I would need to get from Houston to Burbank on my own with no reimbursement for the trip. It wouldn’t be simple but it could be done.
When I didn’t respond quickly to the invitation, casting reached out to my Austin agency, who in turn called me. I asked if self-taping was an option and it wasn’t. I would need to be in LA the next day if they wouldn’t reschedule it.
The casting director himself called me and spent almost 9 minutes on the phone with me explaining the situation. I discovered I was one of six actors selected to audition out of 1500 submissions for the role. That certainly made me feel very good and I found myself eager to make the trip. Even though it involved only one scene, a lot of time was being spent looking for the right person. But then the objections came steadily when he starting processing everything related to me.
Objection 1 – WRONG LOCATION
I wasn’t in LA at the time.
Objection 2 – TOO MUCH EXTRA HASSLE
I joined SAG-AFTRA in Texas, not LA.
Objection 3 – BURDEN OF EXPENSE
I would have to pay my own airfare.
Objection 4 – BURDEN OF SCHEDULING
I could have to stay in LA for days until the shoot.
Without thinking seriously about how I would handle Objection 3 I addressed the other three by responding how I could get a flight there, how I knew I would have to pay the difference between the national union initiation fee and the local one here, and how I could stay as long as it takes. I even asked the CD what he would do in my situation with less than 24 hours notice. I made a case about how I handle last-minute, out-of-town auditions often. Yes, it’s never taken me to LA, but I can manage it, I countered. None of it convinced him and he decided on that phone call to replace me.
Less than 30 minutes after he and I chatted, I stood in front of my friend Mykle McCoslin’s acting class to share the experience. Instead of consolation, I got a very different response from my friend and her students. It was one of encouragement. They wanted me to go anyway, despite the CD’s declaration I would be replaced. It was time to find a plane ticket and get ready see LA for the first time.
I headed back to the home where I have been staying with friends Mark and Judy and I shared the story with them. They immediately began helping me find a plane ticket so I could fly to Burbank the next morning. Judy cautioned me to call the CD to make sure I would still get seen if I made it out there. Wise move!
I called and the second chat with the CD lasted less than 3 minutes. I made a case how I had sought the advice of respected industry people here and they told me to get myself to that audition. I also mentioned the frequent last-minute trips I make to audition in Texas and Louisiana. By the end of the call, I got the green light to audition and when I arrived the next morning, the casting director shook my hand when I got in the room and I gave him a solid audition in return.
I learned a few lessons related to overcoming objections during this experience.
1. I created the first objection when I self-submitted because it didn’t identify my location. He assumed I was in LA, not Texas.
2. Had I asked an agent to submit me, though, I likely wouldn’t have been chosen by the director upon seeing I was in Texas and not local.
3. The casting director needed quicker assurance I could be there. When I got the invite on Actors Access, a confirmation would have eliminated the need for phone calls and the discovery of potential objections by the CD.
4. Saying I can make it to LA is not the same as having a carrier, flight number, and arrival time. It leaves the CD speculating about the chances I don’t end up making it and he’s left with only five actors to audition instead of the six selected.
Three days after my audition, my Austin agent contacted me to say the CD thought I did a wonderful job but someone with a different look was selected. Although I didn’t book it, I feel like the trip gave me several big wins, including a first time in LA, the start of a new relationship with a casting director, and the connections I made with the friends and peers I saw while in town. Going back again and again will be much easier, even if I encounter new objections along the way.
Whether you have been acting for a little while or a long time, you are already facing objections. Once you discover and identify one particular objection, consider what ways you can turn a NO into a YES. Don’t let geography, your look, your age or any one thing automatically rule you out as the right person for the role. Make your case, then deliver on your promise.