A guest post by one of my fabulous private clients, Nina Hatchwell,
a London-based actress and singer/songwriter
I once read that Judy Dench, one of my favourite actresses and someone of world class talent and success, replied to a bad review for a stage performance last year by simply saying to her critic: 'You're an absolute shit.'
This reply made me smile, laugh and love Judy Dench even more.
At drama school they told us "if you want to stay in this profession and succeed, you'll have to build yourself a bullet proof skin.".. and they sure weren't kidding.
Not only does an actor need to deal with auditions and the fear and hope of acceptance or rejection, but once you actually get the job you have to deal with whether your audience actually likes you, loves you or hates you! It's no surprise that Madonna bans newspapers and media news from entering her house, sometimes it is better not to know!
Recently a little YouTube comedy short was released with me in it called 'Can't Commit', by Daniel Johnson and also starring James Redmond. Anyway, I like it and had fun shooting it and working with everyone... plus it was the first time I'd ever been on set where the entire crew bar the Director Daniel, was female!
I mean... girl power go!!!!
So in true supportive fashion I also posted it on all the social sites that I have online. Sure enough comments were being made, positive ones, nice ones, excited ones.
Then boom... I get a long email from a colleague, a fellow actor, telling me everything he/she feels is wrong with the short film etc etc... at first my reaction was much the same, perhaps a little less harsh, as Judy Dench's up there... but I didn't press the send button... I deleted it instead, as I quickly realised that in his/her mind he/she was probably wanting to be 'critically helpful', he/she probably needed to tell me those things more for him/herself than anything else.
I very quickly got over the email and carried on being positive about the clip. Plus it helped that whilst this actor colleague of mine had criticised me, the Director of one of my favourite indie films 'Once' John Carney, had seen it and liked it and actor/director John Wesley Snipes also gave it great praise online - If I'm honest, being told that they had seen it sent me into some sort of starstruck frenzy for a moment ... or two... - these are two strangers to me who's work and talent I admire and if they and other wonderfully talented people and friends of mine liked it then why should I let a little 'critique' upset me, right?
Isn't it funny how we can get so consumed with people's opinion and how, if we are not careful it can be truly destructive to our creativity? Why was I so quick to get so wound up at my colleague's opinion? Initially I took it like it was a stab in my heart... a little dramatic I know, but still!!!! How dare someone say anything bad about my work right? Wrong!
A few years ago I posted a recording of a song I made on YouTube called 'Miss Byrd' for a casting director to listen to. Little did I know at the time that the song was really popular on the musical theatre scene. Pretty quickly I got hundreds of hits and the video was being passed around a few other sites who liked my version of the song. Which was amazing! I was getting lots of positive feedback and comments from strangers, which was so encouraging... and then I got some negative comments, but I actually found myself laughing at them. I found it complimentary in a weird sort of way, that my song had made a stranger so mad that they felt they had to write about how much they hated my interpretation of that song... and that's just it... it's how someone interprets something... it's just an opinion.
Artists get criticised all the time... we have to deal with it and move on! The most important thing is that the work means something to us, we believe in it and we enjoy the process along the way!!
On that note: check out 'Can't Commit' - share it, spread it, love it, hate it, like it, laugh, smile and enjoy! :)
and if you want to listen to my interpretation of that song 'Miss Byrd' you can click here and even read the conflicting reviews below... you'll see what I mean and perhaps you'll laugh along with me:
Whatever it is you do, whatever work you produce I hope you enjoy the journey and take criticism with a pinch of salt, as life is too good and too short to do otherwise!
Read more of Nina's blogs about life and being an actress at NinaHatchwell.com
[Note from Denise - Thanks Nina - one of the toughest things about working in a creative profession is making yourself vulnerable, but there are huge rewards for the brave.]