STOP Telling Performers to “Just be Thankful for the Opportunity”

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  • Kevin Ray Johnson

This is something that I have wanted to get off my chest for years now, and since audition season is underway, I feel this is the perfect time to bring this up. There is the scapegoat comment that I have heard a lot of theatre professionals say to actors and actresses for years and years now: To be grateful or thankful for the opportunity every time an issue arises and a performer speaks up about it. I think that is such a stupid and outdated thing to say.

I want to tell everyone who has ever said that to PLEASE STOP! Because here is the thing you need to know: WE ARE GRATEFUL, and WE ARE PROBABLY THE MOST THANKFUL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD! This is a very tough business and a lot of the time our jobs are to audition and get ourselves out there. Once in a while we will do a show, so to have this thought given everything performers go through and to suggest that we aren’t “Thankful/ Grateful” is just ridiculous.

We are thankful when we get a time slot on an online audition form, we are grateful to get in the room, we are thankful when we get a call-back (especially when we are in a waiting room that has hundreds of people in it), we are grateful even when we get the 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 4th) call-back from you, and we are so thankful when we get that call or e-mail with an offer to join the show. We REALLY are!

But you have to understand one thing: This business is very much a survival of the fittest and you have to look out for yourself. So if that means asking a question about your contract or negotiating terms, that’s what we have to do. But BY NO MEANS does that mean we aren’t thankful so please stop attempting to create that narrative.

There is no entitlement in our business, and at the end of the day, all artists should know their worth and not sign something they don’t feel comfortable signing. We Are thankful, we are grateful! And you know why? Because you gave them the chance to do something they love and are passionate about so of course, they will forever be thankful AND grateful.

Please I beg of you if you’re running a professional theatre company if one of your castmembers has an issue or questions that you may not like, PLEASE stop saying to them that they should be thankful or grateful because it is truly counterproductive.