Back in 2008, I wrote a song called: “Communicate.” I came up with it because of a relationship where the other person would just NOT open up, no matter what I said or did. You see, communication is an obsession of mine. I truly believe that it is one of my superpowers.
Most people, however, don’t prioritize communication in the way that I do, and understand that it’s so easy to miscommunicate or to not even communicate at all. With text, video and social media to connect with each other, we have a lot of room for complications in the act of communicating, and so many of our problems can be traced back to this.
The fix is easy, right? Just communicate! Open your mouth and say what you need to say, as my song goes. But I know it’s not that simple. It takes some effort and a lot of practice for most people.
The gains of communicating authentically, though, are boundless. Once people understand just how important communication is, it changes their lives. Relationships become more fruitful, business gets better, and real personal growth happens. This is a lesson that I’ve had to learn in my personal life and throughout my career as a stage and film actress. I want to share with you a story that I believe is the perfect example of how honest communication can open doors and create opportunities for you.
How Speaking Up Got Me the Chance of a Lifetime
Did you know that I almost missed my chance to be in the “Jersey Boys” movie? It’s true! I was originally set to try out for the part of an Angel. If I hadn’t spoken up during my audition and said that the role I was really hoping to read for was Mary Delgado, one of the greatest opportunities of my life would’ve never happened!
When they started casting for the film, and were looking to cast someone for the role of Mary, I asked my agent to please get me an appointment to audition. She called me back a few days later saying that casting would not see me for Mary Delgado, but they would give me an appointment to audition for one of the Angels who sings, “My Boyfriend’s Back.”
I could not believe it! I couldn’t get an audition for the same role that I was playing at the highest possible level on Broadway! I gave myself some time to feel my feelings and then told my agent to go ahead and make the appointment. I was still going to go in and do my best.
On the day of the audition, the casting director started a conversation telling me that he’d seen our Broadway show the night before and went on about how much he’d loved it. After a few minutes of banter, he said, “Would you like to sing the song or read the scene first?” I took a moment and paused. The quiet voice of my soul was telling me: “You have to do this,” so I let it out.
“I have to be honest with you,” I said to the casting director, “I was really hoping to come in and read for the role of Mary Delgado.” He looked at me and said: “I was just thinking the same thing! Would you like to come back another day and do the Mary scenes?” I quickly responded, “Nope, I’ll do it today.” (I figured I better not leave the building before reading for the role!) So I did the audition for the Angel, went into the hallway, reviewed all the Mary Delgado scenes, came back into the room and did those scenes with the casting director.
Three weeks later, as I was getting ready to leave for my brother’s wedding, I got a call from my agent. “You’re Mary Delgado in the movie, Clint Eastwood loved you!” Fast forward a month and I found myself on a film set for the first time in my life. It was such a beautiful moment, and I can still feel the excitement every time I remember it.
Speaking up without fear - and many times in spite of it - has opened doors for me that I would’ve never dreamed of crossing. I allowed myself to have this once in a lifetime opportunity because I communicated directly and honestly. If I hadn't spoken up on that day of the audition some other actress that looked just like me, and acted her butt off could’ve walked in, and booked the role. I would’ve never gotten to be in a movie or work with Clint Eastwood.
I love sharing this story because it’s such an important lesson on how communicating directly and authentically is so important for our professional and personal lives. Over and over, the events in my life have taught me that communication is the true foundation of every human relationship.
If you are someone who is afraid of communicating or expressing your feelings I want you to think about this: What happens when you don’t communicate? What happens if you let fear win? You miss opportunities, you waste time, and you waste energy!
On the flip side, if you just face your fear imperfectly and speak up - as scary as it is - you don’t lose. Even if you get a “No” in response, you still get to walk away glad that you did your best and spoke your mind.
Think about this next time you’re scared or in doubt. You could be missing out on something truly amazing!