Dear West End Producer: ‘What should I do if people tell me to brush up on my waitressing skills when I say I want to act?’

West End Producer West End Producer. Photo: Matt Crockett
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First of all, tell them to mind their own business. They may think they’re being funny, but they’re not – they’re being downright rude. People who talk down to you like that will undoubtedly be in a job they hate, full of their own insecurities, and won’t have had sex for a very long time.

However, you should always keep your cool when such incidents arise and remember that you’re the better person. You see, whenever you tell people you want to be an actor, they will view you with an air of suspicion.

People wonder what gives you the right to pursue such an exciting and interesting career path – and why they didn’t have the balls to follow their own dreams. Every negative comment comes from jealousy, pure and simple. And some people’s inherent way of defending their own life choices is by putting other people’s down.

A good response you could try is: “Yes, I am brushing up on my waitressing skills because I realise how hard it is being an actor. But I’ve chosen a career I’m passionate about and believe in, and something that rewards me with far more than just money. Every day I wake up with a passion for acting, and an inherent urge to do well at it. And I will do whatever I can to reach my goal. If that means I’m waiting tables to dribbling, bullish customers for a couple of years, then so be it.”

Remember that before they became successful Hugh Jackman was a party clown, Rachel McAdams worked at McDonald’s, Jim Carrey was a cleaner in a factory and George Clooney was an insurance salesman.

People’s defence mechanism can be to insult those they don’t understand. It is a form of bullying and something that many of us experience, particularly those who pursue artistic careers.

But I’ll tell you something: when success comes your way and when you get your big break, that person who told you to brush up on your waitressing skills will be telling everyone that they knew you.

So keep going, my dear, and ignore the lonely, bitter people who question your life choices. They’re only doing it because they made bad choices themselves.

In fact, with so many careers now oversubscribed, every new graduate has to do other work on the side. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You will be doing whatever you can to make your acting career work, whether that involves waitressing, promo work or ushering. And that should make you proud.

If you spend your whole life listening to others, you will live a very safe and boring life. You are not boring; you are not safe. You are an inspirational individual who is crafting your own life, full of wonderful experiences and challenges. As a result, you are putting yourself in a position to have excellent opportunities and success. You may be a waitressing for a while – but what a great story to tell when you get your Oscar, dear.