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  • Writer's pictureClare Lopez


Updated: 7 days ago

I used to struggle to ask for what I wanted. Mostly because I thought I didn’t deserve much - and also because my people pleasing prevented me from engaging in any conversation that might lead to conflict. I know now, that much of this had been wired as a trauma response. And that it would be a life long journey building up my sense of self-worth- and learning to navigate conflict with grace.

This lack of self-worth often lead me to being taken advantage or having my time and labor being abused. It also lead me to hold on to friendships and relationships that caused more harm than good. As a performer- I made decisions from the perspective of scarcity.  I allowed my fear of not getting work make me desperate to accept anything I could get - even if it meant compromising on being treated respectfully. And even when I felt unhappy, I continued to shame myself - and told myself that I should just be “grateful” and not complain.

Since reflecting on my own relationship with self-worth - I've been learning to do better. I've been learning how to identify what I want. And learning to embrace the fact that I deserve to get what I want. Not in any kind of selfish or egoistical way - but in the way that affirms my value as a human being and an actor. So when I recently came upon this quote from Sandra Oh - I felt it so appropriate for taking on this mantle of trusting my own enough-ness. Sandra shares here, how she chose to walk away from her final audition for Grey’s Anatomy because she knew that the deal on the table undervalued her. 

“ I didn’t do the final audition. Because business wise they wouldn’t make my deal… I walked away from it because it was not right.

And then I got the part.

The point being is, I was practicing asking for what I wanted. And I was willing to walk away from it. ... Now I am going to be in a place in my life where I am asking for what I want, and be okay if it doesn't happen. I want to be this type of person. And before you are it, you have to envision it. You have to practice it". "

―  ​Sandra Oh: on walking out of her final chem read on Grey’s Anatomy 

I want to just dig into this for a second.

Let’s put this caveat out in the open first: Sandra Oh at this point in her career, had an amazing team of reps who had her back. And she had also fought tooth and nail to be seen even when parts for Asian actors where so few and far between. She then ALSO worked really hard an building a career that was so strong and competitive she had the ability to be selective and walk away from this life changing series regular gig. So I am NOT going to sit here and advocate that every actor turn down huge roles left and right when they are just starting to build a career for themselves.

But I think the big take away from this is story is this: Sandra Oh had such a core foundation of her own enough-ness and self-worth - that she felt confident in asking for what she deserved AND knew she would be okay regardless of the outcome. I find her actions utterly earthshaking. She subverted the industry expectation to just be ‘grateful’. She worked against the grain of letting her worth hinge on this one audition. And she made a hard choice that in the end, got her a role AND the deal she deserved.

What would it be like if we believed that we deserve to be valued in our work?

What would it be like to make a practice of actually asking for it? And to believe that we will get what we deserve if we have the courage to ask. 

And what would our careers be like if we found a way to truly be okay, regardless of our audition outcomes?

Sandra was truly at peace with potentially losing a 10 Season - Series Regular role with a 6 figure income. That feels like the ultimate goal. This is the ideal relationship to my acting career that I want to foster. I want to feel like I have the freedom to walk away from roles that don’t serve me or gigs that don’t value me for what I’m worth. I hope to have that level of self-worth. To know deep in my bones, that whether I get the role or not - I will be okay.

I love that Sandra leaves us with this final thought- that it is our job to envision that kind of relationship to our careers. To practice making daily choices that remind ourselves that we deserve to be treated fairly. We have a right to ask for what we deserve.

And in the end know: the outcome will not shake our value in this world.

So that is my offering for you today.

What can you do to envision this kind of relationship with your acting career?

And how can you start practicing that core belief of your own worthiness?

How can you practice trusting a sense of worthiness that doesn’t have to hinge on your bookings? I am sending you so much love and grace as you start to envision this new kind of relationship with your self-worth and your acting career.

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