Today we welcome back Stage 32 member and guest blogger Jennifer Rudolph. In addition to being an actor and casting director, Jennifer runs the Actor's Green Room, a company that offers professional classes and events for actors in New York and Los Angeles. Jennifer has always had a passion for helping actors succeed and believes that every actor has an organic spark that if nurtured properly can become something amazing. She has now cast over 40 films, has launched the careers of various film and TV actors, and continues to take the industry by storm.
Jennifer's previous two Stage 32 blogs, How Applying Shark Tank Principles To Your Career Will Make You Successful and How To Book A Role As A Series Regular While Having No Previous Credits, were met with universal praise. Today she discusses how she has applied the mindset of "If you build it, they will come" to her professional career and how doing so has paid off immensely. Jennifer credits her business savvy to the 1989 film which featured that quote, Field of Dreams, and suggests you do the same to help your career hit a home run.
I thank Jennifer for her continued contributions to the Stage 32 Blog.
When I was in high school I saw “Field of Dreams.” It was one of those films that really moved me and at the time I didn’t quite understand why. I had lost my father at an early age so I definitely identified with Ray's (Kevin Costner) pain and longing but the message of the film struck me on an ever deeper level that I at the time couldn’t identify.
It wasn’t until years later that I would decipher why the very last scene in the film would always bring me to tears. It wasn’t until years later that “If You Build It, They Will Come” would become my mantra in which I would build my company upon. The scene I am referring to is the one at the very end where Ray is playing catch with his father who has been dead for years but yet somehow magically returns via the baseball field which is a portal.
Beyond them playing catch, the camera pans out and you see cars lined up for what looks like miles. Ray had a calling (albeit his was supernatural) to build a baseball field in the middle of Iowa. He had no idea why or where this was coming from but it was a voice so deep inside/outside of him that was literally saying “if you build it, they will come.” He followed the voice and was getting clues as to what to do. When he would feel lost he would get another message until eventually...he built a baseball field.
Ray risked everything and was at the point of foreclosure on his house but yet he followed his passion and had faith in whatever this voice was. He trusted himself, a few supporters who could also see the vision and this voice against all odds and all criticism from his friends who were telling him he was crazy. Ray built a field and found out that he built it so that he could reunite with his late father (who would return in his 20s) who would come and play ball with an entire late baseball team. People would then come for miles and pay to watch this supernatural ballgame.
Ray would provide a unique, once in a lifetime experience and would touch the lives of others and offer a doorway for those passed to come back. It is through following his vision, helping others and risking it all that he would end up with everything he wanted.
Since I was a young girl my vision has always been to nurture and cultivate the dreams of others. I began my life as an actress but then started envisioning my own baseball field. I didn’t quite know where I would end up or what I was doing but this is how my path went:
1) I lived in the present and looked for the “signs” in my life. When you make a decision to follow your voice, the universe conspires to help you. I would give every job I was in my all and kept asking the question “what am I meant for?” When I would ask this, an opportunity would present itself. I would follow the signs and embrace said opportunity. And so on.
My attitude has always been very Zen about this kind of stuff. Like Ray showing up at Terrence’s apartment (James Earl Jones) and saying “I’m supposed to take you to a baseball game” (which he would get this next sign and hear the voice again), I followed the path laid out in front of me. It’s amazing what happens when you just surrender and literally ask “what is next and meant for me?” Your passion becomes your compass.
2) I was meant to create my own company. I realized quickly that I wasn’t a good employee. I was too much of a visionary, forward-thinker and would get in trouble at work. Back when Talentworks was HWA, I worked for Diana Doussant (aka Mama Bear as I called her). I was her assistant. She taught me so much about the business and whipped me into shape. While under her tutelage, Diana said to me “you are a terrible employee but will make an incredible boss.” It was then that an opportunity presented itself to me to move to Mandalay Entertainment which would eventually launch my career in casting. I hugged Diana, cried and thanked her for 2 years of fantastic training, and off I went.
3) I could see beyond what was there when it came to people. I learned I had a knack for looking at someone’s headshot, visualizing their career and working with them to help cultivate what was at their root. I became a casting director and started the careers of many actors who you now know. I gave Jesse Eisenberg and Michelle Monaghan their first film/television roles. I pulled Mike Vogel out of a pile of headshots and helped get him a Series Regular. It was my greatest joy to turn a picture into a moving picture and help water an actor’s seed.
Seed. Cultivating. Nurturing. Could it be that I was meant for more? I loved being a casting director but I wanted more time to mentor people. I envisioned a studio where actors would come to learn and grow. Where I could provide opportunities and guidance, the proverbial “water” for them to thrive. I knew it was time to move on and create...The Actor’s Green Room.
Since starting AGR in New York 7 years ago, I have launched the careers of countless actors. It was time to open up an office in Los Angeles in January (the signs told me to do so), so I did it. I recently created The Actor’s Greenhouse in New York with my wife, Genevieve, (a gifted Chakra yoga teacher/healer) which offers classes and treatments specifically designed for artists to help renew and rejuvenate their minds and bodies. My mission is to provide an environment for actors in which they can feel protected from the harsh conditions of show business while nurturing their personal and creative development.
About a month and a half ago I was at a friend’s house and told both him and my wife who was there that what I wanted more than anything for my upcoming birthday was to sit in a room with Mark Cuban from ABC’s Shark Tank and Marcus Lemonis from CNBC’s The Profit. “These two guys are my entrepreneur idols and I know I can learn so much from them”, I said. I was totally joking around.
Not even 5 minutes later I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that Mark and Marcus where headlining the ICONIC LIVE Tour sponsored by Inc Magazine. A chance to spend an entire day in workshops and masterminding with 18 entrepreneurs including Mark and Marcus. But it was in Chicago and would be 2 days after getting back from a trip to Miami. I wondered if I should do it. Without me even being able to think about it, Genevieve bought me a ticket to the conference in Chicago and my fate was sealed. I was getting my wish.
2 weeks later I went to the conference and that’s when I envisioned my baseball field while standing in the weeds.
Mark and Marcus told me I needed to reach more people. I needed to use technology and open my heart and mind to the masses. I took notes, I listened and then...I built it. I am now about to launch my company online, which is going to allow me to mentor and touch the lives of actors all over the world. I get to spread the mantra...”if you build it, they will come.” I am going to be featured on CNBC’s The Next Big Thing (the same network which houses the shows of my idols Mark and Marcus) and am going to be featured in the Get That Life section of Cosmopolitan.
By following my voice, the signs and going the distance...the camera is panning out and I can see the cars. But ultimately, I am living my passion and giving others the strength to live theirs.
Remember: “If you build it, they will come.”
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