“I’ve always been good at asking advice,” Olivia Wilde tells Sam Jones. “I identify mentors and I’m good at asking them questions.”
If you ask anyone working in Hollywood where the first place they’d go to “make it” would be, a casting agency probably wouldn’t be at the top of their list.
In Sam Jones’ Off Camera show, a series of in-depth conversations profiling some of Hollywood’s biggest talent, Wilde reveals to Jones that she took on a job as a casting assistant early on in her career when she first started out. Fortunately, she was granted her own “master class” to Hollywood which showed her the ins and outs of the industry altogether.
I have to say, I am absolutely in love with Jones’ work in Off Camera. For one full hour, audiences are granted an in-depth, no-commercial conversation with celebrities who have reached some sort of notable success in their careers and talks with them about their early work and how they got started–how they’ve grown within it, how they’ve learned to grapple with it and how they’ve still managed to remain true and relevant to themselves and their work.
In this clip (which is just a short segment from Wilde’s full segment, airing exclusively on DirecTV’s Audience Network), Wilde shares her humble beginnings of learning to cope with such a corrupt business.
“[My casting director] was very blunt about what the majority of directors would expect from me,” she says. “She was just as corrupted by this business as the rest of us. It was something that she had accepted as a casting director who was helping these predominantly male directors find their leads, and knew that half the time she was just serving up their definition of perfection of what they were expecting and looking for.”
And after more than a decade in the industry, Wilde has finally found her stride, thanks in part to her role in the sleepy mumblecore film Drinking Buddies (a personal favorite of mine). Her messy, complicated character was created solely by improv, resulting in a film that looks, feels and is as real to Wilde as Wilde can get. (This further inspired her to take on more passion projects as she became co-producer and star of Reed Morano’s indie drama Meadowland).
I find that when you can create such genuine and authentic moments in film, it’s hard to get away from them.
As a young person myself, navigating and finding myself enriched by stories, inspired by music and motivated by driven individuals, it’s important to absorb as much as you can in order to find your way. I’ve found that time and valuable effort can take you places, but also can a positive attitude (which I find starts with acceptance and working with what you got!).
My “career” may be on a little pause for now, but nothing inspires our work better than life itself. That’s not to say that I’m not actively pursuing my career, but if I have nothing to live for and no experience to show for it, what kind of story can I be expected to tell?
As for Wilde’s favorite quote from East of Eden:
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
Thoughts on this segment? Navigating careers? Keeping your passions alive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!