When Everybody Wins

Written by Joline Atkins. Posted in Carpool Lane

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I read this article the other day. I was glad to read it.

I used to be a child actor. I auditioned for theater. Commercials. Television Shows. Mini-series. Sometimes, I was cast in a role. Other times, I didn't make it. It was a part of my childhood as a actor. Win some, lose even more. I worked steadily, but my odds were always about 10 auditions to 1 cast role. 

Fast forward to me as an adult. Directing shows in schools. I was always told, "All the kids are cast, so find a place for all of them."


I wondered how that made the girl or boy who was, what I call, (and don't beat me up, for I know this sounds mean) a "pity-cast", feel. Knowing that everyone was cast, and yet, being one of a chorus of millions because everyone had to have a part. It was an extra-curricular activity. A choice to audition. I could see if it were an entire class, but these shows were optional. And yet, everyone made it. I would encourage those children best I knew how, but I could tell from their demeanor that they knew they were really "walking set pieces". I remember thinking, "I soooo wish that gal was playing basketball like she wants to, rather than being here."

See, I had a lot of parents who MADE their kids audition, in order to give them a well-rounded experience, when, if they truly took a hard look at their kids likes and interests, they could be pouring this after-school time into strengthening a skill they have. And, if they did show curiosity in acting, taking a CLASS would have been a great start for them, rather than being thrust onto the stage only to stand in the back row. 

(I realize how harsh this sounds . . . just know I saw a good number expressions on the kids who were "encouraged" to try some theater. Faces ranging from terrified to completely disinterested.)

Schools do this. Churches do this. Early childhood sports teams do this. Everyone gets cast. Everyone plays.

I had the wonderful honor of directing a really cool version of the Nativity at my church this Christmas. A rock opera set to an all Beatles score. My first demand if they wanted me to direct? 

"I will not cast everyone."

That was new for our church. I'm sure there were some hurt feelings, but all ended up well.

So, what are we doing when we lump EVERYONE in the same category?. Everyone gets a part. No score is kept. 

I have always struggled with this. For indeed it does nothing to celebrate the uniqueness of every individual. 

I wonder if it's us? The parents? In our quest for a child to be well-rounded, do we push experiences upon them?

My two are 8 and 12, and have only JUST found an activity that 1) they show aptitude for, and 2) enjoy. I've spent years frustrated that they didn't want to try anything . . . and yet, I felt confirmed that I shouldn't push sports or activities on them on which they showed no excitement or drive to even attempt. I had to have faith that they would find their "thing". 

Was I sad when I didn't get cast in shows? Yes.

Or when I didn't win a ribbon in gymnastics? Yes.

Or when I was told I didn't look "American" enough to be in the George Washington mini-series they were filming in my childhood home of D.C.? Yes.

When everyone wins, we have no opportunity to teach our children how to best handle and cope with disappointment.

That, too, creates well-rounded children.

Joline Pinto Atkins is an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage and can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and is the founder and a contributor at Daily Fast Fuel and the newly debuted SlimSavers.com. Joline is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 11 and 7, who are both named after authors. Addicted to fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising and P90X'ing, and longs for good books, vats of coffee, and an endless supply of buffalo wings - which she will not share with you. So, please, do not ask. 

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