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The Gift of a Cancelled Booking (or Two)

Missed opportunities, obstacles, and disappointments. Sometimes bad news becomes a blessing that we don’t recognize until a later time.

Recently, I had two on-camera bookings scheduled that I was rather excited about. A political commercial and a training video, both of which would pay fairly well and allow me to work with people whom I greatly respected.

Both were cancelled the day before their scheduled shoots for different reasons. One was an indefinite postponement and the other was a last-minute change in the script that completely eliminated my character.

It happens.

Quite disappointing, as you can imagine, but the cancellations turned out to be …

A Blessing in Disguise

I had cleared my calendar on those dates to accommodate the bookings, because on-camera work can take anywhere from a few short hours to 12+ hours on set. You want to give the client and their project your full attention. It’s a bad idea to try to squeeze something else in on the off chance that the shoot day could end early. Murphy (see an earlier post!) ensures that it’s rarely going to work in your favor.

Then the call came in. A family emergency out of town that required me to leave immediately for an indefinite length of time.

Within seconds, disappointment over the lost bookings transformed into major sighs of relief. Otherwise, I would have to deal with the stress of either:

  1. Telling my agent and the client that I had to cancel my involvement last minute, which could have damaged my reputation with each. Generally, it’s acceptable (though not happily received) to cancel the actor last minute. NOT the other way around. Though to be fair, I’m sure they’d understand the circumstances of an emergency. But neither would forget that this particular talent caused the client delay and extra work or expense to find a replacement.

  2. Doing the job and then flying out immediately afterwards to deal with the emergency. This would not have gone over well with family members, some of whom do not take artistic pursuits seriously or understand that bailing out on bookings in the 11th hour is a major problem. The corporate world is more forgiving. I know, I spent years working in it and the usual response to a family emergency was “Go! Do what you need to do.” And in a family emergency, it’s rather challenging to focus on the job at hand when you’re in emotional turmoil.

What would I have done? Family comes first. It has to, regardless of personal cost. Though if push came to shove, I would see if another close family member could attend the emergency until I could get there, unless it was so serious that I HAD to be there myself ASAP.

But still … thank goodness the choice was taken out of my hands.

No Man (or Woman) is an Island

I’m a private person. I don’t air personal difficulties or grievances publicly. Usually. I do what has to be done and deal with the emotional fallout later afterwards. I’d make a pretty good soldier in that respect.

But as human beings, there are times when we need other people for help and support. In my case, that’s other family members. It’s good to know that they have my back and that I can call on them when needed. I don’t like to burden friends and acquaintances – good people, all of them, willing to supply emotional support – if at all possible. From a humorous perspective, it would just be too exhausting to keep everyone up-to-date as the situation progressed. And I’m not about to post anything online about it.

What DID help sustain me was the fun and camaraderie I had enjoyed at two recent networking events the week prior.

You Don’t Know What You Need Until You Do

The first event was put on by my local business community, the Buckhead Business Association. They host an annual foodie event called Taste of Atlanta, which truthfully was equal parts Swig of Atlanta (my name for it), since it seemed to lean so heavily into sampling adult beverages. Great for some, but I’m petite and make for a cheap date. A little sip goes along way.

Most of the food offered was desserts. Hey, I like sugar as much as the next chocoholic, but again, a little goes a long way. Too bad I didn’t know to eat dinner at home first. Or at least plenty of salads and veggies to assuage the guilt of gorging on too many empty calories. (Yes, there was some other food, but most of it was meat-based and I’m a vegetarian.) It was an upbeat event and I met some great, interesting people and totally enjoyed networking in person once again.

The second event was a weekend-long barbeque hosted by audio engineer extraordinaire “Uncle Roy” Yokelson of Antland Productions, who helped me create and equip my broadcast-qualilty home voiceover studio. This was his 17th annual VO BBQ social event, attended by approximately 150 voice actors and industry professionals throughout the country – and beyond. I saw a few familiar faces, now sprung from their little Zoom boxes into full 3D physical form, and made many, many new friends. Voice over is a wonderful community, full of generous people who treat each other as colleagues, not competition. I went home happy and charged up to take on the day.

And then the bottom fell through.

Keep your batteries charged. You never know when you’ll need to draw upon them.

Remembering the Energizer Bunny

It’s not easy dealing with crisis. It drains you physically, emotionally, mentally, and perhaps even a bit spiritually. Caregivers need to take care of themselves, or they are of no use to anyone else.

It’s so important to keep our personal batteries charged. Thank goodness I was able to store up several days worth of fun, laughter, community, and friendship. I had no idea I would need to draw upon it so quickly.

To keep going and going and going when It’s essential to do so, you have to know the priorities in your life. When crisis strikes, and it will at some point, it’s much easier to handle things when you know what is most important. Then you can more quickly and easily identify what’s crucial to attend to and what can wait. Or be cancelled. Equally important is to have the strength and inner resolve to accept – or at least deal with - whatever blowback that accompanies your choice. Nobody said that life is easy.

Do yourself a favor. Enjoy the good times when they come and keep your batteries charged. You never know when you’ll need to draw upon them.

And have fun! Laughter is truly so good for the soul.

Laura's Quick Tips

  1. There are such things as silver linings, though they may look like storm clouds at first glance.

  2. Have one or two people - family or friends - that you can turn to in need. And vice versa.

  3. Enjoy the good times for what they are and relish the experience.

  4. Remember all the good in your life when dealing with the difficult or purely awful. It'll help give you perspective and confidence knowing that nothing lasts forever, that you WILL get through the tough times, and that the sun will shine once again upon you,

  5. Laugh, even at a stupid joke or two. It's an instant mood lifter and a temporary reprieve from dwelling on the matter at hand.

  6. People care. They can help you keep your battery charged and buoy your spirits.

A cancelled booking can become a good thing when you have to deal with something much more pressing. And in the overall scheme of things, what's a booking or two? There'll be more down the road. And you've already built up goodwill with the people who had originally booked you. They liked you, thought you were a great fit for their project, and may even feel badly that the job was cancelled last minute and want to make up for it with a different or better job down the road. And sometimes, in the moment, other things are just that much more important.

Yeah, sh*t happens. It’s all in how we deal with it. For a more humorous look at some of the things I’ve had to deal with in recent years – where you’re just, simply put, screwed and there’s nothing you can do about it – read this story.

Laura Doman smiling

I'm Laura Doman, a former tech industry sales executive, hands-on mom, voice & TV/film actress, and improv performer. I create memorable characters that tell my client's stories, from the friendly CEO touting new upgrades to your sassy best gal pal dispensing some necessary, real-world advice...Let's Talk!


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Sorry you had to deal with an emergency! I hope things are going better now. I agree with your assessment, though, and always try to look for the silver lining. ❤️

Laura Doman
Laura Doman
Nov 16, 2022
Replying to

Thanks, Billie Jo! Yup, if we can't find something good in the bad, it's too easy to spiral downward from there. I really try to stay positive, no matter what!


Unknown member
Oct 21, 2022

Silver linings indeed! I'm glad that you were able to be there for your family. It's the truth: they DO come first, but man there are those mortgage-paying roles where you wish'd they'd come second for once, haha! I'm sorry you got cancelled on, but glad that your family didn't get cancelled on so you could all be together. And also glad you got to get some good community (AND veggie BBQ'ing and fellowship, no less) in as well. I miss the conference scene and didn't go to OV like I thought I was going to, nor did I make any plans to go to Uncle Roy's BBQ. I'm a homebody. I can mainly stomach only leaving my fam…

Laura Doman
Laura Doman
Oct 24, 2022
Replying to

Thanks, Josh! I'll look forward to seeing you at VOA 2023. JMC has an absolutely stellar lineup of speakers - should be an amazing conference.