Category Archives: Self employment

Learning when to say ‘No’


Why have a real queen when you can get cheaper version?

Why have a real queen when you can get a cheaper version?

I hate saying ‘no’. To a friend, to a client, to a director. It puts you in the negative. It makes them think you’re being unhelpful or to good for them. Today I did just that, to a client. I hated it but I think sometimes you have to. Some people could say that it’s a lucky position to be in but sometimes you just have to say ‘no’ to jobs. This’ll probably jinx me for the next time but I’ve taken the risk.

I don’t know about you, but often when I get offered work, more work will come my way, either out of the blue or off the back of the first gig. In whatever field, be it business or creative (or creative business?) the buzz around a working person is positive and it keeps building speed. Have you seen it on television where a series, a soap, a one-off drama will have the same actor appearing either as a guest or as a recurring character. I’ve seen that about actors “Do they not stop working?” I think to myself. How lucky they must be!

In my 17 years as an actor I’ve seen that happen many a time. And I’ve experienced it. Like buses. Though often not for the same sector. Sometimes it’s all acting, sometimes voiceover work will come through, often interspersed with some one-off temping or a painting for a friend. I consider myself to be very, very lucky because I do a variety of things to earn a crust. I’d love to be able to specialise a bit more but I enjoy the changes. it’s doing them often enough which is the tricky part.

Today I said ‘no’ to a translation job. It was 2700 words and had to be timed to video. Given enough time I’d have jumped a the chance but with the weekend coming up (I have a regular paid job at the weekend as an assistant chef in a cafe, which I am loyal to) so working on outside project without prior notice is out of the question. I couldn’t have given it my full attention especially since they wanted me to work out the timecode for each of the sections, translate within the parameters (see my previous post on translations for voiceovers) and then neatly packaged with my own voiceover. (Which I don’t think is ethically right – I could be translating anything for myself to speak, and creating more work and expense for the client). For a “package fee”.


I know someone out there is doing the translation gig, but I hope that they’re doing it for something closer to the proper fee (all my agents have a standard fee for translation, so I’ve based it on theirs). I don’t expect others to lower their fees when we’ve worked hard at  our job to maintain professional standards, equipment and relationships. There will always be someone who will do it for cheaper but they’ll probably need it more. This weekend there was not time in my schedule to be fitting in a technical translation, something that required a lot of headspace to get around the jargon.

Luckily I’d still kept the voiceover gig!

An agent once said to me: Only accept the jobs that fulfill at least two of these:

1) is it paid – and paid correctly?

2) is it high profile – is it going to be good for your career?

3) Does it feel artistically fulfilling?

I know in the realm of voiceovers we often can’t be choosers but sometimes.. sometimes we can.


P.S. in case you were wondering, the photo above was backstage before a performance of a monologue for the Solo Festival at Lost Theatre in London for a piece called “Queen of The Jews” in which I had to play Queen Elizabeth II who was considering to convert to Judaism by Ivor Dembina

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