And the answer is … yes and no.
Theater is a meritocracy in that you don’t just need a certain skill set; you also have to have intangibles like talent and stage presence, and even that isn’t always enough to land you the role you’ve set your heart on.
Sometimes it’s about who you know.
Sometimes it’s about your reputation (for good or bad).
Sometimes it’s just pure dumb luck.
Sometimes it’s simply a moment of pure inspiration.
Sometimes it’s about where you grew up, and the privileges you were afforded.
I have said before (and I am sure I will say it again, because God (TIDBI) knows I repeat myself – especially when I think I actually have come up with an idea that bears repeating), if you get the callback, you can be assured you have the talent and skills to play the role. Why they cast someone else may have nothing to do with who is the best. The creatives have their reasons; and (usually) it’s nothing personal.
I always laugh (sometimes to myself, sometimes right in the face of the person) when someone asks, “Why aren’t you on Broadway?”
Well …. There are a lot of reasons. The biggest one is I was ever brave enough to try. Also, I am just not driven by that kind of ambition.
I have always been fascinated by people who say, “And I just knew, that was what I wanted to do.”
Nope. Never had that moment. Never.
So, here I sit, a fat OLD lady; and while I’ve never known what I wanted to be when I grow up (except not grown up); I can say that every time life offered me an adventure, I at least gave it a try to see what it was like.
And I guess I’m glad theater isn’t a total meritocracy, because, while I always have believed I am good, I’ve never believed I am the best. There will always be someone out there who is at least as good as me – if not a teence better.