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Lessons on Creating a Fulfilling Career from Sarah Wayne Callies – Brian Medavoy

Lessons on Creating a Fulfilling Career from Sarah Wayne Callies

Please refrain from rolling your eyes when you read this because I know what you’re thinking.

Generally speaking, I like to avoid the limelight.

I know that’s hard to square given how active I am on social media and on this blog, but you have to believe me when I say I’m not this active because I need the likes. I’m this active because if I don’t get thoughts and tidbits and ideas out into the world, my brain might explode.

That said, I’m still human. So you can imagine how amazing it felt to hear my client Sarah Wayne Callies sing my praises on The REGARD Breakdown podcast.

I’ve never heard someone speak so glowingly in public about a rep and, I’m not going to lie, it felt really great to hear.

I wasn’t going to blog about this. It felt too ridiculous and self-serving, but then I listened through a second time, less starry-eyed from Sarah’s nice callout, and I thought to myself, “Wow, there are so many golden nuggets in there to help others in this business.”

Most people in the world — especially in Hollywood — are out to promote themselves whenever possible. I am fully ready to admit that I’m guilty of that right now, but my primary directive is to help others through advice, experience, and whatever else I can offer. Sarah’s is as well. If I can pursue that primary directive while patting my own back, then sign me right the hell up.

We’re all constantly in a psychological war with our ids and superegos that rages in private and often sprays into the public eye. We all desperately seek approval and praise, we all desperately try to avoid appearing desperate. That’s a complicated balancing act, and it’s an interesting theme that Sarah touches on in her podcast.

Fame is strange, insidious, and deeply impactful. It changes you and forces that chaotic spectrum of approval and grace into the public eye. It makes you constantly evaluate who you are, who people think you are, and what you want people to think you are.

Sarah has had a fascinating career as an actress, a director, a writer, and she’s led an interesting, fulfilling, and philanthropic life. She has a lot to teach anyone, but I think her appearance on The REGARD Breakdown would be of particular interest to my readers. So, please forgive the shameless self-aggrandizement.

Here are a few of my favorite moments from the podcast:


How she’s stayed grounded and kept a sense of reality as a successful actor. (07:02)

Success and fame can get to your head fast. Sarah’s always stayed rooted, and it’s a part of why people love her. Her methods for grounding herself are worth following.

How growing up in Hawaii shaped how she sees the world (08:28)

Where you’re from and what you carry with you from that place shape who you are and the stories you tell. This clip is a great example of how you can take your own story and use it in your art.

How she developed her unique vision for storytelling (11:18)

Everyone needs a “why.” The more powerful the “why,” the more unstoppable you become. Sarah’s “why” is a perfect example.


Where she learned her hustle (14:13)

Early lessons can set you off on the right or wrong path. Listen to this one for some powerful motivation.

On preparation and what you can control (20:57)

Life is chaotic and you can’t control everything. But if you excel at what you can control, good things will happen. Sarah has a great understanding of how this applies to her craft. Any actor would benefit from her perspective.

The most difficult moment in her career (25:42)

How a minor oversight caused her pain, and what she learned from it.

Why it’s on you and no one else (30:27)

The fact is, no one cares about your success more than YOU. Don’t just take it from me. Listen to this clip. Sarah’s experienced amazing success, and she didn’t wait for someone to hand it to her.


Why she was about to give up acting, and what changed her mind (52:45)

After experiencing massive success, Sarah almost walked away. She had good reason to. I’m honored to have had a role in convincing her to stay, and that she’d mention me here. The world is better off because she continued acting.

3 solid pieces of advice for people in the industry (01:01:28)

If you’re building a career or an established entertainment veteran, you MUST listen to this brief clip. Simple lessons that are often forgotten.

I hope you’ll listen to Sarah’s lessons and draw some inspiration for your own work.