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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Leadership Lessons From My Acting Debut


Every person you meet is better at something than you are – Robert A. Cook


Last year on a whim I had the opportunity to be an “extra” on the Lifetime TV series Army Wives which is filmed where I live in Charleston, SC. I was excited about this opportunity to make an appearance on a hit TV show and showcase my “acting” skills.

When asked by my wife about being on the show and what my expectations were I jokingly told her that with any luck I would land a romantic scene with one of the show’s big stars – Kim Delaney. My wife rolled her eyes, smiled, and wished me luck. With several sets of clothes in hand, I was on my way to my television acting debut.

After checking in with the appropriate personnel the other ‘extras’ and I waited for our assignment. We were loaded into vans and sent to a local neighborhood for a quick shoot of which I had no part. Upon our return to the main studio everyone was thanked for their time and sent home except for me and another lady. We were told to wait.

A few hours later one of the staff suggested we go out back to the trailer for lunch. Most of the staff and crew had already eaten and the buffet line was slim. We prepared our plates and found an empty table and sat down to eat. A few unassuming minutes pass until Harry Hamlin walks in. Harry was being prominently featured in several of the shows at the time and like the rest of us he needed to eat.

Harry approached me and said, “Hi, I’m Harry, mind if I join you?” Without objection he sits down next to me and we begin a friendly conversation. He is down to earth, personable and was a pleasure to visit with. After about an hour it was time to get back to work.


Back at the studio I was escorted to a set in the rear of the building and was told they needed me to be in a scene with – you guessed it- Kim Delaney! My heart skipped a beat and I resisted the urge to text my wife and gloat. And then it happened; Delaney walks up to me and smiles, extends her hand and says, “Hi, I’m Kim.” I am sure I managed to mumble something stupid.

My role was that of an employee in a law firm and I am instructed to walk down the short hallway and casually glance at Kim as we pass. She is coming off of an elevator and I am getting on it. We shoot the scene for more than an hour. I am thrilled.

The scene plays out when Kim walks into the law office and is going to work with who People magazine in 1987 named as one of the sexiest men alive – Harry Hamlin. My hopes were dashed as eventually, Harry, not me, is the one who gets the kiss.

From my acting debut on Army Wives I am reminded of three leadership principles.

·         From Harry Hamlin I was reminded of the value of being real.  In the conversation we had over lunch he asked more questions about me and the charming city I live in than I got to ask him about his career.  He was real and it was refreshing. Good leaders have a way of making you feel like the most important person in the room.

·         From Kim Delaney I was reminded that disappointments happen. The romantic scene was not in the script. As leaders we have many unscripted moments that define us. Not everything in life can be predicted and not everything will go our way. Strong leaders learn how to bounce back and move on.

·         From my acting debut I learned humility. My moment in the spotlight was short lived. Most of what was later seen of me on TV was the back of my head as I walked down the hall. Talk about your “big star” moment! But that is the point of good leadership. Not everyone can be the star and you are never as good as you think you are. Humility is an endearing quality of leadership. It is one of the greatest strengths you can have as a leader.  And thanks to one of People’s sexiest men alive I was served a big slice of humble pie!

© 2012 Doug Dickerson

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