How to Deal with the Word NO

Take a look at this. This is what the word No looks like.

It’s not pretty is it? More on this photo later.

No is such a pesky word. I don’t know anyone who isn’t constantly bothered by it. I find that No tends to buzz around me, rather inconspicuously until I decide I want to accomplish something new and exciting. Then as I start to implement my plans, the No buzzing gets louder and louder and I have to keep swatting at it otherwise the No’s get in my eyes or go up my nose and if it’s a bad day, I’ll accidentally swallow one. Yuck. Can someone pass the no spray please?

I decided pretty young I was going to be an international superstar. An unusual career choice for a seven year old but I knew, even at that age, it was not impossible. But when I announced my plans to move to New York City* people reacted as though I was trying to mastermind Pauly Shore’s return to acting. They were angry, confused, hurt, and full of fear. Some tried whatever they could to change my mind and stop me from going. None of their tactics worked. I arrived in NYC on a one way ticket at age 20. Six years in, I’m still here and the world continues to spin. Imagine that.

Chances are if you want to live a life that is outside of the traditional world of college, 9 to 5 and babies you’ll hear No a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, everyone still has to deal with it. But people who want to forge new roads in the world often get hit by a different and much more vicious type of No. For whatever reason, the people who spew out these kind of No’s have deemed your life dream silly/unrealistic/a waste of time/laughable.

How rude!

Since I was so young when I chose my life path, my resistance to all kinds of no’s is strong. In fact, I’ve even come up with a few ways to counteract the people who try to tell you No. At the very least, these techniques will deflect the No back at the person and stun them just long enough for you to make your escape.

Let’s begin.

Pretend you didn’t hear them. If a person says you can’t do something, ask them to repeat themselves. Then ask them to repeat again. And again. If they start to get angry say, “I’m sorry I just don’t understand. Can you repeat that?” Chances are they’ll be aggravated enough to give you what you want or walk away from you.

Act as though it’s a reality/they already said yes. Example. When I was trying to sneak into Wilmer Valderrama’s birthday party a few years ago, the bouncer tried to stop me. To get around him and his No, I simply told him I had been in there the whole night. The bouncer quickly apologized and let me in. I proceeded to take shots with Wilmer and sing him happy birthday.  The trick to this technique is confidence and a super-belief that they’ve already said yes. Any sort of hesitation and you’re a dead duck. It does involve using some jedi mind magic so advanced students only.

Buddy system. This is an extremely versatile technique. Two is always better than one when it comes to trying to get your way. Some nice ways to use this include the double team, wing man/woman, using your friend to guilt your parents and having your weaknesses be your buddy’s strengths.

Listen to it. This is probably something you didn’t expect me to say. However, sometimes a No can be good for you. Spoken at the right time, a No can lead you in an even stronger and more exciting direction than previously imagined. Example. I had just graduated high school and started an acting class in Orlando. My plan was to move straight to NYC after I completed this class. When I asked my acting teacher (a former new york actress herself) for her advice, I did not get the encouragement to go to New York. I was shocked. I considered myself talented and ready for the big leagues. Instead, she told me to go get some life experience first and then move to New York. So I bought a plane ticket to Scotland and didn’t return for six months. She was right. I did need some more life experience and listening to that actually made me more aligned with what I’m supposed to be doing here on earth. Try to only listen to a No when it comes from someone you really respect.

Now about the Daniel Radcliffe photo.

This is when Daniel try to tell me, Sarah Walker, NO!

This is Daniel after his Broadway performance in the show Equus.  There was a mob of salivating teenage girls waiting for him to leave the theater but my best friend and I managed to maneuver around them and snag a spot directly by the stage door. I handed my friend my camera and instructed her to take whatever photo she could (a great example of the buddy system technique at work). As Daniel took his sweet time coming out, his fans became increasingly hysterical. Especially the one that happened to be located directly behind me. She was worried that because she was in the second row, Daniel would overlook her and not sign her playbill. She sobbed as she told me this. Sobbed. I offered to take her playbill and get him to sign it. How nice of me.

Daniel finally came out to sign some playbills. His appearance caused such a stir that 45th street had to be shut down. When he reached me he happily took my playbill and signed it but when I handed him sobbing girl’s playbill he gave me the constipated look that is his Harry Potter trademark.

“Oh, um, I’m sorry. I can’t do that.”

“What?” I stared at him with my deatheater eyes.

“One playbill a person.”

“But it’s not even for me. It’s for her.” If the girl was crying before, she was practically on the ground now heaving with an excessive level of emotion . She pulled herself together enough to look vaguely in his direction and nod.

“I’m sorry, I really can’t.”

I was speechless. Clearly this wasn’t a situation where I was trying to be an autograph hound and make some cash off his signature. There was a crying girl behind me! But my friend being the quick thinker that she is,  snatched the crying girl’s playbill out of my hand and thrust it into Daniel’s face.

“Fine. Sign my playbill.”

I love my friend Reny. Not only did she catch the precise moment of when Daniel told me no on my camera (note the crying girl’s playbill I’m trying to hand him in the right hand corner) she thwarts his no by calling out how ridiculous this whole situation was with one sharp jab of a floppy playbill.  Daniel signed it and aware of how stupid he just sounded, tried to make an awkward joke,  “Ah, you’re a smart one aren’t you?” but nobody laughed.

So let me end this post with a cliched yet true statement.  Don’t take no for answer! Even if it comes from a person who plays the most  magical boy wizard that ever lived.

*New York is an excellent place to begin your int’l superstar career if you’re thinking of having one yourself.



Filed under Superstar Advice

13 responses to “How to Deal with the Word NO

  1. Amy G.


    See it is already working. 🙂

  2. theartfulabode

    i freaking love this story. it never gets old. and i love the tips!

  3. Reny

    nobody, i mean nobody says no to sarah and reny. Not even magical Harry Potter!

  4. Star

    How breathtakingly rude you are.

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