Successful friend
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How to survive when your friends become more famous than you

by Erin "Queenie" Stegeman

You’ve been pounding the pavement hard ever since you graduated with honors from one of the nation’s top theater colleges ten years ago. It’s been a tough road, but after thousands of dollars in therapy and several “spiritual” programs you’re finally able to audition wearing a silk shirt with only herbal deodorant. You’re just one Tony Robbins affirmation away from shaking hands with Quentin Tarantino’s former casting director’s assistant’s friend. You’ve written, directed, executive produced, and starred in a relatively successful web series. You’ve figured out The Secret. You’re on the brink of something big – you can feel it – and then…

Your friend, who just moved to town, books a series regular. On a hit show. And she doesn’t even have her driver’s license or know what a casting director workshop is.

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Erin and Katie

It’s happened to all of us at one point (with the exception of my above-mentioned friend). My little sister has booked every television show I’ve auditioned for. On her first shot. I turned down a supporting role in an independent film she was starring in because my coach told me it was time to “say no to co-stars.” Well, that film is currently playing in theaters around the world and has been talked about on KROQ and Howard Stern as a “must-see.” I’ve spent at least three Harvard MBA tuitions on my career. My biggest accomplishment was achieving the next highest level of SAG dues. Apparently that never goes back down either.

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“Me and my more famous sister Katie”
Photos courtesy of Erin Stegeman

So between the ugly crying and the countless “Likes” on Facebook every time your friend posts another “Faces to Watch Out For” article she’s in, we hard workers have to find a way to just survive.

So how do you keep going when it all seems so unfair?

1. Ask them to coffee to start a fake mentorship.
Smile and nod as she talks about how difficult it was on set for her to hit her marks. You know you can hit reversals and diagonals blindfolded. Take notes as she tells you how tired she is from suddenly having to get up so early. She doesn’t need to know you get up at 5am for spin class, then spend the morning at day job #1, followed by your Advanced Acting for Showtime Dramadies class, then off to The Coffee Bean to work on your screenplay for exactly 35 minutes, followed up by improv 804, twenty minutes of visualization, and are back home from day job #2 at 2am. Nor does she need to know about the barista you bribed to take a picture of you and your famous friend together to sell to TMZ.

2. Meditate.
Or bring back the 5 o’clock cocktail. Either works. Besides, you hit the gym at 5am every morning to stay camera ready, so what’s the harm?

3. Panic.
Just go completely off the deep end. Get that tattoo you’ve held off on because you didn’t want it to deter you from booking any gig where a basic makeup artist couldn’t cover it up. Get the full f***ing sleeve. Shave your head. Burst into CAA demanding to be seen. Get arrested for climbing over the Paramount Studios gate. Complete disregard for self-preservation is totally in right now so chances are you’ll book more roles. They’ll call it “edgy” but we’ll know it’s actual crazy.

4. Stalk/Support them on social media.
Hashtag the shit out of every tweet you send your famous friends. Does his or her show air Wednesdays at 8:30 PST? Great, guess what you’re doing at 8:25 EST: tweeting your friend about how amazing he/she and his/her show is. Coverage during all of the time zones is key. Cleverly link a photo of the two of you (maybe from the café) or give yourself a well-disguised compliment so your friend will retweet it completely unaware of your true self-serving intentions. For example:

Congrats tweet

And, if all else fails…

5. Ride their coattails.
Even if your friend tries to fling you off, grip harder. Beg, borrow, steal. Send her your screenplay, and if she turns you down, remind her about the time you caught her sleeping with the theater history professor. It’s been 10 years. Let’s save the dignity for when you’re accepting your Emmy.

Erin "Queenie" Stegeman

About Erin "Queenie" Stegeman

Erin "Queenie" Stegeman is an actor/writer/director/slash slut who likes her boxing classes a little too much. She tweets Starbucks more than anyone else. Erin is the also the creator and star of the parody series Once Upon A...Anonymous. Please follow Erin on Twitter @erinstegeman

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