site stats
Jenna Fischer Reveals How Pottery Barn Almost Made Her Quit Acting |

Jenna Fischer Reveals How Pottery Barn Almost Made Her Quit Acting

Before landing the career-making role of Pam Beesly on The OfficeJenna Fischer spent eight long years trying to make a living as an actress in Los Angeles. Fischer remembers very well the work it took to make her dream of starring in a long-running ensemble comedy come true, and she certainly doesn’t take her success for granted.


Now Fischer has penned The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide (BenBella Books), a road map of sorts for prospective actors, to pass on what she’s learned from two decades in Hollywood. In the book, Fischer shares milestones (good and bad) from her own storied career along with plenty of practical advice for up-and-comers.

“There aren’t enough cheerleaders and supportive voices for the struggling artist, and I really wanted to be one,” Fischer told Parade.

Jenna Fischer on Life After The Office, Her Survival Guide for Actors and New TV Husband

Read on for an excerpt from the book, in which Fischer recounts how a breakdown in a Pottery Barn changed her perspective on her career.


I had been living in Los Angeles for two years, when one day I walked into a Pottery Barn and suddenly suffered an anxiety attack. I had gone to Pottery Barn to buy a friend something off her bridal registry and panicked when I couldn’t afford a single item on her list. As I looked around the store, I wondered if I would ever be able to afford to shop in a place like this.

My friend was twenty-four, had a good job, and was getting married. Her list included all sorts of adult things like a handcrafted dinnerware set and 400-thread count sheets. My life was a complete mess. I was living with a stranger I’d found through a roommate matching company after my first roommate gave up acting and moved back home. My credit card had gone into default. My acting career was nonexistent. I still wasn’t in the union and hadn’t heard from my agent in months. My future looked like an endless tunnel of rejection and shitty apartments filled with thrift store crap.

So, I lost it. Right there in Pottery Barn, sitting on one of their beautiful Chesterfield leather sofas that I couldn’t afford, I lost my shit. What the hell am I doing? I thought. No one cares that I’m here. Between sobs, I heard cheerful Christmas music playing in the store. Oh my God. I couldn’t take another extended family Christmas party with questions like “When am I going to see you on TV?” and “How’s Hollyweird treating you?” I seriously wanted to quit.

I often tell this story when I speak to acting students. Because of all the questions I get, aspiring actors mostly want to know how to endure the rejection, confusion, doubts, and seemingly insurmountable hurdles of an acting career. I wish there was an easy answer. All I can say is, “I’ve been there.” Every artist has a different journey, and you’ll have to figure out yours—you’ll have to determine how much you can endure. Because the roadblocks, doubts, and insecurity are all part of living an artistic life.

Back there in Pottery Barn, to keep going, I had to adjust my expectations about what it meant to be an actor. First, I needed to accept that things weren’t going to happen quickly. A lot of my anxiety was coming from my belief that I was failing because things were “taking so long.” I needed to stop comparing myself to other people and commit to an actor’s life, with all its ups and downs. Then, I needed to change my approach. Being an actor is a lifestyle. I wasn’t able to shop at Pottery Barn because I hadn’t chosen the well-worn path of a conventional job. I had chosen the path of an artist. I needed to embrace my decision.

If I could go back and give sobbing Jenna some advice to make it easier, here’s what I would say:

Step One: Give yourself permission to be an actor. Don’t apologize for being weird. Live an unashamed artistic life.

Step Two: Create your own work.

Step Three: Never give up.

Ultimately, you have to find your own way. And you will. So be patient with yourself. Try to embrace the journey. And, maybe try to stay out of Pottery Barn until you book your first big job.

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.