Your driver has a Tony. Do you?

Did Pretty Woman teach you nothing? Another cautionary tale...

I am very proud to be a member the producing team for The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess and it was thrilling to take home a Tony Award last week. But this is not a blog about the Tonys. Today’s post is a cautionary tale…

One of my friends and Porgy & Bess co-producers called me this week to celebrate our big win and to tell me a story.

He is a young producer who already has a long resume of Broadway credits to his name. Since even Tony winning producers can’t necessarily pay the bills (that’s the subject of a WHOLE separate blog) he has a new day job as an associate artistic director outside of New York. Not too shabby, right?

Well, his company was working with a new musical theater writing team and rather than send an intern, he took it upon himself to pick up the team from the train station. He thought this would be a great way to provide a warm welcome and give them a chance to get to know each other before the development process got underway.

Unfortunately, the team that arrived just saw a young man, made an assumption that he was an unimportant intern, and inexcusably treated him like the hired help. They expected him to carry their bags and sat in the back seat, talking just amongst themselves, during the half hour drive — as if he were a cab driver.

Needless to say, these writers were embarrassed by their dismissive behavior toward him when they realized he was one of the key players at the company. Not to mention a Tony winning Broadway producer who could have potentially opened doors for their show.

But let this be a lesson to all of us. In a business where everyone rolls up their sleeves and pitches in at every level, and many up-and-coming industry VIPs still get their start as interns and office assistants, you just never know who’s “important” to your career, or may soon be.

The young guy picking you up at the train might be a Tony winner. And the intern making your copies or the receptionist taking your call, very well might hold the keys to your big break sooner than you might think.


  1. It’s also important to note that even if the person who picks you up or gets your coffee IS an assistant or intern, how you treat them matters. They are likely working their butts off for YOUR project, sometimes for free, and sometimes at great personal sacrifice. And they are more likely to do so with enthusiasm if you treat them with respect.

    I’ll never forget how the writers, producers and rock stars I worked for treated me as an assistant (the only one in the office who could actually read the horn charts coming in on the fax machine). And when I got to be the artist and the writer myself, I was very careful – and very honored to follow the examples set by the classiest of the lot.

    A friend used to say that the way a potential employer spoke to their waiter at a lunch interview determined whether or not he wanted to work for that person.

    Plus, in show biz, the shoe could be on the other foot in the future – you may pass these people again on your way down the ladder! LOL…

  2. BIG amen to this, Brisa! I have noticed that the most secure and successful artists are often the most generous and kind as well. I don’t know which comes first: did their kindness and respect for their fellow human propel them to the top, like good karma? Or has all their success and fame brought out the best in them? I suspect it might be a little of both. Treating people with respect and interest is always a good bet, regardless of who the person is or who they turn out to be. Oh, the stories I could tell!

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