I’ve just been asked to do an audition both in a ‘high status’ manner and ‘low status’. So, the same character, with the same lines as a timid, beaten-down little mouse with low self esteem and no confidence. Then, the same woman as a proud, fabulous, ballsy, no-nonsense matriarch who just happens to be doing a low-status job – but she still has a sense of her own power and value. She thinks, hey, even if I lose this crappy job I’ll just get another – and be equally fabulous in that!

It got me thinking about status at work, in business generally, and in workplace hierarchies that we find ourselves making a living in. Being high status doesn’t mean you have to be an a***hole, throwing your weight around and abusing people beneath you. Being low status doesn’t mean you have to be abused, exploited, shouted at and humiliated. The guy who makes the tea or cleans the toilets is as important to the running of the enterprise as anyone else.

on a film set, Dudley, West Midlands, 2022

Now, OK, I am exaggerating slightly. Toilet cleaners are easily replaceable, and a CEO like Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk is less easy to replicate, with all their brilliant, visionary creativity, off-the-wall theories and extraordinarily strategic thinking. But you NEED the toilets cleaned, and you NEED the tea made (I am thinking of Bollywood film sets where the chai comes round regular as clockwork, steaming with fresh ginger, cardamom and cinnamom, all sugary and sweet, to give you a little boost when your energy is flagging).

So just because I am doing a low status job (and sometimes I am the least important person in the room, if you can believe it!) I still pay attention, keep quiet while other people are working or discussing the next move, and do MY bit to the best of my ability. Equally, when I am the most important person in the room (if I say so myself) – when I am the leader, the Media Trainer, the coach, the person calling the shots, directing the action and shaping the activities of the day – I also try to give my best at all times. Aren’t I a saint?! Not at all, but I just like to do a good job when I am working for someone who’s paying me.

I have been on jobs where people hide round a corner so they don’t have to do much work, they’re high on drugs so don’t know what’s going on, or they do the absolute minimum as “they can’t be seen”. Hey, I can’t control what other people do. But my opinion is: it’s more fun to try and do a good job, so you can feel more satisfied at the end of the day! Certainly on a film set, if everyone gives their best effort, the results will be better- yes, even that extra at the back who’s half obscured by a post – who I have been, by the way. It’s more fun to get into the spirit of the scene, enjoy it, pretend you ARE that World War 2 housewife, that ‘disapproving neighbour’ or ‘judgmental dog walker’ (all of which I have played) rather than – hey, I am too cool, too bored, too hungover to do this.

Just my two penn’orth.

And back to my audition, I still don’t know which version the director will go for. I think I was better at being a ballsy matriarch than a shy mouse. But maybe the director will want a weary, beaten-down version of me for this part. We shall see.

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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