A Guide to Believing in Yourself (But For Real This Time): Catherine Reitman (Transcript)

Full text of TV star, Catherine Reitman’s talk: A Guide to Believing in Yourself (But For Real This Time) at TEDxToronto conference. In this talk, she shares her lessons learned in seeing ideas through to their completion, not allowing others to reshape your vision and a little bit about family dynamics.


Catherine Reitman – Producer, Workin’ Moms

I feel so fortunate to be here, you guys.

I should let you know I’m not an academic – hell, I barely have a university diploma – but I have found myself in a very fortunate seat.

I’m the showrunner of my own series. “Showrunner” is industry talk for a boss lady, hence the blazer.

And even as I say it to you, it feels strange because it wasn’t so long ago – four years now – that I felt completely powerless, and unqualified, and specifically like I didn’t have a choice.

Have you ever felt a tingle inside? That you were meant for more, that something outside of your prescribed life was calling to you, but you didn’t feel entitled to it?

If so, don’t sweat.

I want to talk to you about the choice you have to grow outside of your comfort zone.

See, I spent the majority of my adult life feeling like I had no choice. I lived in a constant state of rejection. I’m an actor. I spent my career going into rooms desperately trying to convince someone that I was the perfect version of that character, only to be told “NO.”

I’m sure you’re all thinking that acting is a very glamorous career. And the irony is the majority of creative types work a very small percentage of the time – if at all. So I got fed up.

I mean, look, if I was trying to sell you this jumper and you said “no,” I could blame the jumper.

But when the product is yourself, it becomes harder and harder to sleep at night. As passionate as I was about acting, I was so sick of feeling like I didn’t have a say in my own career.

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So I did something that felt a little bit illegal. I started writing, not very well. And it felt like, I don’t know, it felt like writing was meant for someone smarter than me, or more special than me.

But I get these ideas, one in particular – little morsel. I had an idea for a medical dramedy that took place in a pediatric children’s hospital. I know, hilarious.

And instead of giving it time to develop past its infancy stage, I pitched it to an industry veteran. And this guy – smart, hell of a resume – I really trust him.

He’s also a very good father. For those of you who know my dad, Ivan Reitman, you know he’s considered one of the forefathers of comedy. He’s the dude who made Ghostbusters. Yes.

And he’s also here today.

Happy birthday, Dad.

And I am so sorry for the story I’m about to tell you.

You see, if you know my dad at all, he is beyond blunt. Yeah. I’ll never forget his face. He looked at me, right in the eyes, and said, “Catherine, a medical dramedy? Leave that to Aaron Sorkin.”

Those words on a loop reverberated through my brain for weeks: “Leave that to Aaron, leave that to Aaron, leave that to Aaron Sorkin.”

Ah, every time I went to brush my teeth: “Leave that to Aaron Sorkin.”

Tried to parallel park my car: “Leave that to Aaron Sorkin.”

Everything should be left to Aaron Sorkin, who, of course, is responsible for writing The Newsroom, and The West Wing, and more notably won an Oscar for The Social Network. Smart guy.

But yeah, that shut me down. I released the idea back into the wild and felt shame for even stepping outside of my comfort zone.

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