Confession: Jamie Lynn Sigler, who played the character, Meadow Soprano on HBO’s hit drama series, The Sopranos, is my cousin.
I consider the series to be one of the most influential television dramas of our time (not biased). While having a relative be part of this television phenomenon is, admittedly, a pretty cool thing, it’s also kind of interesting to share the story of how she landed the role of a lifetime and how it has inspired my design sensibility.
My cousin had no idea what she was about to get herself into. Jamie, being a talented theater singer/actress since the age of 7, was first called in to audition for the Meadow Soprano role, knowing little or nothing about the premise of the show.
In fact, she thought it might be about opera singers, something she was very comfortable with and encouraged to pursue. When she figured out what the role entailed, 16-year-old Jamie carried a slight edge of negative attitude because she felt she didn’t stand a chance. Ironically, it was that very attitude that won her the role.
Although The Sopranos went on to be a massive hit, it’s crazy to learn that the show’s creator, David Chase had a hard time convincing primetime TV networks that his script was a worthy creation.
FOX Network expressed interest but they decided to pass it up. Eventually it was HBO that decided to fund the first pilot premier of the show. Although HBO did not go through with it right away and placed the show on hold for several months, they eventually decided to produce the 13-episode first season.
Good move because The Sopranos was a major ratings success. Despite being aired on premium cable network HBO, which is available in significantly fewer American homes than regular networks, the show frequently attracted equal or larger audiences than most popular network shows of the time.
It is this very dynamic that gives me inspiration in my own life as an interior designer. I think to myself, if David Chase had given up pitching his creation, he may never have experienced the greatest success of his life. If Jamie hadn’t gone out of her comfort zone and taken a risk, she would have missed the most challenging and rewarding role of her life.
David Chase did not allow the fact that his script was not standard fare for the time keep him from carrying on his vision of what viewers would, in fact, relate to. It was this raw account of human storytelling that gave way to what is now considered one of the best TV series ever.
QUALITY INTERIOR DESIGN DOESN’T EQUAL TRENDY
If anything can be taken from this is that the best strategy can be not following the trends. Designing for what is thought to be the popular, one-size-fits all approach or what’s “in”, does not allow for real freedom of personal interpretation. Many people are afraid to take risks for fear that it is not popularly accepted.
As a high end interior designer I encourage my clients to trust their own instincts and allow their own self-expression to reflect their personal style. It is a main part of the designer-client relationship, to learn every client’s needs, wants and lifestyles to tailor fit their design to their specific way of life.
CHOOSE WHAT’S BEST OVER WHAT’S “IN”
Replace what’s “in” with what’s best for you. If you are not into straight, clean-line furniture, don’t feel pressure to have it in your home just because it’s what’s in fashion. You won’t feel comfortable. Opt for equally stylish but more transitional lines that can easily fit into any quality interior design scheme.
The Sopranos didn’t appeal to everyone; it was viewed by some as an unrealistic (or at least, uncomfortable) view of the mob life. Perhaps it didn’t have the glamour that some thought it should, based on previous mobster movies like The Godfather. It was a show that was its own, it didn’t follow anything that had already been done, and not everyone understood this in the beginning.
In the end, quality interior design equals uncommon, tailor made, unique work that stands the test of time. Frankly, sometimes that takes guts.
Look to my cousin Jamie-Lynn Sigler as an example. By stepping outside your comfort zone, If you don’t follow what is widely accepted and trust yourself, you open the doors to new possibilities and accomplishments that you may never have experienced, had you not taken a chance and challenged yourself to do the unexpected. This applies to as much to interior design as it does to every other area of life.
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