Community//

Therapist and filmmaker Jacqueline Donelli: “How many people compromise their goals for emotional negotiation”

Show up. Many people compromise their goals for what I’ve coined, “emotional negotiation”. EN is the emotional struggle you go through while negotiating if you should show up or not. The fear, the self criticism, the judgment we have of ourselves, thoughts such as, I’m not good enough, I’m fat, I’m not ready etc. just […]


Show up. Many people compromise their goals for what I’ve coined, “emotional negotiation”. EN is the emotional struggle you go through while negotiating if you should show up or not. The fear, the self criticism, the judgment we have of ourselves, thoughts such as, I’m not good enough, I’m fat, I’m not ready etc. just get in our way. Validate your feelings, shove them in a draw, and just show up. No matter what you feel, tired, lazy, depressed, or because you don’t feel like it, just show up and do it. Great work wasn’t done because the artist felt perfect that day. The work was done because the artist showed up.


I had the pleasure to interview actress and filmmaker Jacqueline Donelli. Jacqueline and her twin sister are owners of The Radical Twin Productions. The twins are the filmmakers of the comedy, Titillating Steven, which they wrote, directed, produced and starred in. It won four awards at film festivals including, Best of Festival, Audience Award, Honorable Mention and Special Achievement Award and was officially selected into nine film festivals. Jacqueline is a member of the WGA and the SAG/AFTRA . The twin’s second script, What You Don’t Know, Jack, was a finalist in five screenplay competitions. Jacqueline wrote and produced segments for HouseSmarts on NBC, produced commercials and wrote a column with her twin in several newspapers. She is currently writing a new script.


Thank you so much for joining us Jacqueline! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have an interesting career as a producer, actor, writer, director and a therapist!

The next couple of films have a bizarre mental health twist. I love to get into the mind of a character just as I do when I therapize a patient. People are what motivate me. We are incredibly complex and incredibly simple.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistakes probably have to do with my twin. So this particular time, I auditioned for a role for a commercial. The director had me stay and work with several different actors. Clearly he liked me. The next day I got a call from the casting director who said it was between me and another woman, and they went with the other woman. What a bummer, but she asked if I wanted to do background work instead. Being proud and disgruntled I turned it down. My sister was next to me and said, “I’ll do it”. (Since we are identical the casting director said yes). So my sister went to the shoot, they bumped her up to a main role, and SHE ended up getting the residuals! I was going to shoot myself. The lesson- take the opportunities.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m a little excited about my next project, a script I’m currently writing called, “Feet”. I get a funny look when I tell people the name of it.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like?

Usually the most interesting people I meet are people I wouldn’t expect to be. I’ve learned that everyone has a great story, especially the quiet ones.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I’m doing a seminar on this at The Actors Fund next week. Some simple pointers are positive self- talk, sleep, exercise and good nutrition. Those are the real keepers. Taking some time out to do you is very important I’ve learned.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If everyone tried to bring the best version of themselves, this would be an incredible world. Now that would be a movement!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Grab the opportunity. It might only come once. I missed a one time opportunity to teach filmmaking in the Philippines because I was up for a job as a host on a show (which I didn’t end up getting.) I gave up what could have been a unique experience. Opportunity knocks on your door once. Grab it.
  2. Do what you love- not what you think you have to do. I love film. And for years I thought I had to do stage. I’m a morning person and stage is tough for me for that reason alone. Furthermore, I’m better with film. Theater never moved me closer to what I wanted, film did. Listen to your heart. We tend to excel at what we love.
  3. Show up. Many people compromise their goals for what I’ve coined, “emotional negotiation”. EN is the emotional struggle you go through while negotiating if you should show up or not. The fear, the self criticism, the judgment we have of ourselves, thoughts such as, I’m not good enough, I’m fat, I’m not ready etc. just get in our way. Validate your feelings, shove them in a draw, and just show up.
  4. Someone wants it more than you. Every time you don’t work on your craft, or show up, or practice, know someone else will. And they want it more than you.
  5. Much of all of this is subjective. If you and I were to cast a film from the same pool of 100 people, we might pick a very different cast. In this field of the arts, we are at the mercy of someone’s opinion. When we audition, write, direct or act, it is the opinion of someone else whether they let us through the door. We aren’t always someone’s cup of tea. And we have to accept that.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I guess I’m kind of beating this in. But no matter what you feel, tired, lazy, depressed, or because you don’t feel like it, just show up and do it. Great work wasn’t done because the artist felt perfect that day. The work was done because the artist showed up.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I think primarily the support of my mother, which I am grateful for. The rest of the time I just worked my ass off.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Rejecting Films Will Be The Hardest Thing You Do” 5 Insider Tips With Three-Time Emmy Winner Gustavo Sampaio

by Yitzi Weiner
Community//

“Have short term, not just long term goals”, With filmmaker and actress Dana Marisa Schoenfeld

by Yitzi Weiner

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.