“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”–John Lennon.
“Now that I’ve come to grips with the fact that my career in the entertainment industry isn’t entirely in my own hands, I’ve decided to switch my obsessive-control-focus…” —Short and Feisty Finances
I was so dead set on exclusively blogging about finance for the next handful of blog posts. But then the entertainment industry comes along and smacks me on the tush! Normally, I would think HOW RUDE, but I’ve been dating the industry for a while and I’ve been waiting for a sign that he’s just as into this thing as I am.
I was babysitting for a former family on Tuesday when I got a call from a North Hollywood number–I assumed it was the library calling to inform me that the books that I had placed on hold were ready for pick up. Answering the phone to numbers I don’t recognize (strangely) triggers my anxiety, even for a robot call, so I let it go to voicemail.
I LET IT GO TO VOICEMAIL.
I understand that an actor automatically excludes themselves from opportunities by missing “the call”, literally; however, in my defense, I hadn’t submitted anything in weeks and wasn’t expecting anyone to come ringing.
“I wonder what book waits for me in the library stacks,” I mused as I checked my voicemail.
“Hello, this is So-and-so calling for [Short and Feisty] from [Major Network]. We want to schedule you to audition for our Talent Showcase, please give us a call back.”
I furiously dialed the number, reached So-and-so, picked what kind of genre of a side (that’s the short blurb of dialogue you perform) I wanted to read, and scheduled my audition. Minutes later, I received an email with my side, directions to the building on the studio lot, and a short breakdown (description) for the character I would be reading for.
I then went and changed a dirty diaper, prepared fish sticks for dinner, and washed several crusty bottles just patiently waiting for me in the sink.
Talk about your Cinderella story.
I mentally smacked myself on the forehead over and over, playing the “what if you hadn’t checked that voice mail??” scenario in my head.
Rest assured, I have now been answering every call I get, even the ones I know are robots, in an attempt to not miss out on my Big Break.
I read over my side that night after a relatively easy commute home (it was obviously my lucky day!). I noticed that the dialogue was noticeably stereotypical for a minority: fresh out of prison, returning to a life in a broken home, with lots of family drama thrown in there.
BUT I DIDN’T CARE.
I knew that this wasn’t the time to feel slighted by Hollywood’s ability to pigeon-hole actors of color. This was my time to finally get my foot in the gold plated door.
So I read that side and pretended like it was a back story for one of the prisoners in the hit TV series “Orange is the New Black.” That show may play on certain ethnic tropes, but it’s for every ethnicity–every girl, no matter her color in that show, has broken the law to get sent to prison and one isn’t “better” than the other (though, they do argue about that).
This particular side had moments of anger, frustration, and sadness all rolled in to a few short lines.
When you’re given material before the audition, you have to try your best to memorize it, or at the very least, become incredibly familiar with it. You’re allowed to hold the side in your hand while you’re auditioning, but constantly looking down to reference it takes away from your performance.
I’ve never had trouble memorizing lines. I started memorizing the words from story books that my mother would read to me at bedtime starting around age 3 which eventually lead me to learn to read at 4. That wasn’t the hard part for me.
The toughest part of my audition process is keeping my anxiety at bay.
As a classically trained actor, performing on stage after weeks and weeks of rehearsal makes me feel incredibly secure in my abilities–I never get stage fright. On the other hand, having less than 24 hours to prepare for ONE SHOT at doing a dialogue with a scene partner that I’ve never met or rehearsed with sends me into a nerve induced tizzy.
The next day, I made my way to the studio 1.5 hours early even though the trip would’ve taken 20 minutes, tops (I knew where I was going). One way my anxiety manifests itself is to make me paranoid about being late. This is particularly ironic considering I live in LA, the land of the “Fashionably Late”, and in an industry that is constantly running behind schedule.
Unfortunately, for me, the parking lot was subterranean, so I couldn’t relax with my windows down and go over my lines. Instead, I spent a good 15 minutes sweating my butt off, wondering if there was seating outside of the audition room.
I threw in the sweat-soaked towel 45 minutes before my scheduled audition and went up the elevator and in to the behemoth of a building that the network casting offices are located in.
I passed security wearing the ID badge that I’d been given when I pulled on the lot. I pushed the button in the elevator that would take me to the second floor and waited the split second it took for the elevator to travel upwards to my destination. When the doords opened, I stepped out into the light of a brightly lit corridor and took in a deep breath as I looked at framed photos from the movies and television shows the network had created.
And then I turned my body in the direction of the casting room.
duh, Duh, DUH!
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!
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