Surprise! You’ve Got an Audition in Less Than 24 Hours–Part 2!

*Read Part 1 over here*

Ahem, where were we? Oh, yes. I began my walk down the corridor towards the casting offices. On my way there, I saw a bathroom and quickly ducked into it. I wanted to make sure I didn’t look as disheveled as I felt.

I “took care of business” in the restroom (I’m pretty sure y’all don’t need details), and exited. A little further along, I came across a sitting area with several tense looking adults in various states of nervousness. Some were sitting mouthing words, others were walking around, gesticulating to no one.

I knew I had found my people.

I painstakingly wrote my information on the sign-in sheet and saw that, though others were reading for the same characters, no one but me had the one I had been assigned. I took that as a good omen. The reader and casting director wouldn’t be hearing the same old piece when I went in to read. It would be a breath of fresh air. At least, I hoped so.

I put my things down and sat on a couch opposite a few other actors. One was dressed in a full suit while the other was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. I have no idea if they were matching their clothes to the part they were reading, or if this was their normal audition attire–just goes to show that an industry like this has very few solid guidelines.

After sitting in a pretty comfy armchair for about five minutes, I needed to stand up and readjust my clothing. As soon as I got to my feet, I knew that sitting had been a bad idea as my entire body had contorted into one very tense ball of energy. I needed to get up, stretch, and stay standing. Even if that meant I was up for the 30 minutes between then and my scheduled audition time.

I moved over to the adjacent hallway and took my friend Marina’s advice to do a “power stance”. You raise your arms above your head and spread them apart, while also spreading your legs apart (your body is basically shaped like a star).

Joy from Pixar’s “Inside Out” in an upside down power stance

In combination with deep “belly breaths” this is an incredibly effective way to calm your nerves and boost your confidence before an interview or audition.

Then I stretched, paced, and went over my lines for what seemed like an entire lifetime.

Just when I thought that I couldn’t wait a second longer, I was called into the audition room.

I was introduced to the reader and the casting director and found my “mark”–a piece of tape–on the floor in front of the camera.

My delivery was a blur. I knew that I’d gotten all of the lines right, but my performance started on such high energy that I had no where to go. I plateaued as soon as I started.

Woops!

The casting director noticed. I thought I was done for.

“I like what you did,” she said, “but this time, I want to see more levels. I want to see you start off a little softer so that you can grow throughout the piece. Let’s do it again.”

HOLY CRAP. She gave me an adjustment–that happens SO LITTLE in this industry. It’s usually a “one and done”. I knew I couldn’t screw it up this time.

With a renewed sense of confidence, I started over. I made eye contact with the reader through out–I matched her tone and intonation and it was as if we were actually having a dialogue (shocking!) instead of me reciting some meaningless lines. Most importantly, I sloooooowed dooooooown. You’ve only got them held captive for as long as you’re in the room and doing your lines. Milk it. (But don’t get crazy.)

After we had finished, the casting director gave me a very generous, “Great job, that was a nice adjustment” with such sincerity that the people-pleaser in me knew it would never get better in life than this moment.

Walking out of the audition room and out of the ginormous studio building, I felt good about my audition, which happens very rarely.

What happens next?

I forget it ever happened.

No, seriously. In this industry, if they like you, they’ll call you. If they don’t, you’ll never hear from them again. Ever. That’s how it works. So, instead of stressing about “will they, won’t they” you train your brain to forget that there’s even a possibility that you may be chosen.

Happy ending….right?

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Surprise! You’ve Got an Audition in Less Than 24 Hours–Part 1!

“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.”

GAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

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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27 Trips Around the Sun– A Short and Feisty Birthday

Oh, my LANTA. I can’t believe it’s been 27 years since my eyes first beheld the harsh lights of the hospital delivery room. I came out screaming and yellow, since I happened to have jaundice. I spent plenty of time in a tiny little incubator to “get things moving” and that’s the last time I spent anytime in something resembling a tanning bed.

This is the first birthday where I actually feel “old”– I can’t really explain it, but I no longer feel like the spring chicken I always thought I was. Yes, I will look back at this blog in 50 years, using the wifi connected micro chip imbedded in my skull, and laugh at the thought of considering 27 to be a geriatric age. But–man–I’m at an introspective time of my life where I look back on all that’s passed and think, “Back Then was a long time ago.”

I miss the days of going to Taco Bell with my best friends before Girl Scout meetings, of the elation I felt on the first days of elementary school, and I miss the feeling of invincibility that tiny little Short and Feisty used to radiate. From my teenie tiny stature, I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted–I just had to grow up a little more, learn a little more, and wait for the future to come to me.

Now, to be honest, all I feel are limits.

I hate to Debbie Downer my own birthday, but I’ve always been a realist. I’m feeling the limits of my spinster hood (no joint finances, no kids, no house with a washer/dryer in unit–I want the washer and dryer more than the rest, no shame felt), I’m feeling the limits of Hollywood (knocking on your door, suckas, won’t you consider opening a crack?), and I feel the limits of my sanity working this Nanny Day job with children trying to test me at every moment. BUT–

and that’s a BIG BUT

along with these limits, I’ve been able to see a tiny stream of light symbolizing what could be if I tried a little harder, waited a little longer, and stopped watching so much damn Netflix!

So here are some random positive epiphanies that I couldn’t have come to at 26 that I am now experiencing at 27:

  • Though lacking a nuclear family for which I am the boss/dictator/queen head of household, I am abundantly wealthy in family, friends, and friends that are family. I’ve got a ton of tiny babies to send love to, from a distance (unfortunately), and friends who patiently counsel me through some really difficult moments. I’ve got more true friends than I can count on two hands and two feet!
  • I’m still in LA–one of the toughest parts about breaking into the entertainment industry is learning how to survive in NYC and LA: two of the most expensive places to live in the US. But my former full-time work schedule allowed me to save up enough and find a job that allows me to cut back on hours and actually write more. It also puts me in a position to audition more if I ever strike gold twice and find another elusive agent.
  • I’ve stopped actively looking for Mr. Right. If that bastard wants to show up within the next decade, great. After that, all bets are off because I’m becoming a COUGAR.
  • My anxiety levels have plummeted since quitting my celebrity nanny job–I’ve learned that I’m definitely not suited to working underneath a “type A” Nanny Mom Boss. I know too much about children to be micromanaged! As a result, my quality of life has skyrocketed.
  • In the last year, I paid off both my student loans and credit card debt–in full. With the exception of my car loan (a big exception!) I’m living debt free and it’s incredibly freeing.
  • I’ve been researching several lifestyle changing opportunities that I could pursue while also pursuing acting/writing. I’m not at a place where I feel I can share them with the world, but I’ve told a few friends and family and have largely gotten support. I’m excited about the possibility of them, and I desperately need to have life goals separate from Hollywood.
  • I ran two half marathons last year–HOLY CRAP I RAN TWO HALF MARATHONS IN THE LAST YEAR.
  • I’m alive. I’m breathing. My body is (mostly) fully functioning. If that isn’t potential for greatness, I don’t know what is.

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