Friday, November 02, 2007

Actors must be CRAZY!!

I say that--not for the reasons you probably think (because the most obvious examples of actor craziness has very little to do with the actual craft of acting, and more to do with "celebrity", but I digress...) but because of stuff like this:

My manager called last night to tell me that I had an audition for "The Shield" and she was sending me the materials. It turns out that the role had no lines, but there was a very heavy emotional improv. I worked on it last night and this morning. I got to the audition, and heard the other actresses crying and screaming one-by-one in the audition room. Then it was my turn. I went in and did the same. After it was over (in 15 seconds), the casting assistant offered me a Kleenex to wipe my eyes, and told me I could take a moment to "compose myself". I had to laugh. I told her "Actors have GOT to be crazy to want to do this type of stuff to ourselves!"

We prepare for hours, drive for...hours (sometimes), to spend less than 30 seconds doing an emotionally gut-wrenching scene that requires us to imagine that some unthinkable, unspeakable act is being perpetrated upon one of our loved ones. Our job is to show up at the audition ready to EXPERIENCE what this feels like, and allow the camera to capture it. Then, if we are "lucky", we get the job. And that allows us to do more emotionally gut-wrenching work. Then we get paid to do what we've now been doing for free for some time.

And, personally speaking, what's even more masochistic about this is...I LOVE this stuff! I would rather play a character who is in a dark place than one who is normal (whatever that is) or an uptight professional (I was in corporate America for a loooong time--been there, done that). A writer-friend of mine once raised an eyebrow at me because I told her that I love to play drug addicts, gangbangers, and criminals in general. I know she was thinking of the decades in which black people were typecast into playing ONLY those roles. I don't feel that refusing to play these roles pays homage to my ancestors. On the contrary, I believe that exercising my ability and right to CHOOSE the roles I play honors them (and myself) moreso. Of course it depends on the context, and the writing. I hate buffoonery and GRATUITOUS violence and sexual situations with a passion, and shy away from anything that remotely suggest that these might be in play.

SO...after I left the audition, I stopped at Starbucks for an over-priced dessert drink with coffee in it and an apple-fritter (hey, a girl's gotta eat breakfast!) While on the way back to my car, juggling my drink, my purse, my keys, and my fritter, my phone started vibrating in my purse. I had my Bluetooth headset on, but my phone ringer was still turned off, so I couldn't tell who was calling (I have custom music for different callers), and I had a list of things to do for today, so I didn't want to answer the phone & get caught up in a conversation I didn't have time for. Turns out it was my commercial agent with a "Slim-Fast" audition for me. I ate my fritter and drank my dessert/ coffee drink in my car while listening to the message which was going to require me to drive back to the valley, change into yoga-wear, drive back over the hill to the audition (for which I was told to be prepared to show my stomach), come back to the valley to run errands, etc., then go back over to the other side of the hill to go to a play tonight. Whew! So I'm home now, gonna change into my yoga wear, put some cocoa butter on my gut (given the fact that it has an apple fritter sitting in it, I ain't gonna be exposed AND ashy!), and rock it like I paid for it.

Lots of auditions this week and lots of opportunities to act. I LOVE this stuff. Acting. Booking is a bonus. ;o)


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