Saturday, April 02, 2011
Last night before I went to the theatre to perform in my play, I received a commercial audition notice that gave me pause. It was for a household product, and they were looking for a tall, confident woman (check, check, check) who is 50-80 lbs. overweight (skreeeee-). What?? I read the sides thinking that they must just be looking at a variety of women because they aren't sure what they're looking for, but there is actually a line in the sides that says "I'm fat, and I'm fine with that."
I started to call my agent and tell him that I didn't think I was right for it, any more than I would be right for an audition where they are looking for someone who is 50-80 lbs. underweight. And that line about being fat & fine with it just didn't feel right. I work out for an hour at least 3 times a week, keep my diet in check most of the time, and encourage others to do the same. I do it, not so I can wear mini skirts & skinny jeans, but because I don't want high blood pressure and diabetes (which runs rampant in my family, and amongst black Americans in general), and when my weight goes up, I huff and puff when going up the stairs, and my knees hurt and I don't like that. So I watch it. To me, saying "I'm fat and fine with it" in a commercial is like condoning a self-imposed health problem. I would NEVER do a cigarette ad (they're no longer on TV, but still...), and I would find a commercial touting how skinny one is to be in poor taste. Even moreso if the actress was 50-80 lbs. underweight. So why paint obesity as "fabulous?" At the same time, I think it's important to feel "fabulous" enough to know that you are worthy of self care and proper health management.
Sigh... what to do?
I waffled so long that it would have been unprofessional to cancel. I worked on the sides, loosely committing them to memory. I put on a gorgeous dress that I've had for a couple of years, but never had the occasion to wear, piled my hair onto the top of my head in a heap of ringlets (it actually COOPERATED!), and painted my face something FIERCE. I put on a hot pair of stilettos, and a pair of dangly Swarovski crystal earrings (made by yours truly). Maybe I'm not right for this, but still - they called me. Maybe I AM right for this, and they see me as fat (which I am by Hollywood standards). Maybe they'll love me so much that they'll change the wording. Maybe they won't. My job is not to obsess over the minutiae - my job is to "werk it."
I decided to go in and give it to 'em. And decided that if I book it and they leave that wording in I'll donate a percentage of my earnings to an organization that promotes healthy living. Not really sure if that squares everything or not, but that's what I thought about on the way to my audition.
As I was waiting for my audition, a woman who I would consider to be closer to what they were looking for came in. I felt like an imposter - much like I did when I auditioned for the first commercial that I ever booked: everyone there looked like a super model, and then there was me. I booked it then, and maybe I'll book it now.
I am glad that auditions have picked up. I had a one-line audition for a BIG show this week, and it went well, but I wished it were a larger role. I didn't book it, but I got a call checking my availability for another show that they cast.
I also contacted SAG and had them send a letter to Actors' Equity letting them know that I am eligible to join. So I'll be contacting Equity next week to find out how I need to proceed.
There is always hope. And as long as there is hope, I can keep going.