In addition to being an (un)successful writer I’m also a world-renowned (obscure) actress. Did you miss my starring role black in Black Swan? What about my four episode arc in The New Girl. Oh that’s right, it wasn’t me. My acting career is currently limited to my improv class and various background gigs. Yesterday I had the extreme (dis)pleasure of expressing my art (being herded around) on the set of a talk show and I was forced to do some self evaluation. Why is it that a thin, attractive person who is capable of memorizing lines and emoting, is not booking work? After failing to be called in for many auditions, I’ve finally realized and been told (accidentally overheard) some of the reasons why this may be the case. I’ve compiled this very short list so that my fellow aspiring thespians may glean from my knowledge and avoid these problems in their own careers.
1) No one wants to f*ck you. Remember when the movie industry was about talented, unattractive actors giving really heartwarming performances? Neither do I. In England it might be okay to be less than a seven and throw your accent around with Shakespeare and emotional memory, but Hollywood is not a town built on inner beauty and talent. I’m pretty sure those things are frowned upon actually. As I’ve mentioned before, I look like a child 90 percent of a time, but like one who has a curfew and maybe has recently gotten her headgear removed, not a primetime CW vixen. Unfortunately this means that the only people who think I’m doable are usually sex offenders, and casting directors don’t like that, which means audiences won’t like that, which makes me less bookable. If the casting director doesn’t tell you to take your shirt off when you’re auditioning for a toothpaste commercial, you’re probably not good for ratings.
2) You don’t know how to read castings. In my misguided attempts to gain vouchers, I’ve submitted more than once for roles with descriptions like “Sexy bikini babe” and “beach hottie.” See 1. Also, what I didn’t realize is that though you may look good in a bikini by virtue of your flat stomach (and flat chest) it does NOT mean that you will book “Rush Call! Hot poolside girls for Entourage.” Let me be clear- you definitely won’t book that. When you see anything that says hot, avoid it unless you look like a Playboy bunny. I learned the hard way. When I regrouped I thought that maybe I should just submit for fitness shoots, you know workout videos and industrial health equipment ads. Wrong again. Those CDs are actually looking for women who look like WWE wrestlers, and that is not me. So let’s review, I look like I’m in high school, but not in a 90210 way, I don’t have man-muscles and no SAG vouchers. #failing. I’ve also mistakenly submitted for “African American featured club extra” and been turned down a multitude of times. Apparently I’m not African American enough because I don’t have a neck tattoo, a curly fro, and of course no T&A. “If you’re going to try to get booked off of your ethnicity, you really have to be more convincing than that. How about you try a ‘ghetto’ accent. have you ever been to Crenshaw?” These are the things casting directors say to me. Sigh.
3) You’re actually a great actor. There is a possibility that unlike me, you have been classically trained, you can convincingly do 7 different British accents, which are remarkably distinguishable from your Scottish and Welsh ones, you have a good headshot and you know how to give and take with the other actors in the scene. You know all this, but you find yourself sitting next to me in the ‘background holding” area which is either freezing, sweltering or both depending on the production company. Why have you found yourself in such a predicament? Because this is Hollywood and life isn’t fair. If you don’t have an agent and you’re not the right person’s nephew you will be a starving artist with me for quite some time. Who told you they were giving out Oscars at LA’s city limits? That person was lying. That person may have been from Barbizon…
So back to my “acting” experience for the day: as I listened to the girl next to me talk about the nine commercials she’s allegedly booked, (Why the hell are you working for 64/8 if you’ve booked anything with residuals?) and thought about how I would have to rush off set to go to my uninspiring real job, I laughed to myself. Voucherless though I may be, nothing stopped me from telling at least four of my non-industry friends who don’t know any better that I was on set with celebrity-who-cannot-be-named-because-of-strict-NDA, and embellishing to the point that it sounded as if we had done a scene together. Hollywood is full of shit.
Craft Services: 0
SAG/AFTRA vouchers procured:0
On set experience: #meh