5 more days until I can have a bagel! Sweet baby bagel buns. Today it’s a lonely tuna salad on matzo. I need new crackers.
Auditioning has never been a nightmare for me, it’s also never been popcorn and Snow Caps.
Before the ink on my contract was dry, I was sent out for auditions. There was nothing memorable about that first week of auditions, except the one that was going to change my life forever (or so she thought).
It was an audition for Avy Kaufman. Avy Kaufman is a big fucking deal. Don’t believe me? Check this out: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0442090/
Let’s be honest with ourselves: there was absolutely no reason I should have been there. Since that audition, I have never stepped foot in her office. And I booked the gig, too! If someone asked me what my goals are now, one of them would be “Getting back into Avy Kaufman’s office,” because that’s when you know you’re doing something right.
The reason my green feet were granted permission to enter was because of the French director Antoine Charryeron. He wanted the best casting director (in the world) to audition, get this: NOBODIES.
The audition was for Warner Brothers France. A motion capture animated feature called The Prodigies, based on a popular French novel La Nuit des enfants rois by Bernard Lenteric. The film itself received heinous reviews which you can read on the Wikipedia page
But that all happened three thousand odd years after we finished filming.
The audition was one of the oddest experiences I had up to that point. Since then, I have had an assortment of auditions that range from euphoric, to embarrassing, to sepukku. And I intend to write the gruesome details of all of them.
I went into the room and the casting assistant was going to put me on tape. If they liked me, they would send the tape through to the director so that he could view the tape. As you see, if a casting director or assistant does not like you for any reason, let’s just, for whatevers and giggles, say your eyes are really big. “No, like, they’re huge,” your tape will never see the light of day. In fact, she’s probably not even recording. There is an evil that lurks in a casting office in Manhattan that grows more powerful every time it feasts upon my resentment and frustration, and presently, I refuse to feed that nefarious rogue donned in diamond studs and designer jeans.
Avy Kaufman’s assistants, however, are absolutely delightful.
The casting assistant asked me to go through a range of emotions: casual smile, to laughter, to sad, to crying, to anger, to a primal scream.
“So just walk you through a typical morning?”
I got the part. Not then and there, however. There is a certain protocol to these auditions, as some of you may know. Typically, there is a call back for the actors that the director liked from the tapes. During the call back you may be asked to do exactly the same material and no more, or you may be asked to read more scenes, sing a song while crying, draw a sad room with your hands, and improvise a scene from a World War I hospital.
This call back was with Antoine, and it was to go through the same drill that we had on tape. Turns out, the only people Antoine called back were the ones that he was going to cast. I got the part, and we would be flying to Paris, Luxembourg, and Belgium.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
It was happening! I had made it! Since I was five years old, I was writing stories and plays and forcing children to abandon their games of Connect Four, Guess Who, and States to perform my work. I carpooled to every playhouse and community theater in North Eastern Ohio, and prayed to all the stars and gods and goddesses to get me out of there! I wallowed, for four years in the conservatory, in a state of depression and grief for the career that would never materialize. But it was finally happening. I was going to go to motherfucking PARIS and earn $800/day in a legitimate SAG contract. And I was going to do it immediately!
They were flying us to Paris in two weeks to have a fitting and have plaster casts made of our heads, and then we would rehearse in Paris, and then fly to Luxembourg for the actual shoot.
There was only one thing that I needed to say goodbye to: Urban Outfitters.
If you think finding an acting job in New York City is tough business, finding a jobby-job is much more arduous. I came prepared with resumes in hand. I would walk door to door asking for applications. The problem was that every store hires online. This means that your application goes through several hands before it gets to the person in charge. Just like the casting director, if that server doesn’t think you’re qualified, the person in charge will never know that you are
- outgoing and courteous
- attentive and patient (shhhhhh)
- athletic and enthusiastic (I play skee-ball!)
I had hoped to work in a day care facility like I did in college. I love caring for children, animals, and the elderly. This was never going to happen because in New York City, you must have or be pursuing a degree in early childhood education. I had a BFA in dramatic performance.
I was turned down by Whole Foods, Sephora, AMC, Subway, and a long list of other chain food stores that smell like amputated body parts. I was eating Cup Noodles, potatoes, and one day I was so starved that I started eating coconut oil. I weighed 93 lbs. My growling stomach and the lack of air conditioning kept me awake all night. I filled up a mop bucket with icy water and put a t-shirt in it that I would drape across my naked skeleton until it heated up two hours later, waking me up in a panic, then I would dunk and drape again. What I learned from that awful period in my life is that I could have asked for help, and I should have.
Pride is a bitch.
Just when I thought I was going to have to throw in the towel and confess to the world that I was a failure, everyone’s hippest friend, Hipster Mchipsterson (or it’s Christian name, “Urban Outfitters”) asked me to come in for a group interview! And they hired me!
That same week, I found out I was going to motherfucking PARIS, so I had to tell them I no longer needed a job. I also didn’t need to extend my sublet since I would be away for a few months.
So, you’ll see why I was shit out of luck when after the costume fitting in Paris, the film was pushed back two months. No apartment to go back to, no job to pay for invisible apartment: I was a boomerang baby.
I flew to Akron, Ohio and lived with my mother until it was time to go back to Paris.
All of the celebrating I enjoyed with friends seemed like an incredible joke. I was doing chores, watching day time TV, and drinking a lot of Great Lakes beer.
But the day finally came, and I was off! I can’t explain the happiness that swelled inside of me during that flight. I finally had a purpose and someone thought that I was talented. I was worth a plane ticket and a weekly salary. Wahoodle, indeed!
That happiness would wane over the following months as I realized that it takes a lot more than one job to tame the destructive beast that is depression.