It seems like just yesterday – the giant purple gown, the super noisy…noisemakers, the never-ending crowd at (old) Yankees Stadium…
But I did graduate. And – I’m embarrassed to say – I did have the “OK world, I’m ready: cast me!” moment. Okay maybe I had a LOT of those moments. And when my call went unanswered, I panicked. I froze. The terror seeped in – I went to acting school WHY?! – and I dug myself deep into a rut I thought I’d never escape.
But, in the words of Stephen Sondheim, “I know things now, many valuable things that I hadn’t known before.” There are some things you just can’t learn in the safety of acting school.
Sure, we learned about the practical things – like “there will always be someone who hates your headshot” and “learn how to properly apply makeup so you actually do look like your headshot, not a clown” – but there’s so much more to being an actor than how to audition and effectively analyze a script.
One of the reasons I love this industry so much is because it’s physically impossible to know everything. And if these past few years are an example, I have SO much yet to learn. The most important thing I’ve recently discovered is that, for me, the journey through the unknown isn’t scary anymore. It’s exciting! I know. Crazy, right? I have no clue where I’ll be next week/month/year or who will be paying my next (acting) paycheck. And that’s okay.
It’s also okay – by me, at least – that I’ve given up trying to please the intimidating people (aka “The Big Cheese”) on the other side of the casting table. Because honestly? There’s no way I can know what they’re looking for. All I know is if I’m in that room, I’m meant to be there. All I can do is be prepared and be consistent and give the best audition I can. My personal best. (I know I’m starting to sound cliche and sappy – forgive me. I’m getting to the point.)
Words cannot describe how valuable this lesson has been for me. How lessening my control (just a bit) and relaxing (a lot) have brought me leaps and bounds further than where I was even two months ago. Case in point:
This past Friday I went to my first pilot audition of the season. My first pilot audition…well…ever. It was a FOX TV Studios drama for ABC; I auditioned for a cop named Leigh. My wonderful agent called me the day before, sent me the sides and – when I requested it later that night – the full pilot script, and I got to work.
The beauty of pilots is the characters are raw material; I had a unique opportunity to create a person based solely on the words on the page. I had so much fun becoming Leigh, and I think it showed in the audition room.
I went on-camera for Marci Phillips and John Ort (both of whom I’d had the pleasure of working with in workshops this winter). Neither of them wanted to give me adjustments because they enjoyed my choices so much! As I left the room, Marci even said how pleased she was to see me bring myself to the character 🙂
Needless to say, I felt (feel!) pretty darn proud of myself. Getting rid of those demons – you know, the ones that make you dwell so much on the “what ifs” and the “that wasn’t rights” that you’re never actually IN the moment, enjoying yourself? – is the single most satisfying thing I’ve done for myself since graduation.
But I ain’t done yet. My first pilot audition is now in the producers’ hands…but the season is far from over. Let the wild pilot season start!