Saturday, January 29, 2005

pilot season auditon day -- ground zero

what with all the music i'm doing, i almost forgot -- it's pilot season. a lot of actors i know are in a panic, bouncing back and forth from one coast to the other, in that never ending quest to get a sitcom or a tv series. or whatever. me, i'm building my reel and i'm being ultra-realistic about it. i mean, hey--there are some things i just can't control. like whether or not you think i'm cute enough to be in your movie.

my manager david called me a zillion times on thursday to confirm two auditions on late friday afternoon: third watch and law and order. david (finally) understands that i hate doing anything in the morning. i can't even stand to eat breakfast. if i can get away with it (and trust me, i try very hard), i sleep until noon. i do what i have to do but having to be somewhere at 9am seriously chaps my hide. of course, the paycheck softens the blow. but somehow, it's never enough.

i spent the better part of thursday night and most of friday morning running lines and thinking about what i'd spend the money on if i got the part. there's always that fantasy, that spend-spend-spend dreamscape that has me literally rolling around in money, flinging it up in the air like confetti and screaming my head off. and no, the windfall of cold hard cash hasn' t happened yet. great gigs. stellar reviews. but no money confetti. *sigh*

the first audition was for law and order at astoria-kaufman in queens. this had three scenes. nice juicy ones. and it was for the executive producer, on camera. none of that prescreen stuff. three scenes also means working for a week. i showed up 45 minutes early and sat in the holding room, beating my face and chit-chatting with the other actors, one of whom had to leave quick-fast-in-a-hurry to nurse her red-headed five month old in brooklyn. by the time i went in the room, i was hardly nervous. it was like getting shot out of a cannon. it was over as quickly as it began. the next thing i knew, the indian security guard was pointing me toward the R and i was making my way to green point.

i forgot how much i like it out there. everything is in polish. everyone is polish. lots of old beautiful churches. it was a long walk from the G but it was colorful. i was early again (!!!) so i stopped for some raspberries. something to nibble on while i waited for them to churn through the endless list of names.

as i walked along, i ran it all through my head a few times. this was one scene, only 3 or 4 lines at best. one day of work but if i got the part, i'd be wyclef's wife with a baby on my hip and a small child by my side. i remember wondering if he could act and thinking, probably not and then thinking, who cares anyhow. the camera is a director's medium. a halfway decent director can make him look like he knows what he's doing, either way. all these hip-hop and r & b folk wanna act 'cause there's gold in them thar hills, and it's really not hard work...not like musical theater, where you have to sing and dance and act simultaneously. and you can't just be attractive, you actually have to have charisma...

and then all of a sudden i was there on diamond street, marching up the stairs, down the plywood paneled hall. as i step into the waiting area--which was more hallway with chairs, really--i looked straight into the face of joie lee, spike lee's sister. she was hunched over her script and she looked up as i walked in. we looked each other in the eye for a split second. her look said, do you recognize me? my look said, i don't care who you are. and then i moved away from where she was, where she couldn't see me. nothing annoys famous people (or better yet, people who think they're famous) more than being ignored.

i'm thinking, she's done big movie roles--sure, they were mostly in her brother's movies, but still. she shouldn't be here with me and the unwashed masses, struggling to get that pilot season bone flung in her direction. she should be a little further along than that. shouldn't she?

i remember reading an interview where vivica fox (or was it halle berry?) said that she knew she made it when she no longer auditioned for the roles she wanted. she took meetings. that's an interesting marker that i never considered, probably because at the time i didn't have any idea how the business really worked for actors who had clout and fame. i read an article awhile ago where holly hunter made a point of saying that she auditioned for "the piano." so far, it's her best work. she should audition more often...

there were children all over the place. not just any children. show biz kids. the type that auditions all the time with their star-struck parents in tow. the kind that's cutesy on cue and knows how cutesy they are as they strike that pose. they're loud and they fling their hair and they know their lines. just a little too precocious. they're like stereotypical only children. they don't like it when you ignore them, either. when you do, they overcompensate by doing things to get your attention. like saying really adult things. or talking loudly. or having a crying fit. whatever.

once the kids cleared out, it looked pretty dismal. the black girl next to me looked positively desperate. in a bad way. she could have been pretty if she didn't look so stressed and freaked out. and if she didn't have bad skin. oh, well.

i went in and there was no camera but the gang was all there: producer, director, the works. the girl who announced me to the room was this lanky bony brunette who was all flat and dry about it and who said everyone's name at the table like it was all one word. so when i came in, i did the same thing, like i was scatting, and they laughed. four lines later, i was out the door.

good raspberries, i remember thinking as i left. i have to go back to the same fruit stand and get more for the train ride home...


Bud said...

You're kicking my ass with this stuff. It's so damn good. I have to get back to writing the stuff I was doing in November and around Christmas. Thanks for the inspiration.I hope you get some TV gigs and get to toss some green in the air. Roll around in it on your bed. Spend it on some dumb shit. Put that special smile on yur face.

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