they called me on monday for a commercial audition. something called "chase mileage" -- was i interested? it's all such a two-step for me by now that i took down all of the information and didn't give it a second thought. they wanted me to be a young mom. i didn't know what that meant anymore. renee suggested that i wear a particular wig that she knew i had -- she knows my closet quite well and i know hers, too (it's a blactress thing) -- but i can't do that. i think wigs make me look older. and desperate, somehow. it doesn't have that natural wow-i-didn't-think-that-was-a-wig-at-all look. i look like one of those painfully well-dressed senegalese girls that's trying a little too hard to get over. so i have wigs, just in case i need them but just in case never really happens.
there's a reason for that.
once upon a time, a fellow blactress explained it to me, in technicolor: in commercials, they like black girls with natural hair. that's reality -- the girl that clips coupons, changes the diapers and bakes. she wears practical shoes, says sensible things about over the counter medication and uses pine-sol. in the movies, they like black girls with perms and weaves. that's the fantasy -- the long hair, the knowing look, the fake nails. she wears heels, uses profane language and if she isn't a prostitute, she probably looks like one. television can go either way but usually if it's shot in el-lay, they go the weave route.
i don't straighten my hair. the reasons why are too numerous to mention. but trust me, they're good ones. if you put a gun to my head, i'll certainly do a press and curl if the role demands it but chemicals are not an option. and that's that.
the next morning was cold and rainy. i was on time and drowsy, dressed in a conservative woolen skirt and woolen sweater-jacket. and i was wigless.
there was another black woman there. we came up on the elevator together. she said, you look familiar. i said it would probably hit her later that afternoon, why she thought she knew me. she was darker than me and she had on a lovely burnt mustard-yellow shirt and she had dreads. as we stepped off the elevator, we were whisked into the room without even signing in. there were four of us -- she and i and an older white couple. we were to play musical chairs. the catch was that all of us were able to sit down comfortably. when we sat down, we were to give each other knowing looks. and that was it. we slated, he shot it and the next thing i knew, i had finally signed in. as i left, she remembered me -- from a swing band i used to sing with a few years ago. small world.
as i got on the elevator, a tall good-looking black man got on with me, half-smiled and said, you look familiar...