Embrace the Detours

When you’ve finally made the decision to do something new, the adrenaline courses through your veins as whatever discomfort or fear liquefies into motion–action.

Mood music!

Last Monday before class, I learned of a juicy role that felt like it was written for me. It’s on a hit series on a major network, natch. A character I embodied so much so that I could wake up, walk into the audition room, and just nail it. You want someone with martial arts experience too? Just stop. Please. Let’s book this.

I look tough, right? hahaha, minus the scalloped lace on the tank top!

There are many, many gatekeepers between myself and this scenario, of course. (Of course.) There are the thousands of actors and hundreds with agents that are bombarding the casting office to come & read for this one role. This office likely has a full staff vetting these actors on top of the actors they’ve already seen, know, and love and might just directly offer. There are the casting directors (CDs), associates, and assistants all with varying degrees of say. I’d like to think varying degrees of opportunity & connection.

Without an agent, it’s nearly impossible to even submit for the role because these offices go to their trusted agents first before opening up the role to any other tiers. Usually, the role is cast from that first tier. Then they release the casting notice to agency accessibility only. Slim chance. How does an agentless actor such as myself get even remotely into the mix? Voodoo magic, baby. Okay, so it’s not that sexy. Some actors get informed by their peers when they’re going up for similar roles to submit directly with the CD via emails or drop offs. Ah, drop offs. I’ve heard of this technique which some of my repped and unrepped friend’s swear by. I guess I had been so focused on getting my work in front of CDs and meeting with agents and managers that I just hadn’t thought of it as a viable option. I also dreaded the awkwardness and the potential rejection. Moi? Afraid of a little rejection? I know!

I resorted to my normal strategy: research the CD’s contact info, look up & attend any workshops she was running, and/or try to find sides online to tape & email. No go. I had to figure out a new strategy, or give up. Since I wasn’t going to settle for some of the agents approaching me, I committed myself for creating my own work every single week of the new year. That meant putting myself on tape or in front of the casting director of the project I wanted to work on. So after class, I hustled over with my headshot & resume determined to hand over my goods and get myself in to audition for that role. My first drop off.

Music blasting, wind in my hair, I hummed my way through traffic to approach the casting office. Shit, it’s on a Studio lot. For a second, I considered blowing past security to deliver my headshot & resume but considered the long-term consequences. Oh, and the arrest. Then I drove to another address I found for the same CD. Why not? What did I have to lose besides a bit of gas? Damn it, closed. Disappointed, I headed to Costco before heading to my aunt’s birthday dinner that night. Might as well get an errand accomplished while I’m at it right? 😛

Look familiar? Could be the sign you need!

The unexpected is the norm in this career and so is the lack of professionalism, but it was the sheer amount of it from the people I work closely with throughout this past week that threw me for a loop. An uncanny abundance of roadblocks. The weekend before class I had spent most of my waking hours reading & revising scripts as the Head of Development. One spec script & two originals. I even troubleshooted some technical issues with the files so they could be received by the deadline. Only to find out at our biweekly meeting on Tuesday that half of the team wouldn’t make it and NO ONE else had met the deadline. It was disheartening and extremely frustrating to maintain the integrity of my work and give up time somewhere in my career and life. I found out I had an audition for HBO on Tuesday night and reached out to a co-worker to see if she wanted to work my Wednesday night shift at my survival job so I could properly prep and then be primed on Thursday morning for my audition. She hemmed and hawed and finally at 3 am that day I had to switch with another girl to open the restaurant. I worked the morning to afternoon shift exhausted and laid on the floor of my living room when I got home before continuing to work on my audition. Friday, I got a call from an actor I was working with on a scene for an important event and instead of responding to my approval of the final version of the scene to use (despite us having locked it down at least a week ago, this actor reached out to me for approval on another version), I was told some other version of the scene had to be used because this actor had already sent it someone else to work on as well. I voiced my frustration for sure pointing out all the facts: Why change the version less than a week before the event? Why ask for my opinion if it wasn’t going to be respected? This actor then broke the cardinal rule of theatre: directing another actor. Instead of owning up to what had happened, this actor began to give excuses about schedule and busyness, to sell me on the necessity of the changes, then tried to discuss how much work I had done on the scene as a reason to not do the scene at all. This actor tried to tell me what I needed to do in order to be ready for the event. Oh, no. No, no, no. I’m ALWAYS up for collaboration. It’s one of my favorite aspects of acting. I’m great at taking in feedback because that’s the only way to really improve. But to tell me how I need to work or how the technique I use wasn’t going to deliver results? Very disrespectful. And jokes on you, bud. Our technique isn’t about results. It’s about discovery. I mean…the WHOLE point of my technique is that you can create an entire, authentic life of a character and be off book to deliver without necessarily having the entire script at your disposal. This actor knew it, and yet. Insult to injury.

My cortisol level was up for sure, but the most salient aspect of that week was how I handled it. Instead of cowing to the excuses (and I know the difference between reasons and excuses…reasons I adapt to and assist!) and swallowing my frustrations, I voiced them while still maintaining my dignity. I made sure it was clear in all these relationships that I refused to be disrespected. My time is so short & valuable that I don’t want it wasted. I listened to my gut, which is helping me to discern between instinct and ego. Though I may have been stymied, I didn’t stop. I stayed in motion. So stay in motion, my loves. Even if you have to stop to rest & recover…even if your pace is a crawl.

I’ve auditioned for them so many times! And yet this week’s audition had me in a tizzy! 

The other huge ‘win’ of the week that could easily be overshadowed was that I got an audition for a hit HBO show WITHOUT an agent. Because of unexpected (yup), last minute shifts in my schedule, I was able to attend a CD workshop. The CD loved my work enough to bring me in two weeks later! While it was super important for me to evaluate all the things impeding me so I can make changes for the future, the best part was knowing I could get past them and focus on the good. The unsuccessful drop off attempt? Not a failure but a detour! Sometimes I find the best traffic shortcuts when I accidentally get detoured! What was your ‘good’ for the week? What detours learned you?

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