4.10.2008

Lessons Learned

Yesterday I auditioned for a major credit card commercial slated to feature two well-known, entertainment personalities. (I don't think I should name them, but let's say their names rhyme with Dina Dey and Bartin Borsese.) I had been contacted for this audition by a CD who rarely calls me. In fact, it would be fair to say I almost never hear from this CD. This was a last-minute thing, but I arranged my schedule because the gig had promising potential. Thankfully, the copy was available in advance, so I had a little time to look it over--only seven lines. I could do seven lines.

I planned to get there early--really early. This CD has a habit of nurturing chaos in the waiting area and people end up being there for a long time. It's not fun. I wasn't going to be stuck there all day, so my plan was to get there early, sign in first, audition and leave. And that's mostly what happened.

I arrived slightly too early--55 minutes early. Oh well. I could practice my seven lines. Powder my face. Take slow, deep breaths. Check my voicemail. Instead, the CD came out and said, "Oh, great. Do you want to type something?" Do I want to type something? What? Type? At an audition?! "Sure," I heard myself saying, thinking, Okay. Strange. But I could make a good impression by typing something for these folks. So, they sat me down at a computer, opened a blank Excel spreadsheet and gave me a six-page list of handwritten names of people who had recently auditioned for another project. I quickly entered the data only to be told, "Oh, you entered all the names? We only need those names with the "OK" next to them." So, I expertly removed the names of the unwanted. I then excused myself to the waiting area, asking, "Should I fill out one of the sheets on the clipboard?" I knew the answer would be "yes". And it was.

After completing the form, I did practice my lines. I did powder my nose. I did take deep breaths. I paced around for about 20 minutes, and then other talent (for the four auditions that were slated to occur simultaneously) began to arrive: models, pirate-looking men, historical performance folks.

The CD came out and inquired of my queue, "Is anyone ready?" (Did you notice? The CD didn't even check the sign-in sheet to view the order of our arrivals.) Wanting to get it over with, I raised my hand and was led into the audition room where the assistant CD and the camera operator were waiting. I took my place on the mark. While the camera operator was adjusting my mic, the CD, who had left the room, walked back in and addressed the assistant CD saying, "you see these empty chairs here along the wall? They should always be full with the next girls." I was incredulous as the assistant CD opened the door and called in the five girls I had been sitting with. Quickly they populated the four empty chairs in the room.

And there they sat, watching my two rehearsals, my reduction from seven lines to two, my slate, and my ONE audition. I was only offered one take.

I had to audition with the other actresses SITTING. IN. THE. ROOM. SITTING IN THE ROOM! I have NEVER been to an audition where the competing talent sits in on each others' auditions. The whole idea is ludicrous! I was livid. I may still be.

Frankly, I feel there is no way in Hell for me to get this gig. Really. I mean, five other actresses got to see my audition as well as the auditions of the other girls in front of them, so they were able to make adjustments in order to distinguish themselves from the other auditionees. The only things I think I have going for me are these:

  1. My outfit was great: I looked just like an airline employee with the shirt, the blazer, and even an ID tag on a lanyard.
  2. I have red hair: I'll stand out. None of the other actresses has red hair.
  3. I'm first: I'll be first in the pile of headshots, I'll be first on the DVD. They'll just see me first.

This was a very educational and un-fun experience and these are the lessons learned:
  1. Never volunteer to audition first.
  2. Ask if the other talent will be invited to sit in the audition room with you.
  3. Never expect equitable audition practices amongst myriad casting directors.

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