Went to a showing of The Congress last night with a friend…neither of us really read what the film was about, but we both like Robin Wright and Jon Hamm and figured it was a drama we’d enjoy. Mistake. I’ll refrain from posting a Siskel and Ebert and simply say I’ll stick to watching House of Cards!
I’ve never been one of those who enjoys her neighbors…meaning, I like to keep to myself and appreciate it when others do the same. Not to say I’m anti-social or a snob, but when people live in close proximity to one another, I find a little distance is needed to maintain privacy. I definitely love my privacy…But I have to say these two guys, Greg and The Bear, have completely challenged my theory. They’re not only fantastic neighbors and genuine people, but they’ve become my good friends (and a trusted hairstylist! Thanks, Bear!) who make me bust a gut. Genuineness in L.A. is tough to find, let alone right next door, and I feel very blessed.
I had forgotten about this little piece I wrote back in 2011…people kept asking why I was no longer interested in being an actor. It was never published, even though I shopped it around, but I stumbled on it recently and thought I’d “publish” it myself.
A Stranger’s Approval
Her name was always Bambi. Or Candy. Or Paradise. Never Grace, Vivian, or Marjorie. Oh, no; Marjorie has the ring of an old maid and the entertainment business is all about availability, youth, and a globular rack. That is, if you went down the “sexy girl” casting route. And lots of beautiful or somewhat pretty and often vapid girls skip along that road. I did.
People have asked why I’m no longer an actor. “What happened to your passion?” they’d say. And I’ve never had a pat answer. I used to question whether I threw in the towel too quickly or hadn’t tried hard enough but upon heartfelt examination, I knew that wasn’t true. The truth was that proving myself worthy of a role, over and over, was exceptionally draining, especially when people saw me as a one-note character I’d grown tired of playing. The day in day out repetition…it was exhausting.
If I was required to count the number of hooker and stripper roles I’ve auditioned for in eight years I couldn’t come up with a tally. A guestimate, maybe. Over 200? Probably. Under 300? Possibly, but I’m not sure. Now that I’m no longer in that field, I marvel at the amount of mundane and sexist roles I tried out for (usually in a bikini or clubwear and occasionally topless if the role demanded it; I’ve never had qualms with showing the goods). I shake my head at all the time I wasted blowing out my long, naturally curly hair to make it sleek…how I tried to get the false lashes glued perfectly to my lash line…the mass amounts of pink gloss I went through to make sure my lips looked their Bambi best (lacquered DSLs were always hot on camera). Or how about making sure my Crisco mug was always adequately powdered? Especially the T-zone. Damn that T-zone! During the summer it took several powderings to leave a barely-matte finish before I was confident enough to set foot in front of the firing squad. And the butterflies…Jesus, I’d have a tsunami of jitterbugs in my stomach before I was scheduled for a casting. Once, I was so frazzled auditioning for the bigwigs at TNT that I completely blew my chances by way of a panic attack. Nothing like a fainting thespian to give her competitors an immediate edge.
Let’s say, then, with hair and makeup–and extra time was needed to cover tattoos (unless the part called for Ginger to be especially dirty)–we were at a solid two-and-a-half hours. At least. Every bloody time. Factor in, say, 250 auditions, that was 625 hours—not counting print castings, mind you, just commercials, TV, and film. Well over a month of my life was spent attempting to please some frau casting director who may or may not have thought I was the cat’s meow, may or may not have been on the rag, may or may not have been in the mood to meet the seventieth bimbette of the day. The variables were unending and stupefying. All that time I obsessed over my value as a woman only served in giving me a sweat-stained shirt and an empty bottle of Xanax. That was a lot to go through for the approval of a stranger, a one to three minute tryout. And what did I acquire out of those faster-than-you-can-order-Taco-Bell auditions? Occasionally I got the role, and when I booked–man, did I feel fabulous! Mostly, though, I felt nothing but a plethora of anxiety, regret (I should have chanted that last line with more bravado!), and a pit of worthlessness as deep as a lane of 405 rush hour traffic.
No longer am I desperate for a random schmuck’s approval. I’ve refused to allow others control my destiny and decide how pretty or talentless I am for my bread and butter. I don’t need it. That suffocating desire for validation has long since vanished. I’ve happily stepped aside to let the thousands of other girls in Los Angeles grapple for the role of: Busty Brunette, sexy but the kind of girl you can take home to Mom.
And that is why, ladies and gentleman, I am thankful I’m no longer an actor.