Sunday, November 14, 2010

I am a Girlfriend, then an Actress. No, an Actress then a Girlfriend,

Now, they tell you, you should know what type you are. I always say "Girl Next Door" or "Young Mom" because people love to cast me as a single mom in peril (even casting directors don't think I am the marrying type) and I do well with kids. Mostly, children respond well to me because I don't talk to them like they are fucking idiots. When I was 4 yrs old and in YMCA preschool, I remember very specifically thinking, I will never talk to kids like they are morons when I grow up. I haven't and they like it. Go figure.

Friday, I had two auditions. In addition, a casting director called me up and said she loved my comedic reel. She wanted me for a Brink's Home Security commercial spec. It would shoot the next day, on Saturday. I was supposed to train that day at the doggie boarding place, so I called work and they moved my training day to the following week. They took that well.

I called the casting director back and said I moved the day. She said there was a problem; the role was for an upper class house wife and I didn't have the look. They were going to see a few more people. That sucked. Worse case scenario, I wouldn't get the part or the work and I could sleep on Saturday since I already set up an intense weekend for myself.

She was apologetic and said she knew I could do it, but they couldn't see me in the role. I offered to send them my Mad Men pic, which looks nothing like me. Imagination, people!

The Mad Men pic was too dated in style. They wanted to see me. So I drove over to this dude's house (an African-American writer) who was on the other side of Los Angeles. I walked down to the lower level of his house and read the script on his living room couch.

It was hilarious.

Basically, a woman drops her wallet. A black men comes and tries to give it back but the woman runs and locks herself in her house. She screams, 'Don't rape me', he tries to explain, she says she doesn't speak Ebonics . . . then freaks out and calls the Brink's Home Security system. He is shot holding her wallet. Yeah. Funny.

I was excited and performed the commercial, alone, in front of his giant TV. He said, "Ok, thank you. One of the best I saw today. Really."

He walked me up the stairs to the sidewalk. It is always awkward after auditions. They want to validate you, but they are thinking so many other things about you and the production, that anything they say sounds a little robotic. I couldn't tell if he thought I could alter my look or if he really liked my performance.

I texted the casting director. She said they still weren't convinced about my "look."

Now, something got under my skin about the look fiasco. What did it mean that I didn't look upper class? I mean, why not? Was it my expressions? My long un-layered, hippie hair? Or my bad posture and stupid smile? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Eventually, I got the call that they wanted me. The casting director sounded exhausted, like there was absolutely no joy in giving me the part. Part of me was concerned that I wouldn't pull it off.

The next day I showed up to set in what I thought a New York housewife would wear, a short black dress or in this case, a long black top over a pair of skinny jeans and some heels. I was ushered into a bedroom where the make-up person would work on me. The make-up person is always the person on set I feel the most intimate with. Something about sitting there for a long period of time while they work on your face and hair, discussing your life and relationships. Its all so maternal, even if you have a gay guy instead of a girl.

If you cry in a scene, they touch up your make-up and inevitably calm you down so your face doesn't melt off. They are also, in general, really great people. I have never disliked my make-up person.

This girl transformed me. Fake eye lashes, curls, thick lips . . . it was weird looking at myself. I went through a few outfits until one was put together for me with the clothes I brought. Now, I should let you know that I don't have a lot of clothes, I mean nice clothes. And, in addition to that, I haven't done my laundry in a few weeks. Yeah. Its bad. I am always self conscious when I bring my wardrobe. Everyone always seems so disappointed. I don't know why? Obviously, I am missing something- like a checking account with money in it and some form of girlish upbringing that includes accessorizing, which (as a sidenote) I have never done. Its not very interesting for me, but I always like myself more after someone puts it together.

So they looked at what I had and made a nice outfit. Then we did the scene.

The guy that auditioned me ended up playing the other part and doing improv. So when the camera was on my side of the door, I did some improv myself. Now, its a slippery slope with the racial jokes.

I was one of two white people on set. I will go far with my humor, real far . . . but I am still totally aware that a joke from me had to be in the right zone. Not only are stereotypical race jokes boring and predictable (ie. chicken, watermelon, slavery, etc) but they are born from aggression. I don't know what these people have been through, and I wasn't about to find out where the line in the sand may be. So, I tried hard to be a racist, funny bitch in front of an African-American crew.

Keep in mind, in this scene I am hysterical from fear and shouting these lines through a closed door. I even worked up some tears.

Spring board is: "Don't rape me." I screamed, wailed and hissed:

"I should have voted for McCain"

"I was a virgin when I got married."

"I am very petite."

"I am on my period."

"My best friend is black. I don't have any pictures but you have to believe me."

"Why do I have to be so pretty? Whhhhhhhyyyyy?"

In general, I am not happy with a take until I see the camera man's shoulders start to shake from laughter. During a scene, I am listening and in my peripheral, checking to see if everyone on set is entertained. In a way, you are doing a live performance.

While on my knees, blubbering and crying, the director fed me the line:

"I dated a black man in college . . ."

Did he know what he was going to get?

Me (tearfully): "I dated a black man in college. We never went all the way but I tried, really hard. He couldn't fit all the way in. We ran out of lube." That last line is like my car, a little too dirty even for me.

My co-star said once that line came out, he had nothing. "Cut!"

The camera man laughed. The make-up girl clapped. And the crew echoed my lines amongst each other. I wanted to be light and laugh with everyone, but my energy was depleted. The part of me working up tears was in a terrible place.

I can cry in a matter of minutes, but I think about my animals dying. I am not sure if I have established yet that I rescue animals and fail to rehome them. Kind of a personal problem and the reason I am constantly in financial crisis. I have two cats and three pit bulls, one is old, the middle one is deaf and the youngest one is just . . . difficult/disturbed/emotionally unavailable but coming around. Mr. On The Right said something kind of magical when he met my youngest, Cupcake, "She is like the girls I approach for a date." She is scared all the time, and its almost impossible to make her feel at ease.

I also had a cat die last year through a violent end.

So, I thought about my oldest dog dying. How busy I am and how I don't get enough time with her. Maggie May is slowing down. She is different than the other two dogs because all she wants to do is be with me. She is the dog that adopted me. To imagine her dying while I am constantly working . . . well it can make me cry on cue. Throw in some images of the moment I knew I couldn't save my cat last year, when she was bleeding out in my car and you have tears, baby, lots of em'.

Now, while concocting this mental stew in my head, I have to think of hilarious things to say, and I was running out. Either the tears would stop or the comedy would stop. It was really difficult to keep the two parts of my brain running parallel at the same time.

In my last hysterical scene, I fall to my knees and crawl around upset. I was out of comedy and burned the skin off my knees. They cut and everyone was so complimentary. They said I was "a real actress." It is a strange compliment but I know exactly what it means. There are a lot of people who overthink things or just want to look pretty on camera, and there are roles for them. But I knew this role was meant for me.

I remember in film school, one actress said she needed to watch Schindler's List to work up some tears. So they went out and rented it, putting the entire set on hold, waiting for her to cry. She said for some reason it wasn't happening this time. Moron.

We had one more scene, where I come in and relax in front of the home shopping network after they shoot the man trying to give me my wallet back. I wasn't hitting the notes. I was coming from the pet cemetery and black dick jokes to the rich housewife we had already established I wasn't. No one laughed at my lines and we did it a few times. Energy was low when we wrapped. What can you do? My mind was just blitzed.

The director talked to me for a long time on my way out to my car. He was very complimentary and gracious. Just for the record, actresses need that to keep from going home, over analyzing how much they sucked and breaking their bathroom mirror. He continues to send me great emails, I really hope I formed a working relationship with that one.

I went to an audition, and then came home to take a nap. After I ate and ironed my clothes for the valet work that night, I didn't have enough time for a nap. So I worked valet until midnight and fell asleep by 1am.

At 4:30am, I got up to get ready for work at the doggie day care. I worked there til 2pm, then drove to another commercial spec (remember the condom commercial audition?). Well, I didn't get the part of the girl who dies during childbirth and asks for a condom in post-coitus. Actually, I got no part. When an actress backed out (the mother of a little girl who screams when a serial killer bursts in their front door), I immediately agreed to take the role.

I should say here, its not about pride. Not getting a part is about so many things; the look, the personality, the schedule, the chemistry, the voice, the hair, the height, the skin color . . . I mean, everything about you is a factor in one much larger picture.

An acquaintance said he auditioned Philip Seymour Hoffman for a play before he got famous. He said his audition was unforgettable but he wasn't what they were looking for. Hoffman also mentioned in an awards speech that you should use any platform someone gives you to hone your craft. It really inspired me. If its just about going to a room and performing in front of 3 people, you should do it to find what works and test who you can become.

Not to mention, Saturday Night Live originally chose Chevy Chase over Bill Murray for the first season. When Chase started his (very mediocre) film career, they asked Bill Murray to come on. He took it. What if he was too proud or offended or stubborn? We wouldn't have a Bill Murray. MMMMMM . . . Bill Murray.

So if someone wants to give me sloppy seconds on a role, FUCK IT. Without a doubt, I accept!

Condom commercial

I came to set exhausted. I was averaging 4 hours of sleep a night and it was making me incredibly cranky. They gave me the wrong address for set and I didn't grab espresso beforehand. GRRRR! While waiting in my car, a man named Tito came out to have an extensive conversation with a gentleman in a brand new BMW. I wonder if he was asking for directions?

Then, I got the right address and had the pleasure of meeting my co-star, a little 5 year-old vegan.

We got along right away, of course. She was mesmerized by my iPhone, but then again, who isn't? She wanted my attention and wanted to play games and wanted to ask questions. Her mother was also a vegan. She adopted the little starlet from a drug addict and refused to feed her anything but organic, vegan food.

Its hard being vegan. When I first turned, I was 20 and pissed off. The anger simmers to a boil, you get frustrated with people not listening to you, not caring, not educating themselves, not being disciplined. Now, I always say, if I chose my friends based on their diet, I would be a very lonely person. I let it go. I don't bring it up with people, I let people bring it up with me. I answer their questions and have a conversation about it. You can lead the horse to water but you can't make them eat Tofurkey.

Vegan Mom was very much into forcing the subject. She talked about how picky she was with submissions, how she demands organic food on set for her child, how outrageous this and that is. How people make fun of them or attack her, blah fucking blah. Look lady, I even tuned you out, alright! SHUT UP!

Not to mention, the little girl was hungry and the fruit wasn't organic. Jesus. You have to bring your own food to set, I learned that a long time ago. You can't expect people to research your diet on top of locations, wardrobe, crew, schedule . . . its impossible. That said, I was in desperate need of an Americano.

I was willing to go out and get some, not even just for me but the crew. The director insisted I be waited on like a princess. I wasn't about to argue with him. Now, on to the "Tarantino-esque" director from two blogs ago. He was young and high on some chemical imbalance. He wanted what he wanted. He didn't want to compromise. He told me he hated production at this level because of the compromise. I said, that is the beauty of production, you invent something different, even better, than your imagination. That's what makes it a collaboration.

No, he didn't like that. In addition to his high standards for imagination-to-screen, he wanted me in a juicy couture short short outfit. Well, I don't have short shorts. I used to, but my dogs ate them. And they sure as hell weren't juicy couture. I don't even know what juicy couture is. I emailed the wardrobe guy that all I had were some cute sundresses. He said that would be fine.

When I got to set, I held out four options and said, "Let me apologize in advance for being poor and having bad taste." He picked out a dress he liked, I mean . . . this is one shot of me watching TV with my daughter when a man with a knife bursts through my door. That's it!

The director, however, was unsatisfied with the dresses I brought. Who isn't disappointed in my wardrobe? I think I should hold an annual convention for my boyfriend, Jaq and all these directors and wardrobe people to complain about what inadequate clothes I have. He mentioned a few times this isn't what he asked me for. Ok, I was coming in on this last minute and I wasn't about to spend the last 24 hours before wardrobe emailed me to go out and buy Juicy fucking bullshit with the last $20 I had. So we settled on a t-shirt dress that showed enough leg but didn't, and I am quoting this, "scream rape me." That's right, he wanted me to be sexy but not scream "rape me".

Now that wardrobe was settled, I went out to talk to the make-up person. His name was Josh and he was spending a lot of time on the crazy dude breaking through my front door. Josh was cute in that "I don't give a fuck" kind of way. Deliciously disheveled with a piercing through his lower lip. I asked him if he was doing my make-up. He said no. In fact, he barely even looked at me.

I went to my car and put on a little color. I have gone on camera with too little make-up and too much. It really can make or break you in a scene. Unless you have some awesome scene where you are crying your eyes out, your make-up matters. You will look plain and pale with nothing, and you will look like a transsexual with too much. Its distracting. *Sally Field does her own make-up to make sure its right.

I put on a bit and came in. The director said I didn't need make-up. (sigh) So he spent a few minutes evening out spots on my face with his fingers, while deeply staring into my eyes. At the end he told me how pretty I was. I almost wonder if little boys were given dolls to play with, would it diminish the amount of men aspiring to be directors?

My Americano came. MMMMMMMM. Deliciousness.

Josh, my stuck up make-up guy, needed to touch up the burns on my knees from yesterday's shoot. Finally, he HAD to work on me. I kept dropping comments like, "I thought you were too good for beauty make-up" and "got you on your knees, right where I want you."

He was still quiet as he dabbed in his make-up kit.

I said, "Porcelain please (in reference to foundation color) Just kidding." He said, 'The girl yesterday asked for a specific color too, but she wasn't joking."

He got down to dress my wounds. I said, "I showered before I came, I hope you appreciate that."

He said, "I do."

Right around here, I realized it sounds like I am flirting with him. Sometimes I just don't know what to do with myself.

I said, "I didn't moisturize. I only do that for first dates."

He said, "Can't wait to find out more about you."

I said, "I don't cook or clean," and then "Do you want to know what a room smells like with a pile of month old dirty laundry? Come by my place."

Jesus, I was flirting now. I tried to put the stops on it. I kept checking my phone for Abe, but he has slowed his communication recently. I also haven't seen him in over a week.

Josh said, "Cause you only moisturize on first dates."

I said, "That's not the only thing I only do on first dates."

I heard Vegan Mom shout, "KEEP IT PG, PLEASE!"

The Americano has pushed me over the edge, I now lost the approval of Vegan Mom.

Josh watched us shoot the scene while eating a banana through a crack in the dining room. He and the guy who was working on getting the door to burst open would laugh at my jokes with the little girl.

We both had to pee, and I told her if we concentrate hard enough, we can sweat out our pee. I forgot to tell her that was a joke.

The scene happened in about 12 takes or so. It was one shot with a steady cam. Everything had to be right, and of course, between my espresso and my sense of humor, the little girl couldn't stop smiling during the takes. Poor little girl, Director Juicy Couture was trying very hard not to get frustrated with her! I asked her what scared her. She said The Ring. Why The Fuck has a 5 yr old seen The Ring????? She recovered after that.

The psycho killer actor bursts in with his big butcher knife, licked it, looked at us. It was repulsively good. I know what I was thinking with each take to get my expression right as we screamed.

After we wrapped, I asked, "Is the child out of the room?" The Mom barked, "NO! She's on the porch." Wow, I really lost her approval, and in just a matter of 45 minutes. Impressive.

I turned to Josh, the actor, production designer and stunt door guy and said, "You know what psycho killers like that do with heads after they cut them off?"

"What?" They asked.

I said, "They take the decapitated heads and (silently mouthed) "fuck" them."

Josh, "You have been holding that in for 2 hours, haven't you?"

Me, "It makes perfect sense, men are already so sexually driven. Give them any body part in any position and that's what you get." I shivered.

The actor said, "No wonder you were looking at me like that."

Josh said, "I think you have a morbid fascination with it."

I said, "I think I would rather be raped. Something about fucking my severed head feels like a real violation. And then, with my daughter there too." Shivered again.

Josh said, "This girl has a crazy imagination."

The actor said, "Its like a ferrari, you touch that special spot and zoooooom!"

Josh had mentioned that for his Halloween party, he made a severed head out of his ex-girlfriend's face with his special effects stuff. Nice. He said, inevitably everyone made that joke.

I said, "Don't tell me you didn't think about fucking that head." He laughed.

I brought up Abe in conversation and watched Josh realize that all my flirtation was rising to the air like vapor and I wasn't actually on the table.

I keep wondering what is wrong with me, talking like that to some random guy on set. No doubt about it, I was flirting. Part of me thinks its because a) he was hot b) he ignored me c) I am very lonely when I work so much. Oh, and d) force of habit!

Abe is about a 50 minute drive away, and we talk every night but something about being touched is sorely missed. Of course I am horny, I haven't had sex in over 10 days. However, I would sacrifice a night of love making to feel the warmth of Abe's hand in mine. It eats away at you, the longing for physical contact. I am not sure Abe has the same yearnings, he has been single for so long, he just resumes his bachelor lifestyle; bong, golf, computer, drums. Dork.

I wonder, would it make a difference if Abe wasn't in my life? I would still have all those same longings, so there is no real sacrifice here. I would still be pining over Not for Profit, dating people I had luke warm feelings for, masturbating every morning to historical dramas.

I called Abe and kept reminding him how hot I am for him.

I said, "My vagina is the size of a pencil sharpener."

He said, "What does that mean?"

I said, "I guess it means I'm horny. I don't know, I just made it up."

He said, "Would you still love me if I didn't have a penis?"

I said, "Of course. Would you still love me if I didn't have a vagina, but I could cook?"

He said, "Wait, you wouldn't have a vagina or you would have a non-functioning vagina?"

I said, "Either or."

He said, "But you could cook" He laughed here, like he just got the joke.
"I don't know, this is a weird hypothetical."

I said, "But its based on your hypothetical."

He said, "Oh yeah. You're right. I guess I will just stop asking stupid questions."

So, yesterday on a Cablevision commercial, I asked Matt, "Would you still love your girlfriend if she didn't have a vagina?"

He said, "Probably not."

I said, "Would you cheat on her with someone else or just leave her?"

He said, "Probably both."

The fact is, when I started this acting thing, I promised myself I would take every opportunity offered to me. Well, I am at the point where I have to discriminate. I review scripts/sides before heading to an audition, and am laying off on the student film auditions because the professionalism is a gamble. I only submit for jobs with money, a character name and a character description that doesn't sound like a personals ad.

Now, seeing as I am booking a lot of work lately, and then taking paid jobs when ever I can, whether it be doggie daycare, valet or audience work, I am left with no time, no money and really bad brakes on my car.

I don't know how to make it work with Abe so far away. I know your relationships are supposed to go before your career, but how does that work exactly? I mean, what if you still really want a career too?

If I was patient, if he was patient, maybe we can see this busy period out in time to enjoy the holidays. The stress, lack of sleep & love is getting to me though . . .

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