Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I Met With A Casting Director

I went on an audition recently for a small TV show that is being filmed in Chicago. It was a very small role and I had been recommended to the casting director by a fellow community theater actor. I had no delusions of being discovered or becoming famous due to this, but, work is work, so I spent a few days getting some headshots together along with a sizzle reel before meeting with this lady. I did my audition and sat down with her to get her thoughts.

"You're good", she said. "You're even a natural. You say you've had no formal training?"

"None", I answered. "Aside from having been cast as a tree in 'You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown' in first grade and being constantly ordered to stand still".

"I can tell that you're undisciplined, and that's the problem. Had you ever considered acting classes?". The casting director went on about honing my skills and offered to refer me to an acting coach who charges a reasonable fee. I instantly suspected that I was being directed to this acting coach so that the casting director would get a kickback for referring me. Or maybe I'm just an overly-suspicious bastard.

"That just isn't for me. I like acting, and I'm dedicated, but I'm not going to shell out money so that someone can tell me not to put my hands on my hips or shoot rubber bands at me every time I step off my mark".

"Do you like breakfast?", she asked.

"Of course", I said.

"So, you like bacon, eggs, sausage, those sort of things. You get up in the morning, and if the mood strikes you, you eat breakfast. When you're full, you push yourself away from the table and go on with your day. So many people are looking for the quick path to fame. You say you're dedicated, but you're really just enjoy the meal. The chicken and the pig, they are the ones who are dedicated".

"The chicken and the pig have no choice. They HAVE to be part of the meal", I offered.

"Exactly", she said smugly. "A dedicated actor has no choice. It's a calling. They HAVE to act. That's dedication".

That sort of rhetorical nonsense is difficult to argue against, especially if you're trying to keep within the analogy. The best I could come up with was: "Dedication is a blind submission to fate and contains no indication of ability. The pig is dedicated, but that dedication isn't a guarantee to be delicious simply because it gave its life up for breakfast. The egg isn't guaranteed to not be rotten simply because it was called to the frying pan. I admit that I can't give you that level of dedication. But, what I can give you is devotion. I'll be enthusiastic in eating whatever is put on my plate. Given the choice, I prefer my eggs scrambled , I love eggs benedict and I hate sunny-side-up. But you can cook the eggs however you want to cook them.Use traditional or turkey bacon. Serve me sausage as links or patties. You can even include stuff I can't stomach such as tomatoes and ham. Whatever is on my plate, I will eat it as if it's the best meal I have ever had, and I will always be full".

After relating this story to some of my acting colleagues, the general agreement was that I've tanked any hope of getting "professional" work in the area. And I honestly don't care. Maybe I do lack dedication. But, on the other hand, I also am not looking for instant success or even the kind of success that comes after paying my "dues". I just want to work. But I want to work on my own terms. If that's incompatible with 99% of the available work out there, then so be it. I'll hang around and wait for when the 1% becomes available.

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