Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Actor's Life: A Tale of Madness

An actors life: A Tale of Madness

I want to share the story of my morning. Today is an audition day, one which I'm partaking in mostly out of guilt, which is what a lot of them are for me. When I haven't auditioned in a while I start to panic- what am I doing with my life? I'm pushing 30... I've been in NYC for 7 years now doing this starving artist "thing". Other girls my age have husbands and real jobs with real salaries, some have multiple children. Most seem to have stability. Me? I moonlight as a karaoke hostess on weekends and struggle to keep my cat alive. The only thing that's certain in my life is my unhealthy addiction to carbs and Starbucks, which I shouldn't be wasting what little money I have on. But I am an "actress", or so my unemployment form says... This is what i came to this crazy city to do so I will force myself to go to auditions even when they are for things I KNOW aren't really casting or may not be that right for me, just so I can pat myself on the back later and say "hey good for you, you're doing what you set out to!" and then have an excuse to eat my celebratory Quiznos.
This morning started out much like the others.... I set my alarm for 7:38and off it went. I woke up with a start- "Who? What? Why? When did I get a cat? This can't be right!... Oh yea." It's been ages since I woke up before 9am so it took a minute to get focused but then I was up, putting my sneakers on (I sleep in the next days outfit when I know I have to sign up early. Don't judge, you do it too.) and brushing my teeth. With a yogurt in hand I trek bravely out into Times Square. Side note: I made the brilliant yet sometimes huge pain in the ass move to 8th ave and 43rd street a year ago. Living on the border of Times Square, above a porn shop and next to a strip club no less, has as many downs as you can imagine. But the one major perk is that on audition days, I need to stumble no more than 10 minutes to get to any audition. That makes it all worth it, if you can get past the fact that everyone thinks I'm a stripper when I exit my apartment and there's an occasional police shooting outside my door. But I digress. Here I am, hoofin it to the Actors Equity building. Past the crazies camping out outside of broadway shows hoping for rush tickets, past the people cleaning Times Square, past the Jamaican guys yelling at me about taking a bus tour. I stride into the equity building, card in hand, at 8:05- Just about an hour before "sign up", because this one is expected to get crazy. Once I hit the 16th floor and walk in, I'm greeted by the nice guy that works at Equity (you know the one), asking me if I'm here to dance. Clearly,  he's never met me. No sir I say, I'm here for Encores... And then it dawns on me that something is very not right here. I had expected to see a line snaking through the place all the way to the elevator. I had seen no such line. "Oh that's not here today.... I think... Yea it's at Pearl". Of course it is. Because we as actors have one of the easiest, no brainer jobs in existence. I barely had to take an academic to get a college degree in theatre. There are very few things expected of us simple minded creatures.... We just have to know what we're going to audition for, what we're bringing to sing, what to wear, what time to show up and WHERE TO GO. That's it. And yet as usual, that's just a little too much for poor little ol' me. It was just a matter of checking my schedule because I wrote it down but c'mon, that would've been too easy and make for a far less exciting story.
So now, your brainless heroine must frantically rush from one studio to another. Off I go back into the throngs of people in Times Square, and I'm on a mad dash to Pearl Studios, 11 blocks away. It's now 8:15, which is when I wanted to be happily settled in line. I get myself back to 8th avenue which, in the 30s, doubles as the pits of hell. Weaving in and out of people headed to work/taking pictures of buildings/looking for their next crack fix... I try and get my breath moving like that of a runner (considering I don't run unless something is chasing me, this is an impossible task). I imagine the line at Pearl getting impossibly long and I curse myself for making this mistake. Around 40th street I glance to my left and notice another young woman. Must be an actress. She's clutching an iced coffee, walking very briskly, and she's double bagging it. (Carrying two tote bags, not grocery shopping.) Yes, no doubt you are an actress and you are headed to the same place as me. I rev my engine, and we start to race. She picks up pace and is walking impossibly fast and I imagine her getting into line and some omnipotent being cutting me off right after and saying "audition closed." I quicken my pace. We are bobbing and weaving through the crowd, neck and neck with each other. My shoe comes untied. "Fuck it" I think. I can't miss this. I frantically stumble-power-walk down 8th avenue with this woman right on my heels, sheer determination powering me forward. At 36th street, just before our destination has been reached, she turns left. Clearly, not on her way to the audition. Clearly just a normal 30 something, on her way to work where she probably has unlimited breakfast options and pictures of an attractive husband taped up in her cubicle waiting for her. I shake my head. I just walked (ran) 5 blocks with my SHOE UNTIED. This is when I come to the realization- I AM BECOMING ONE OF THOSE CRAZY ACTORS. The ones that I'm usually sitting back making fun of... The girls that carry a headshot and a curling iron with them everywhere they go. Who eyeball you up and down when you enter a holding room and are hesitant to tell you where the end of the line is. These creatures that I have marveled at for years... I have just exhibited some of their manic behavior! This business is turning me slightly psychotic! I mean... I'm racing strangers in the streets with my shoes untied!! But as quickly as I come to this realization I also identify what's behind it. It's because as each day passes I feel a little more desperate. Desperate to get a job. To prove myself. To be reminded that I've got whatever it takes to make it in this business (minus dance skills, oops my bad.) It's because with every audition you show up to and find hundreds of people at who are just as eager as you, it starts to feel a little bit impossible that you will succeed over all hundreds of them. Because most of the time, you don't. And it is that hunger, that drive that breeds the desperation which turns us crazy. But I do not want to be crazy. I did a stint with that back in college and it just wasn't fun, I'm not interested. I want to keep my cool. I want to go back to remembering that there is room for everyone somewhere, some time. We can't all win simultaneously but I have had my winning moments before and God willing there will be more in the future when the timing is right. No drag races necessary. I arrive at my audition to find a small and sensible line. I take my place at the end of it, and begin to write this blog. Because I want to remind myself of that time I went a little bit batshit, and how unnecessary it was. Even if the girl in the street HAD been on her way to this audition, there was plenty of room for everyone. We would've sat next to each other and probably started up a conversation. And as it turns out, from the one person behind the table in said audition pretty much ignoring me, I was able to deduce that they definitely weren't really "looking" today. But hey- at least I showed up. Did what I was supposed to do. And that Quiznos was delicious. 

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