As an actor, I get to go to lots of (never enough) auditions. My co-workers and friends are super supportive. And they’re always asking, “How did it go? What did you do? Did they like you?” and so forth. Actually, there are no easy answers to these questions. So, I’ve decided to blog on this issue so my non-actor friends can get a brief glimpse into real Hollywood auditions and my actor friends can nod sagely in agreement.
(What is my motivation for agreeing with yon blogging wench?)
Now of course, as usual, there will be a lot of hyperbole and comedy stylings in this entry. And by the way, that word is hy-PER-bo-lee. Not HY-per-bowl. I know, it was a surprise to me, too. It means a gross exaggeration. (see Mrs. Whittenburg, I was paying attention in class). Anyway, I love, love, LOVE auditioning! Even though after this article, you may not understand why.
Answering The Call
So I’m going to focus in on commercial auditions as that is what I’ve been doing for the most part recently. I have commercial agents (Hi, Kenneth and Nelson. You rock!). They spend their days submitting me, and I’m assuming a few other people, online for commercials. When the stars align and all their hard work and pagan sacrifices come to fruition, I will get a happy text. It says, “SMS Casting-You have an audition! Check your email for details.” Kaloo-Kalay! I will shove paperwork, old ladies and attorneys to the floor to get to that sweet, sweet e-mail. I check the email and it will tell me where, when and what I will be auditioning for tomorrow. I have people asking me, “Do you have any auditions coming up?” I have honestly never gotten more than 24 hours’ notice for any audition. So the answer to that question (unless you catch me between 4pm and 7pm the day before said audition) is no. Now, after the text comes in and I confirm with the agents and rain blessings upon their heads, I have to head home to decide what to wear.
(Does this say, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter?”)
So since I decided I just had to have straight hair for my headshots, I go home to smash my curls into flat oblivion so I match the pictures my agent sent in for this audition. After printing directions to the casting office farthest from my work place, picking the yellow polo that makes me look like suburban mom instead of the blue polo that makes me look like I work at Wal-Mart, picking the earrings that make me look the least pretentious and most trustworthy, emailing my boss to tell him I’ll be late tomorrow, praying and offering any other listening gods my sister’s first born, I go to bed early to rest up for my chance. Sometimes though, I’ll get a call for a super cool audition that says “Chef attire” or “Victorian attire-hats are a must”. I really like getting to take that stuff to work for a middle of the day audition. It’s easy enough to run to Michael’s and get a chef’s hat and apron or something. But finding that Victorian attire about killed me and my mom both. Who keeps Victorian clothes around? My mom’s old but I’m pretty sure she was born post-Victoria. I think…But necessity and passion for my art is the mother of invention, so my mom literally pulled the kitchen curtains down, a la Scarlett O’Hara, and made me a for true Victorian outfit. That’s some sweet ass dedication there, people.
So as I noted earlier, it is, by law, a guarantee that any audition I have be not less than 45 minutes from wherever I am an hour before said audition. So I fight Los Angeles traffic and hopefully find parking within a half mile of the casting studio, I am ready to go. After I show up hot, sweaty and out of breath from fighting the Crips on the corner for my bag (my headshots are in there, bee-yotch!), I sign in and wait for my turn. After checking my Facebook, Perez Hilton, e-mail and playing 6 games of Vegas Pool Sharks on my phone, it’s my turn! The casting director will point the camera at me and ask me to “slate your name”. Now, when this first happened, I thought there must be some chalkboard or clapper thing that I forgot to get at acting school. Turns out “slate your name” means “say your name.” Ohhhh, I can totally do that!
(Hi, my name is…uhhh, what’s my line again?)
Anyway, after the formalities are over, I will have one of four types of audition.
Casting Director: Tell me something interesting about yourself.
Me: I have webbed feet.
Casting Director: Heyyyy, that’s great. Walk to the left. Your left. No, not toward me. To the left. No, your left. LEFT!
Me: How was that?
Casting Director: Great! Thanks so much. Have a great day.
<End of audition>
Casting Director: Read the lines on the board.
Me: You Can Energy Drink gives me energy every hour of every day!
Casting Director: Try British.
Me: You Can Energy Drink gives me energy every hour of every day, guv’nor!
Casting Director: Great! Try it New Jersey.
Me: Yo! You Can Energy Drink gives me energy every hour of every day! (fist pump)
Casting Director: Perfect! Do Southern.
Me: You Can Energy Drink gives me energy every hour of every day, y’all!
Casting Director: You are so versatile! Thanks so much.
<End of audition>
Casting Director: You are in Antarctica. You are cold. Freezing. You pee on yourself to stay warm but it only lasts a moment. You’re remembering your life before the cold. Your family and friends and pet rabbits. Oh, so many rabbits. And you are leaving them all. Leaving them…
Me: What am I auditioning for again?
Casting Director: Harry’s Extra Sharp Toe Nail Clippers.
Me: Ah, yes…you were saying?
<End of audition>
The free reign, improv whatever you want, balls to the wall, all out fun acting audition. They give you a very brief scenario and say “go!” This is when I shine, y’all. And actually the kind of audition I just booked my last job with last week. Because no one can “act” like a lazy employee nearly as good as me!
The Call Back
Now, after all the fun above is over, I wait for the next call. This is the call back. This is what separates the men from the boys. My agents say call backs are special and not to get upset if I don’t get one every time. Most actors get a call back for about one out of every 7-10 auditions. Personally, I get a call back about every 2 out of 3 auditions. I’m not saying that because I’m super great or anything (you can say that in the comments below) but just because that’s how it works out for me. When I go to the call backs, I do basically the same thing I did the first time, except now the actual director of the commercial is there along with some guys from the ad agency. You can tell which one is the director because he’s the one who actually looks at you and not his laptop or the food table to the far right (my right. no, right. well, it’s their left which is my…never mind). I always do the same thing (to start) in a call back that I did in the first audition. They called me back because they liked what I did before and I don’t want them to be all confused (“Hey. Where’s the girl with the webbed feet?”). Then, the director will give a few directions just to see if I can do what he says. Now, since I grew up with a military dad, if there’s one thing I can do well, it’s follow directions.
(You are an actor! You are in Antarctica! You will pee on your leg! You will sell toe nail clippers!
You will like it!)
I usually get a lot of calls for “real” people. Which I assume is opposed to imaginary people. I like those auditions. I don’t think I could really do well if I had to audition as imaginary. So they tend to spend call backs trying to match “real” me up with some other “real” people so we can make a “real” family that enjoys eating “real” wasabi peas or something. That’s always weird. Do I look like this kid? If not, can I fake it? Can I pretend I’ve been married to this loser picking his nose and trying to pretend he’s not wiping it on the chair? Well, I did it before in real life and I didn’t even get paid for it then, so…..let’s do it! And therefore, I work my call back like my ass is for sale and the rent is due tonight.
Booking…or Not Yet
Now, I play the waiting game. Like that movie The Crying Game but with less surprise penises. After all of this is said and done, there is a 3-7 day waiting period to see if I booked the job. If I book the job. HOORAY! These days are too few and too far in between because I should totally get every part I try out for, right?…<crickets>…Anyway they are the very happiest of days. Actually booking a job is a totally different blog, though. There’s a lot of rejection to deal with in this business. I know if I don’t get cast, it’s not because I’m not the awesomest. Cuz I am the awesomest. My mom, my sister and dog told me so. Thankfully, my mind does not accept rejection and if I don’t get a commercial I will make up one of the following excuses:
No. 1: The person who wanted to cast me (director/ad agency/client) has died. This is very sad. I hate it when this happens. This wonderful, creative being has left our world. His dying wish was that I would represent the product on screen but since he is now gone, the commercial and the role that the deceased wanted just for me is gone forever. Never to be seen again. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
No. 2: I see the ad I auditioned for on t.v. but the people in the commercial are not me. Hmpf! Now, how in the hell did that happen? I have to think of something else to ease my poor bruised ego. I know I was the cutest, smartest thing in shoe leather to cross the threshold into that room. So then I tell myself the person who wanted to cast me (director/ad agency/client) has had their cat kidnapped by communists. Yep. Even though he pleaded, “Please! No one will be able to sell Harry’s Extra Sharp Toe Nail Clippers like Christa Woomer! In the name of democracy and capitalism and justice, can’t I please cast the most talented commercial actress I’ve seen this millennium?” The communists laugh deep in their chests and say, “Niet! Not if you value your cat.” So, they made the commercial without me. How can I be mad? Come on, it’s me or the poor guy’s cat!
(Cats back for everyone!*)
When people ask me, “Do you think they liked you?” My answer is always, “Of course, they liked me!” We are talking about likeable, loveable, huggable me, here. And as you can see, auditioning in Hollywood is lots of fun, glamour, fame and excitement. I love being an actor so much. Each step of this process makes me smile. I wish I had more auditions and more fun every day. I thank God for making me strong enough to follow my dreams and move to L.A. Every time my phone beeps in the late afternoon, I know that rumble in my tummy is happiness and not just the Del Taco #4 combo I had for lunch. I can’t wait for the next adventure.
(“Follow your dream. You can be an actor if you really want to. Just make sure you can type or something to support yourself.”
Nikki Burgett-my high school drama teacher.)
Note #1: I never auditioned for this role and have nothing but love for Flo.
Note #2: I don’t really have webbed feet.
Note #3: I started this blog last night and now I’m ready to post with a brand new audition waiting for me tomorrow. WOOT!