So basically, I'm decent at the arts and writing and things, and I'm decent at logic and analyzing things. I'm a Jack of all Brains!
How does that work in my acting life?
Well, when I have an audition for something I want, I am pretty good at analyzing the shit out of it, detailing every phrase, every direction, every technical acting form, in somewhat, sometimes, exhausting detail.
BUT. Doing this also helps me let it go.
Now, some commercial auditions I go to, I do it, I think, okay, yeah, and let it go. I'll get callbacks, I might book, no biggie.
But when I have a commercial audition for something I Really, Really, Freakin Want, I will go over every detail (sometimes four, five pages in my journal).
Let me talk to you about the Commercial Campaign that is So Right For Me It's Ridiculous. Maybe, if I share what happened with you guys, I can begin to let it go, piece by piece, until I'm proud of what I did cause I was so Lira I was Liralicious.
I had an audition notification the previous Friday for a National Brand spokeswoman. There was copy attached and I laughed out loud. It was funny! Most of the times, copy isn't really all that funny and the actress has to make it so (I mean, Flo in those Progressive ads, I don't know she does it. I think those commercial scripts are so awful, but somehow she makes it work. Good on her.) but this commercial copy was just so....Lira.
And I'm a Lira!
The more I thought about the lines as I was memorizing them, the more I had an idea in my head about who this character/spokeseperson was. I knew who she was, and she was someone the directors and producers might not know they wanted until I showed up with her. She was bubbly and fun, and even though her lines might seem a little sarcastic, I could still make her sweet and endearing.
For the first audition, I went in, did my thing, and knew I was going to get a callback because even if they didn't like the character I created, I still had very good on camera technicals. I was cheated out, used my environment, and they could always bring me back in to redirect me.
I got the callback.
Went to it. Still in my fun character. I loved her! It was Lira to the nth degree! I was just playing a funner, girlier version of myself.
When I was on deck, I was able to hear the audition of the girl before me. She did the copy, was redirected, and as I listened to her read the copy and still sound like she was reading the copy, I knew I didn't have to worry about her. (Being an elevated character of myself, I was still analyzing and critiquing everything!) The girl exits, and it's my turn.
I do the copy as my character, and am then redirected to make her a little less Liralicious, and to slow it down and make it more conversational. My character was very ad-word friendly, punching up the product details with just the right amount of "sell." If they wanted less of that, to have me more like I was having a conversation with my best friend, I can do that. I did.
"Would you like to do some improv?"
It is illegal to ask an actor to improv at a Sag commercial audition. Yes, it puts the actor on the spot, asking them to improvise dialogue/scenes about a product they could potentially know nothing about, making for a very unfair audition, but the real reason why it's illegal is because anything the actor comes up with while improvising could be used in the commercial and the actor, who might not end up being cast in it, now has their INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY being used in the commercial and isn't being compensated for it. They now wrote part of the commercial and it's really hard to prove that they came up with it because the audition tapes might "somehow" be destroyed. There's no legal leg to stand on. So Sag prohibits this.
This spokesperson will be featured in print, internet, television, and possible In Store Promotions (ooh! How fun would That be!?). Who ever books this spokesperson spot would be required to be in character at these In Store Promotions. So they have to know how to improvise in character and be product savvy all at the same time. And be funny, and be likable.
This is a non-union gig, so it is okay for them to ask me if I'd like to improvise. And of course I say Sure! with all the enthusiasm I can muster. But I'm thinking, Improvise? About the character and product, with very little knowledge about it? Are you sure you don't want me to step outside so I can Google this stuff and get some knowledge or funny trivia bits or Oh My God Please I Suck At Improv When I Don't Know What It Is You Want Me to Say Cause I Get In My Head About Whether Or Not This Is What You Wanted!!
They give me a scene idea to improv and I stuck in two things I knew about that particular type of thing they're selling and finished.
Being the overanalytical girl I am, there's really only one word to describe how I felt I did at that part: meh.
BUT, the fact of the matter is I was Liralicious as the character, I was Lira in the room, and I had come in there from the get go with a character I knew they didn't know they wanted until I showed her to them. I made a bold choice. And in the acting world, isn't it drilled into our heads how far you can go if you at least make one freakin bold choice?
Before I had my callback, as I was signing in, I asked the session runner if he knew when they would be picking their actress because the shoot day was listed as "TBD: August or January 2012" Usually, the production dates are set in stone; the crews are all loaded up and hired, and the locations are locked in. It's usually no later than a week or two after the auditions.
"They'll be picking tonight!" he said. Really? "Yeah, they only called back 20 people."
I LIKE DEM ODDS!
I went home, analyzed, journaled five pages like a crazyhead and kept reminding myself these very important things:
I did the best I could with what I was given, and I was incredibly proud of what I did. I gave them an OPTION they didn't know they had until I walked into that audition. I am an Option! And if I'm not what they wanted, at least I stretched myself as an actress and felt confident about the work I did.
Knowing the creative team was probably picking their girl that night and getting it approved by the product company that morning, I knew that if I was chosen, I could expect a phone call by 12noon at the latest.
No call came.
And I was bummed out about it because I loved what I did, and at about 3pm I was finally able to start being at peace with it. By rationalizing! I figured I must have been one of their top 5 choices because I was different, I had great technicals, and I was able to make them laugh in the room using the copy they've heard hundreds of times already. That's a feat to be proud of.
3:30 and my agency calls. "Are you available to audition again for a second callback?"
Second callbacks are rare. Extremely, extremely rare. It's Friday afternoon, a time when most Struggling Actresses are counting down the hour and a half they have before they have to put on their work shoes and apron and head into work for an 8 hour shift.
I was not scheduled to work a shift that night. I was available. YES, I can go to a second callback!
I jet over there for my 5:30 slot, and oddly enough, thanks to Carmageddon, I got to Culver City from the valley in like, 20 minutes!
I'm led in straight from the building entrance where one of the producers happened to be and he led me straight into the room. I expected there to be at least four other girls. Right now, there's just me. And I'm able to glean from someone else on the phone that they only have one other girl coming in.
My bold choice worked! They DID want what I gave them, and I was the only one giving them that!
I said I had a question and went on that when I had come in for the audition, I had a specific character in mind and did they want more of that today or less?
"We absolutely loved what you did, and that's why you're here now. We just wanted to see if you could do it a few other ways and see your range."
I was given new copy for two other spots they're doing and unfortunately, they printed out the story boards so that they type was extremely small. Like this:
|via Now, obviously this isn't the copy, cause I could be sued, but also, this is in |
There were no boards with the copy written in big print next to the camera so that I could have my head up the whole time. I would have to hold the small copy in my hand and read the small type as I auditioned. What's this? DAUNTING!
I asked for a few minutes to go work on these outside the room. When I step out, I see the other girl arriving. I nod and smile to her. She is given sides as well. After about five minutes, I am asked if I'm ready.
This is where I probably should have asked for five more minutes. Just to get the lines down. Even though they said they weren't looking for me to be word perfect, and they didn't expect it, I still wish I could go back in time and ask for just a little more time.
But I go in.
I do it. Am redirected. Am redirected again. Am redirected again. Go to the next commercial spot. Am redirected, redirected again, redirected once more.
"Okay, now we'd like you to improvise again."
But this time, weirdly enough, I was excited about that. Really excited. They interviewed me about the product and the character. Yes, I knew very little about the product, but I knew a lot about my character; she was charming, bubbly, and someone you would want to buy this product from. I didn't have to sell the product here, per se, because I was selling myself. Do these people want to work with me for a few months? Did I show any type of diva behavior? Could I maintain the integrity of the character/spokesperson and be someone people watching tv would want to buy products from? Could I represent this company in the best light for at least a year? Maybe more?
I improvised well. I made them laugh. I was, dare I say it, charming and winsome and knowledgeable and someone you would want to be friends with. I was exactly who they needed me to be.
I am now done with the audition and they ask me a few questions. I had my hair pinned back in a fake bun like thing for all three auditions and they asked if they could see what it looked like down. Then they recorded me with my hair down so they could see how I looked on camera. Because I had straightened by bangs (cause straight hair is always so much more sophisticated than curly, am I right? sigh.) I pointed them out and said if the curly was too much, my hair can always be straightened.
They asked me if I was opposed to dying my hair. "Not at all! I mean, I know I have to say you need to talk to my agent, so please, talk to my agent, but I have no problem with that at all!" Wouldn't that be fun? I wonder what color.... Could you imagine me as a blond!? FUN!
They then thanked me. And by thanking me, I mean they each got up and shook my hand, thanking me for coming back in on such short notice.
I thanked them and exited the room.
As I grab my things and wish the other girl good luck, she says, "You killed it in there!" "They're really so nice!" I replied, and then I whispered to her, EVEN THOUGH WE WERE THE ONLY TWO PEOPLE IN THAT ENTIRE CASTING FACILITY'S LOBBY, "hey, I hope I don't freak you out, but we have really good odds; I think we're the only ones called back for this!" "Really? That's so awesome!" "I know! Top two feels pretty dope, huh?" We say a few more words and then they call her in and I wish her luck again.
Are you tired of reading this? Cause I'm not done.
I got to my car, and felt a zen calm. I did the best I could. I was the best me I could be. I had an idea of what this campaign needed from me and gave it to them.
Then I thought about the other girl.
She had fifteen minutes with the copy. I had five. She is going to be memorized. She is going to have better on-camera technicals because of it. If they go back to the tapes, she will seem more put together and polished and I will seem a bit greener.
Like I keep saying, I gave them something they didn't even know they wanted. And they couldn't decide between the straight version that this other girl brought to the table, or the charactery one I had cooked up. And they brought me in to make sure I could do it without the character if they needed me to.
I did the best me I could do.
And now business wise, here's what I imagine is going to happen on Monday.
I will get the call from my agent that I am on avail. But the other girl will also get the same call from her agent. There's only TWO of us!
I just hope with all my heart that I'll know within a very short time frame whether I will book or be released.
And I also hope that now, with possibly one of the longest blog posts ever (and thanks for reading if you've made it here!), I can begin to let this go.
I had an idea for this character, I made my bold choice, I was the best Lira I could be and I'm proud of my work. Those are all things I should be very happy about.
Be Zen, Lira, be Zen. You did great.