I guess I should start at the beginning.
Prior to arriving, Peter, the agent, told me that someone in my position would benefit greatly from a manager who knew what they were doing. "Well, if you know any, I'm certainly open to meeting them."
I get a call from him two hours later. "Would you mind coming in an hour earlier at 3:30? I've got my buddy Bruce, who's a manager for some of my clients coming in to meet the team. I'd like you to be there when he's here."
Normally, if you can't find an agent, you try and get a manager who might be able to convince one of the agents they work with to see you and take you on. NOT the other way around! I'm wowed by this. For an agent to set that up speaks volumes. I confirm the new time.
It's now meeting day and parking is atrocious in this part of Beverly Hills. Luckily, I found a 3 hour metered parking spot a good block away. I figured I would be there for about an hour but thought, well, whatever. I put in 2 hours and 45 minutes worth of time so I wouldn't have to sweat while constantly visualizing a parking ticket under my wiper, paid with money I don't have. Plus, it always sucks to have to leave a great meeting with "I gotta go feed my meter." It's lamesville.
I walk into the Beverly Hills lobby and make small talk with a few gentlemen. The agents are in meetings and we wait a few minutes. The guy they're interviewing pops into the lobby for a second, and the guy I've been talking to recognizes him, bounces up, and starts shaking his hand, calling him an amazing actor, one he's idolized for years. I notice he doesn't let go of the guy's hand. The guy thanks him and wishes us well. The other guy looks at me, and says, "Can you believe it?!" I smile and reply, "You got a little star struck there." "He's one of my favorite actors. Oscar nominated! Well, you know it's a good agency if he's meeting with them!"
I wish I knew who that guy was. Dang.
Peter pops into the waiting room, apologizes for the four minutes I've been waiting, and brings me into a backroom. He sits me down and asks if I have any questions. I kinda don't. I mean, this guy is just so nice, with a great resume and work history to boot, with clients I could list who you would know. This is the first agency I've ever been with, with famous people.
"Well, I guess.....where do you see my career going?" Cause heck, I sure don't have a clue. The only career I've known has been that of 'get excited about an agent and then don't have auditions for a year.'
"We're pretty much going to submit you for everything we think you're right for. You could be the new girl in The Hangover 2 or you could be the new girl on The Office."
I like that. Then he looks me in the eye and says,
"I am extremely lucky to have you."
I've never heard an agent say that to me. Ever. They usually make you feel that you are lucky to have them.
Another gentleman comes into the room. "Is this Lira?" he asks Peter. "Yes! Lira, this is Bruce."
Bruce shakes my hand. "He called me after he met you and said, 'I just met the most adorable girl, and I think you're going to love her too.' I'm very excited to meet you."
At this point, they could have both said, "Our agency costs $300/month for developmental clients such as yourself until you book something. Then our fee goes down to $250," and I would have gladly opened my purse and paid. And trust me, although I was pleased as punch to be there, I was also on Bullshit Alert. But it didn't go off. They were an agent and manager in Beverly Hills being GENUINELY pleased and happy that I was there.
Peter excuses himself to get back to the conference room and leaves me and Bruce to chat. I show him my hardcopy headshots, (he likes a few), my new Tanya photos (he LOVES them), and we talk a bit, making conversation about the Bay Area, marriage, small talk stuff.
I should mention that I'm extremely comfortable and completely myself. Possibly even charming. A new agent pops into the room. Her name is Ali. She likes my headshots. She too LOVES my Tanya photos. Bruce and Ali go over my resume. "I don't recognize more than half your credits." I nod. I know. All indies or recreated events shows. "Would you like to see my reels?" Of course they do. We go into Ali's office. They love my comedic reel. They like my seriocomedic reel. They like my demo and offer a few suggestions on how to streamline it. "No one watches past the first 15 seconds," they say. [See?! Start your reels off with your acting straight away! No montages or title cards!!]
They like my stuff. They just want to take off the first two small clips and lead in with the acting stuff. Finally, we all go to the conference room.
Bruce, Peter, Ali, and another agent are all sitting around me. They ask me what type of roles I want to do.
Um. Whatever I can get! I mention that I've done background for Days of Our Lives and that I really want to come back on that show with lines.
"No more background work." What? "No more background, stand-in, photo doubling, none of that. And we're not going to send you out for anything under 5 lines."
"But...my resume -" I mean, for a struggling actress I've got a lot of stuff on there. For a "Hollywood Actress" there's nothing really there.
"We only represent top tier talent. We've build our reputation on that. We've only existed for three short years and we've gained the reputation that we have based on our talent. We are not going to submit our talent for small roles. It's a waste of everyone's time." I stare at the people before me. Peter nods his head. "You're here in this room because of your talent. No more small stuff for you."
At this point I slowly extricate myself from my own body and float above it. They are still talking. About how talented I am. About how I'm worthy of being there. I interrupt because I'm smiling but my eyes are watering. "I just want to say- real quickly - that I have always dreamed of sitting at a big conference table, hearing people say these things to me. I just never thought -" Don't you FUCKING CRY you big PUSSY! KEEP IT TOGETHER! "that it would actually happen. And I'm a little overwhelmed, but super excited."
Peter looks at me. "We are incredibly lucky to have you." Again with that.
Now, he could say that to everyone he takes on, but if he does, I guarantee you he means it from the bottom of his heart every time.
I did not cry. But here I am, Cinderella, at this huge ball, and a little terrified that maybe they think I'm this beautiful princess when really, I'm just a house maid who plays with rats.
I listen to them, still hardly believing that this agency even took the first meeting with me, and marveled at how it all started because first and foremost, I believed in myself. And second, others believe in me.
I had this thought about two months ago after the first agency submission produced nothing, and I thought; what if my goal to be an actress is never fully realized - that instead, my role in the universe is to inspire other people to follow their dreams? And I liked that, but only sort of. Because I HAVE had people email me that I'm inspiring them, that they're so thankful that I'm writing and trying to help others starting out, and I am so touched and thankful that they took the time out to tell me that, but the big question is this: how can someone inspire others to chase their dreams when she never fully realizes her own?
I called this The Struggling Actress with every intention of the title being ironic. That eventually I can be that Actress who connects with her fans because we've all been inspired by someone like that, and I want to give back. The goal has always been to be a successful actor.
I've had this idea in my head for the last 10 years that life doesn't start until 2012 for me. (This was before I was aware that 2012 is a big doomsday for people, but seriously, Y2K anyone?) I have had this idea for a decade that my life doesn't "start" until Aug 2012.
Do you remember when I wrote about how I was going to go on a FREE trip to Israel but heard a voice, or rather, just understood that I was not supposed to go? I feel like that's what the whole Aug 2012 thing is too. It's something I understand is just supposed to be. And I had a thought, while wallowing in my "am I always going to be struggling?" melancholy, "Holy shit. What if I NEVER become that actress I always thought I was going to be? What if I NEVER make it? What if, in 2012, NOTHING HAPPENS?" Is 2012 when I give up?
But....But....I can't DO anything else! I don't want to!
So I said, shut up. Stop it. Think. Who's on your side? Who can help? Find your cheerleaders. I talked to my guy. I talked to Phoenix. I talked to Glow. I talked to my acting coach. And not one of them said, "yeah. seriously. pipe dream. thank god you realized it now!" No one said that. [Here's an I-love-my-Dad-tangent : one time, I called him crying cause I was freaking out about all the money I spent on "my stupid headshots!" "Hey!" he said angrily, "Do not call those stupid! Those are an investment!!"]
So after my pep rally, I said, okay. Try again.
I told the agents at the table my Aug 2012 thing. That I had this feeling I can't explain about my life starting in 2012. Ali said, "Maybe that's when you book your series regular."
I was in that manager/agent meeting for three hours. They HUGGED me when I left. The manager wants to rep me, the agents are excited about me, and I am so incredibly humbled.
I mean, I really feel like David after the Dentist: Seriously - Is this real life?
I'm booked out Aug 28-Sept 7, so I'm hoping that I might get my first audition in late September.
But yesterday, I got a notification.
I got my first theatrical audition in less than 24 hours after signing my contract. They couldn't even submit me until yesterday afternoon. (And I should remind you: my hair is STILL curly!)
If you want to live the life you have always wanted, you can't just envision it. You have to tell your friends and rally them to push and nag and love you so that you are following them even when you are tired, even when you are overwhelmed, even when you think you know what? Maybe I should stop, because you WILL follow your dreams and you WILL fulfill them if you surround yourself with people who believe and know you can.
If I, the Struggling Actress, can keep pushing and going and pushing and going, you can too.
So here is what I know right now: I am being surrounded by people who believe in me. And I'm scared as hell.
I'm Scared! What if they're wrong!? What if I'm not all that?
...how can I find ways to self-sabotage?
BUT: here's what I also know: I've had the 2012 feeling for the last ten years, and now, NOW, I have the major pieces in play that I always knew I had to have in order for my feeling to possibly become a reality.
My new agency had cc'd my new manager my audition. (I had confirmed to all of them that I was going to be at my appointment, and "Wow! That was fast!") and the manager called me. (I should also mention that the role I'm going out for is a character with 8 lines on a network comedy - a HUGE deal and triumph for me!)
"I already talked to Peter. You are never going to be going out for a role this small ever again."
I am beside myself. 8 lines is 8 freakin lines! The character is in a whole scene! With famous lead actors! And my manager says the role is beneath me.
Me. The Struggling Actress.
IS THIS REAL LIFE?
And, I'm still trying to process that, yes. Yes! This is Real Life!
I feel the love, the power of other people believing in me, and still cannot take it in without my eyes watering. This is the beginning of the beginning. This isn't a new chapter; it's a new book!
I am in awe.