"Our woman is aged 35 - 40, she is attractive but interesting looking with a nice smile." This is the latest casting breakdown I received from my agent this morning. It's for a TV commercial for an insurance company. This is all fantastic feel-good news: my agent thinks they (I know it should say he or she but there's two of them) can sell me as attractive, and it's for TV insurance advertising which means good money if I can get it!
I called my agent back to confirm I'd be attending the audition. I appreciate that they give me the illusion that I have a choice, that there are so many acting jobs out there that I might actually be minded to say, you know what, I'm not sure about this one, I think I'll pass on it...
"Oh hello, do you still have your really short hair?" "(Pause) Yes." What I really wanted to say was "Well no actually, I thought just for a lark I'd grow it down to my buttocks in dreads and not tell anybody!" But the thing is, my agent, they're kind of busy, so I kept it to myself and thought I'll put it in my blog instead - where at least irony stands a chance of being appreciated.
"Oh good! I just thought I should check because you see the casting director asked specifically about your short hair... she says with short hair it'll be easier to put a bald cap on it." Maybe, 5 years ago, when I embarked on this acting journey, I would have blanched or inhaled deeply, or even cried. But 5 years on? "Well, I don't care what they want me to do as long as they pay me good money." "Oh good girl." (It sounds patronising but I was talking to Belinda who is like the world's Mother and totally unflappable and coming from her it's not patronising. So please don't feel offended on my behalf.)
Here's the thing that you have to come to terms with as a jobbing actor (as opposed to a high profile actor who is specifically requested for roles, as a way of "selling" the project to producers), actually it's a list of things, and if you can't get your head around it, then you should go and do a normal respectable job that isn't over subscribed. Like accounting.
1. Everyone in the business hates actors (especially if they are ex-actors themselves.)
2. Art can on occasion get you noticed and open some doors, but not always.
3. Art as a rule will cost YOU money and not earn you ANY.
4. There is nothing wrong with earning a little bit of money to pay bills and you know, do stuff, like eat.
5. There would be no day time TV for duvet days if everyone refused to do commercials.
6. Attending auditions is good practice (for the big one)
7. Any sort of acting is good practice (for the role of a lifetime)
8. Going to auditions keeps your agent happy (even if you don't get the job)
9. Many of today's big stars started off doing commercials
10. Many of today's top directors started off shooting commercials.
So I am going to attend that audition looking attractive but interesting (as opposed to?) and deliver whatever they want from me with gusto and enthusiasm. Because this is the path I have chosen. And even if I have to remind myself sometimes, the fact is that I really do love it, even after 5 years, even if I'm not a household name YET. (Notice the pig headed blind optimism? If you don't got it don't even try it...)