I watched the people, just regular folks, around me. I’ve said that actors are such tender creatures, but we all are, really. I’ve said that it’s amazing that society gets along as well as does, given the messed-up food, television, and pharmaceuticals we’re served. It makes us lash out at each other sometimes—and it’s amazing there’s not more lashing out.
Wait, what was that? I heard you. Weren’t you thinking something along the lines of hey, she auditions for roles on TV. That makes her part of that garbage. Well, I hope not. There are good shows and there’s rot. There are even good commercials and there’s rot. Didn’t you love it when the Clydesdales helped bring that adorable puppy home to that equally adorable (and very hunky) guy? And how many issues does a show like Grey’s Anatomy, for just one example, address? In addition to myriad illnesses, death, and grief, it covers domestic violence, gender dysphoria, drug addiction and recovery— the list could go on all day and night.
Back to these regular folks…they could just float about doing their thing. At the moment, their thing was keeping busy on their phones or laptops while they were waiting for the way-too-perky sweet young thing (give that woman a Valium!) to alert them that their car was ready. They weren’t on their guard. They weren’t looking down to keep from being recognized….or at least puzzled over with quizzical looks.
One time I saw a very famous—but who shall remain nameless—actor in a restaurant. Some elderly woman just plopped down next to her in the booth. The actor looked like she wanted to leap through the wall, and the other person with her was of no help whatsoever. The oldie proceeded to yak and yak like they were old chums. To her, they were—old chums, that is. We’ve all been watching this woman on the big screen for decades and decades. We’ve watched the lines form on her face. We recognize almost every nuance in her voice. We feel like we do know her.
It never crossed my mind—until it did—that if/when I “made it,” that would probably happen to me, too. And I’d probably like it even less and freak out even more than that famous actor did.
But, speaking as one of those faces on the screen, people know us as our characters, not who we are. They feel a sense of familiarity with us and even an entitlement to us, since they’ve seen us so many times.
Ugh. Some guy was giving me the look. You know the one—the good old I-know-I’ve-seen-you-somewhere-and-I’m-going-to-stare-at-you-until-I-remember look. Hmm, the cell phone is the best of inventions for such times; I stopped looking around and stared at my phone. How did I not hear this text from Cara come in? I have a special alert for her, but I somehow missed it. She had another audition for me…yikes, with the fussiest casting director in town. She’s not the only fussy one—just the fussiest. Casting directors can have no filters: “You’re too thin/too fat/too old/too young/too beautiful/not beautiful enough.”
Maybe that’s why actor friends feel like they can say anything, too—because they hear it from the CDs so often. “You slouch too much.” “You don’t shine enough.” “You gripe too much.” “You don’t think ahead enough.” “You worry too much.” Oh, mind your own struggle!
Actually, no one says anything to me about worrying anymore. (Wow.)
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