Act Natural

Had an audition today, a blog-worthy event as I don’t get too many – there’s not a lot of demand for Texan Brits. The brief sent from my agent called for actors who looked and acted like real people – specifically:

‘..talent who are rough around the edges, such as amateurish actors’

‘..we don’t want polished professional actors unless they can appear to be real.’

Of course I was the perfect choice.

Plus it’s a win-win whether I book the job or not. If I do, then I’ll actually earn some money from acting. If I don’t, it’s obviously because I’m too much of a polished pro.

It was my favourite kind of audition in that there was nothing to prepare – no script to learn and then botch at the actual reading, no time spent developing my character’s character and background story and all that twaddle that proper actors do. All I had to focus on was being an amateur. Got to the hotel where the audition was being held and signed in and handed over my headshots. Then it was the dreaded polaroid photo so they can see what you really look like without the enhancement of Photoshop. Other than casting directors and pervy husbands, who uses Polaroids anymore? There was something mildy nostalgic about getting a polaroid taken, right down to my ghostly pale complexion and bug-eyed stare. And I was grinning far too broadly. I notice that when I smile too much my mouth looks lopsided, like I’ve just been struck with bells palsy. Anyway, I then did a bit of chit-chatting with my fellow actors and snuck glances at their Polaroids, while keeping mine hidden.

They took three of us at a time into the audition room. We were offered the following choices: (1) act like either a donkey or a duck (there was one other choice that I’ve forgotten it but it wasn’t anything interesting like anteater or kangaroo). (2) walk like a supermodel. (3) disco dance. Yes, this is the wonderful world of acting. Not feeling very animally I chose to do a bit of a supermodel act-out. Thank god I watch America’s Next Top Model obsessively, it’s research-a-tainment. Then the director wanted me to do something else, so I chose dancing. She pops on a CD of Staying Alive and standing on thick carpet in a Clarion Hotel and Suites function room at 10:30am I start dancing/strutting and singing along – ‘well you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man no time to ..’

“Ok Maggie, don’t ham it up, just dance as you normally would.”

Any other song and I’d be fine, but she should understand that there’s only one way to dance to Saturday Night Fever and that’s to do your floor-clearing Travolta impression .

Feeling well on my way to humiliation she then asks if I have any other talent that would demonstrate my youthful and fun-loving side. I come up with nothing. Definitely not my stand-up about hating children and killing old people. I thought about explaining that this request would actually go against her brief that we be real and natural. Clearly I’m not youthful nor particularly fun-loving, so it would all be an actorly act. Instead, in my brain I substituted the words youthful and fun-loving for drunk and drunker and suggested a bit of karaoke singing. A few bars into ‘We are the Champions’ and I was finally feeling it, oh yes, this was the true amateurish me.

“Ok Maggie, thanks for coming in”

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