Wait A Second, You’re an Actor?

For the past few days, I’ve been helping out a friend who is casting a webseries for a major studio network.

Before I tell you my curmudeongly observations, I must first offer you semi-satiating disclosure. At one point in my life, I would have given my left arm to be in that casting room, reading for a major casting director, pinning my hopes on this potential life-changing role. Yes, I am in actress. Always will be, actually. However, there was a point in time when professional acting was the only thing I was pursuing. During my time entrenched in study, posing for headshots and auditioning, I snagged a few lines on a few cable shows and embarrassed myself thoroughly in a few terrible student films.

One of the things I didn’t get to do, however, was go on a network audition. So, when my friend called and asked me if I wanted to run camera for his auditions, I said, “YES YES YES!” without even batting an eye.

Day one arrived and I was as giddy as can be. The veil of the illusive “network audition” was finally going to lift. I would finally come face-to-face with the thing many actors simultaneously strive for and fear.

And man, was it a HUGE disappointment.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I finally walked into that room, because after all, I’ve been working in entertainment for five years. There’s not much that astounds me any more. However, for some reason, I was prepared to be impressed by the great talent walking through those doors.

Sure, this is a webseries, but every actor that read for us has decent representation — something beginning actors would kill for. And virtually every resume I glanced over was filled with a dozen or so guest star spots on major network sitcoms, a full-length feature here or there, and oodles of study. These were what the rest of this world would consider accomplished, professional actors.

Yet, out of these 50 some-odd people that came to read, only a handful carried themselves as professional actors. It wasn’t even a question of “are they right for the part?” “Do they have a good look?” “Will the network accept their lack of credits in features?” No, it was the fact that so many came in with no developed character, no passion, and no connection to the work. Even more demonstrated to us that they were not very familiar with the papers in front of them. You know, the simple tasks we were asking them to perform — the reason they’d get hired.

This flabbergasted me.

After seeing a few, my friend, we’ll call him Michael, pointed out what I had been fuming over. “Isn’t it sad how few people come with their A-game to an audition?”

Good crickets, Michael, yes it is. After all, these roles could get these aspiring stars in front of a lot of high-powered executives who are making big decisions at a major network. If nothing else, having the opportunity to read for Michael, who is about to start casting a network show, is golden.

Yet, here they were, these “actors”, half-assing their way through a reading, and blowing a great opportunity.

These are people who moved out to LA to become actors. People who have sacrificed everything for the sake of ego and art. People who are pursuing their “dreams”. These people are lauded, traditionally, for their passion and drive. Those sitting in cubicles envy their artistic expression and chutzpah.

I’m here to tell you what I saw was a bit of a farce, an “act” even.

Enough soapboxing, Allison. What’s the lesson? What’s the point?

For me, it’s the knowledge that in every industry, in every single waking moment, there is always an opportunity. Your choice to seize it with everything you have is truly, only yours. There aren’t that many golden tickets handed out. Even the successful working actors of the world still need to show up, be present, be prepared and bring their A-game. Insert every other motivational quote you’ve ever read about “showing up” and “seizing the day.” Watch the “Carpe Diem” scene from Dead Poet’s Society.

Anything.

Just, please figure out what fuels you, and then when someone gives you the opportunity to actually do what you’re dreaming of, please, for all of humanity, seize the damn moment.

Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage…” and I’m encouraging you to out there and act your ever-loving pants off.

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