This play is killing me, financially. Don’t misunderstand, I am loving it, but between gas prices and driving to North Hollywood every day and not working at the bar as much as I need to, I’m hurtin’. So, I refuse to submit for any acting roles that pay less than $100 a day. I’m not always so strict about it. I’m down for acting in a grad film or working on any project if I love the role, but right now, it’s not possible. Definitely no more plays. At least for a little while.
My inbox is flooded with the usual 100s of casting notices I receive every day. It can get overwhelming. I go through and delete the ones I know won’t pay. Then I see a notice for theatre. I know, no more plays. But it’s called The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever. I mean, I can at least click on it.
I do. The role looks fun. The assistant director of a terrible play who takes her job seriously and has no time for people’s shit. Sounds right up my alley. Whatever, I’ll submit for it. Doesn’t hurt to audition. (And I’ve always wanted to act in a Christmas play!)
Don’t you know I get called in? Of course I do. And of course I’m excited. I am to perform a monologue for the audition. It’s actually a Craigslist post. It’s so amazing, you have to read it:
“I have approximately 200 cinder blocks for sale. They are standard 8”by 8” by 16”. They cost you about a buck seventy five if you get them someplace else. I’m asking fifty cents a block. You pick them up and you move them yourself. Please don’t waste my fucking time with endless emails. You want the blocks, come get the blocks and give me 50 cents for each block you take, how fucking hard is that? The next moron who emails me with “I’m building a blah blah blah and I was wondering if…” The answer is NO come get the blocks and build it yourself! These are plain ol’ cinder blocks for fucks sake. What is wrong with you people?? You want the blocks, come get the blocks, and don’t fuck with me.”
How fucking fun is that?? I get to work on it and a couple of my cast mates, Melissa and Marie (they’re so great), even help me with it. I get to the audition and I’m not even gonna lie. I fuckin’ nail it.
And then I get a callback! From the director, Paul. But shit, I have to work that night. And I REALLY need to work. I email Paul and tell him the situation. He actually works at the theatre where I’m having rehearsals right now so he knows I’m there all the time. He emails me back that he will “check.”
The next day, I get another email. “Lindsay, I want you to play the role of Janet. Please read the script and let me know if you are interested.” So I read the script. It’s hilarious. My character is awesome. I can’t wait.
So that’s that. So much for resolve. I’m doing another play. Ha. Sorry Mom and Dad, I won’t be making it home for Christmas this year. Love you!
***The following video is me practicing for my audition for I Want to Kill Lena Dunham…
I have an audition for a play. I very rarely submit for theater roles because I’m not really a stage person. Not to mention they’re usually unpaid. More recently I’ve been thinking that plays are great exposure and it would be really fun to get to act every weekend for a month or however long it runs. And this one caught my eye and looked fun so I submitted and got called in.
The play is called I Want to Kill Lena Dunham, and I was auditioning for the role of Hipster. An obsessed Lena Dunham fan who talks fast and confidently about things she knows nothing about. Totally fun. I spend most of the day memorizing lines and practicing over and over. It’s very dialogue heavy. And all monologue, just me talking to the audience. By the time I get to the audition, I’m feeling really good. I know my lines and I like them. It’s well written.
I meet the director as soon as I walk in – she’s only just arrived. One other girl and I are the first two waiting. The director is super sweet and talks to us about the role. “Why don’t you read for Reporter as well?” Sure, why not. Reporting is easy. I look over the sides (script) for Reporter since I’ll be reading that cold (first time reading it). Nikki, the director, calls me in first.
I walk into the tiny theater and down to the stage. It’s Nikki and one other guy. Definitely feel my nerves creeping in but in a good way. Or so I think. “Let’s have you start with Hipster.” OK. No problem. The asshole that I am decided I was off book (lines memorized), so I didn’t even bring the sides in with me. Like I really wanted her to know that I had my lines memorized. What an idiot. So I start into my three paragraph monologue. After the first paragraph, I get a laugh from Nikki. Oh shit, she laughed. Nice. That’s good. What’s my next line?
Fuck, what’s the line? I can’t remember. I’m really sorry. “It’s OK, take your time, I’m impressed you’re off book.” Well Nikki, I guess I’m not because I’m completely blanking up here. I start over. It’s awful. I’m really hot. Why is it so hot up here? “You know what, just improvise.” Oh my God, I’m in improv class. Like, this is exactly the reason I’m taking improv and she’s asking me to do it and I can’t. What the fuck. I literally can’t say words. I’m really sorry. “It’s OK, you can read it.” Oh. Right. I didn’t bring the sides in with me. Because I’m an asshole. So Nikki gets up and goes out to the lobby to get me the sides. I’m left standing there thinking, this is so awful. Pull it together, Lindsay. She comes back in, unperturbed, and hands me the sides. We take it from where I left off after the first paragraph and I finally get through it. “OK this time, just do the third paragraph, and this hipster lives in Brooklyn and it’s always rainy and cold and miserable. She’s that hipster.” Oh OK, cool, I like that. I go into my Daria-esque hipster and have some fun with it. “This time you’re at Burning Man and you love everyone and you may or may not be on drugs.” Awesome. This one is even more fun. I get a big laugh from a small gesture I make which feels great.
Then she has me read for Reporter. This role is less fun but still fun for me. And then it’s over. I’m incredibly hot and feel almost dizzy as I start to walk out of the theater. By the time I reach the sidewalk, my head is pounding. I walk to my car and sit with my head on the steering wheel, moaning in pain and embarrassment. A great combination. Finally drive home, holding my head in one hand the whole way.
Well that was a great learning experience, if anything. I’m gonna be so ready the next time I audition for a play. And as bad as I felt about myself, the director did not make me feel bad about my performance, so that was nice.
Four days later I get the callback. Whattttttttt?! Yea. Callback. No shit. Even though I completely blanked and bombed, she still liked me. Well OK then. Great. I go to the callback much more relaxed. There’s a little more dialogue for the callback, but all in all, a pretty short audition. Nikki tells me she should know by Friday.
By Monday, I know I didn’t get the part. Definitely would have heard by now. But that’s OK. A callback is definitely a win. Besides, I would have been super stressed out with figuring out my schedule and taking off work and not making enough money. Money is tight enough as it is. Moving on.
Another audition – short film, unpaid. In the scene, I’m driving and let this stranger in my car because he needs to go to the hospital. But… he’s actually… a ghost! Creepy. I go through the scene and feel OK about it. The director, Julius, asks me to go through it again – this time with a little more foreboding, like it’s ominous. I go again, taking his notes. That wasn’t bad. But then, he surprises me. “This is a ghost story, so there will be some scary moments. I want to see you react to something scary. So I’m going to have you stand up, turn around, and after I count to five, turn around and be scared by what’s in front of you.”
Jesus. I am not prepared for this. I laugh a little as I stand up. Self-doubt starts to creep its way in – I do my best to fight it off. Take a step behind the chair as he kind of repeats his instructions for me. My mind is racing. Who’s scary? Who would terrify me? Then he says, “Something is there, in your face.” Some-THING? “Yes.” Oh great, it’s a thing. Like this changes everything. Trying to buy time. What’s scary, what’s scary. Spiders! Ew, I hate them. It’s a big one. No, that’s so stupid! Shit, it’s happening. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I turn around. Don’t ask me what I was thinking about in that moment. Maybe I was just terrified of what I was about to do. I instinctively put my hands up towards my face and move backwards, crouching down somewhat. I don’t wait for him to yell cut – which, obviously, I am supposed to do. “Great, good.” I sit down. He talks a little more about the project, then, “Wanna do it again?” Do I ever, Julius! Stand back up and move behind the chair. You’d think it would be easier the second time. No, it’s not. But I embrace it. Let’s do this.
And it’s over. Well. That was certainly unexpected. I could have done better. I could have committed more to being scared, but I don’t think I did terrible.
The following week, I get a callback. Whaaaaattt! Get out of here. In the email, Julius asks about my availability, if I can shoot the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Ugh, that means I have to take off work AGAIN. I really can’t afford to do this right now, but I’m not going to say no when I haven’t even been cast yet. I tell him I have work but I can get off, and that I’ll see him at the callback next week.
Don’t even ask me how this next thing happens. The callback is on Monday, in the afternoon. I meet with Action! before then, and explain my trepidation. I really can’t afford to take off work, but I already told the director that it’s fine to work for free – after all, the casting said it was unpaid. The girls assure me that it’s OK to ask for money. “If he can’t afford to pay you, then you can’t do it.” Even though I already said I could?? “Yes! He hasn’t cast you yet. It’s fine.” Ugh, OK. I am preparing myself to tell him this at the callback. I’m somewhat dreading it. I don’t want to deal with the confrontation. There were original callbacks on Friday, and I can’t go until Monday… maybe he will cast it on Friday and I won’t even be needed for the callback.
Sunday night I work. When I get home, I check my email. Julius has emailed to let me know that he has, in fact, cast the role, and I don’t need to come to the audition tomorrow. Slightly bummed, but relieved at the same time. I don’t have to deal with telling him I can’t do it unless he pays me.
Monday I wake up and do my morning pages, writing about my plans for the day – have a callback later. Oh wait, wow, I forgot. I checked my email when I got home from work last night and Julius emailed that he had already cast the role and I didn’t have to come in. Bummer I guess, but more relieved that I don’t have to deal with it!
Wrong-o. The callback was supposed to be at 3. He texts me at 3:15, letting me know his phone number and that if I’m having any trouble finding the place, to call him. What the- ?
So yea, I missed the callback. Must have dreamt that he emailed me about casting someone else. Probably because I just wanted to ignore the problem. I call him immediately, apologizing and explaining my ridiculous self. He’s very nice and understanding. I can come back on Wednesday to audition. Great! I’ll be there.
At work that night, I realize I never told him about paying me. Because all I was thinking about was that I missed the callback! So when I get home from work, I email him. Hey Julius, I wanted to apologize again for missing the callback today. I can’t believe I thought you emailed me when you didn’t. I swear, I must have dreamt it! Very unprofessional of me, so I’m sorry. I meant to tell you this today at the audition, and then forgot when I talked to you on the phone because I was so flustered by missing it, but I do unfortunately have a small problem. I know I told you I could get off work, and I have no issue with working for free – usually – but I have been taking off too much work for unpaid projects recently and am super stressed out financially. I make all my money on the weekends, so I really can’t afford to take off this Saturday and Sunday, unless you could pay me $100 a day.
I expect him to reply that he has decided to go with someone else, but instead, he replies with, “Hi Lindsay, hmm, yes, that seems only fair. For the shooting days after Thanksgiving, would you and I be able to work around your work schedule to curb your loss of pay and my production costs? Would you be able to officially accept the role as of this point? It is cutting close to the shoot, and a table read tomorrow with the two other actors would be much more helpful in lieu of another audition. This commitment would, of course, involve Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but I’m also hoping you’d be able to sacrifice a few hours Thursday in the morning, so let me know about Thursday morning availability, as well. Please get back to me as soon as you can and, if things square, I can send you the script. Thanks.”
Totally not the response I was expecting. I’m in! And booked for next weekend to act. And get paid for it. Working actor, bitchessss.
Action! decides to make monthly goals, starting in October. One of mine is to go on at least one audition a week. Need to get myself out there. In order to do this, I need to start submitting WAY more than I used to. Up until now, I have paid per submission on Actors Access (website). Basically, if I get a notice for an audition that I like, I’ll submit myself. The casting director will then see my headshot, resume, and reel. It’s $2 a submission for just your headshot and resume, and an extra $3 for the reel. I only just recently uploaded a reel (finally!) to my profile. So that’s $5 a submission. No wonder I’ve been so picky with my auditions. It’s so expensive!
That’s where Natalie comes in. Silly Stets, just sign up for the year subscription. I think it ends up being a little less than $80 for the year. I get my money’s worth within the first week of submitting. Amazing. Now I can submit for any and every audition. And I do.
Noticing a lot of Christmas postings right around now. Love it! A lot of it is theatre, which would be great if it wasn’t unpaid with shows every weekend in December – I wouldn’t be able to afford to live. But there is one USC (University of Southern California) short grad film that pops up. The premise looks adorable – young Saint Nick lives in an apartment building and has been practicing getting into apartments during the night, thus breaking into people’s homes. A nosy neighbor (that’s me) comes around, knocking on his door, wanting to know more about this new tenant. So cute.
I arrive on the USC campus for my first time. It’s a really nice campus. Everyone is riding around on beach cruisers in true California fashion. Find my way to the film department and take the elevator to where the audition is being held in a classroom. A guy is sitting outside the room, going over sides. Walk past him and into the room where a girl sits by herself. This is the writer and director, Haley. I get the sides from her and go back out into the hallway to go over them. It’s a few pages of dialogue. As soon as I read through it in my head, I get the kid’s attention who is sitting outside the door. Wanna come read with me? He says sure, and follows me outside to a balcony. Perfect for practicing. We go through it twice and are ready to go. Sure, I could practice longer but I just want to get in there.
Haley has us read together. It’s a one and done. I think it went well, but I don’t feel like I had the chance to do ENOUGH. I wish I brought more to the role. I do tell her that I love the premise and that the writing is good – something I haven’t been seeing a lot of when auditioning.
I tell the girls about it at our Action! meeting the next day. I really want this part! They collectively tell me to email Haley and tell her that. So I do. Reiterate what I said at the audition and if she’s on the fence about anything, I’d love to have the opportunity to audition for her again. She gets back to me asking about my availability for the following week before she makes any final decisions. I don’t see the email until the end of my shift at work, and freak out a little that since I didn’t respond right away, she may have already went with someone else. But she didn’t! I get to play the role of Kate!
Rehearsal on Monday at Haley’s apartment in downtown LA. Pretty sweet set-up she’s got, and that’s not even including all the amazing Christmas decorations everywhere. November 1st and I am officially in the Christmas spirit! My co-star, Josh, has not arrived yet, so I get to talk to Haley for a bit. Find out it’s not the same guy I auditioned with and that the third character in the short – Santa Claus – is AMAZING. I don’t get to meet him, because we’re not in any scenes together, but guys, he looks just like Santa! It’s crazy. And awesome.
Find out that Haley has four siblings and is also obsessed with Christmas, so, we have a lot in common already. I get to talk to her a little about the script. She sent us the most recent version of five pages and told us that if we have any suggestions, feel free to email her. I just can’t help myself. Email her just a tiny idea. It ends with Nick and Santa at the North Pole. I suggest ending it with Kate walking back into his apartment and seeing something that makes her “believe.” I don’t know what, but just a thought. Haley has decided to use that! When Kate walks back in, all the Christmas decorations will be gone, except for a snowglobe, sitting on the floor in front of her. “We can’t end it with that. My teacher says it has to end at the North Pole, but we’re still going to use it.”
Excellent! I’m excited. Josh arrives and we go through introductions and get right into the rehearsal. Lines, blocking, wardrobe. Thursday we’ll be filming, and that will be it for me. Josh has a couple scenes with Santa. I’m really only in the one scene in the apartment.
Thursday I arrive at Haley’s apartment and everything is set up, now with lights. She also has a crew of three others, all from her class. Josh is running late, so we get started with my individual shots. Josh then arrives and we get right into it. He’s kind of a weird dude, as many actors I meet are. Nice guy. By the end of the shoot I’m giving him a hard time about everything and he’s telling me to just be myself on camera (because my character is kind of bitchy —- good one).
I’m wrapped at 10. That’s it? Wow, that was so fast. I mean, it is only a 5-page script, but still. That was fun. Can’t wait to see it.
(Haley recently emailed to tell me that it’s almost finished and guess what… ended up going with Kate walking back into the apartment at the end. !!!)