The audition process can be a soul-sucking journey through hell. At least it was for me. Worrying about what I did or didn’t do in the room to get a role took up a tremendous amount of space in my life. Trying to make sense and take control of the nonsensical and uncontrollable was a maddening exercise in futility. But then one glorious moment it all changed and I didn’t waste one more moment on “why.” I have told this story so many times someone suggested I write it down. If this could help one other person it will be worth it.
When I was in my late 30’s, I was being considered for a series regular role on a very funny show. It came down to me and another gal. My final callback for the network had the lead man in tears. Seriously, he was laughing so hard he cried. The other gal may have been terrific, but she was a foot taller than the lead. So I knew I had the role. I knocked it out of the park, I was the right size and they wept. I was clearly the choice.
Turns out I didn’t get it. I was stunned and deeply saddened. I wracked my brain trying to figure out “why. “ In the middle of me raging against God, the producers called and offered me a recurring role. This was going to be substantially less money. And I would have to watch someone else play my part. The part I so desperately wanted and thought I deserved. Did I mention I made them cry?
I needed the money, so I sucked it up and said yes.
This was a multi-camera show. The process involves rehearsing for four days and then performing for a live audience on the fifth. Normally, I love being on stage watching rehearsals even scenes I’m not in. The whole journey of creating a show thrills me.
But not this time. I drove to the studio that first day dreading it. I walked in, said hi to everyone, congratulated the actress who got my part, ate a bagel and was shown to my dressing room. After a few minutes a phone call let me know the first scene was being rehearsed and I wasn’t needed. Ugh. This is normally when I would head to the stage to soak up and enjoy all the other performers doing their thing. So I had a big talk with myself and said, “You are either going to be a part of this and enjoy it or waste an entire week being miserable. What do you want, joy or misery?”
I decided I wanted joy. I girded my loins, walked down to the stage and sat in the audience. They read through the scene and then they started to block it. I watched like St Paul on the road to Damascus with scales falling from my eyes. I suddenly saw that I didn’t fit. No way would anyone ever believe that I was a member of this family. It WASNT’T “my part.” I wouldn’t have cast me. For whatever intangible reason, this woman, who was a foot taller than the lead, really seemed like his wife. She fit! I didn’t. I was an outsider. Which was exactly the role they cast me as, an awkward unlikeable outsider.
I felt like I was walking on air I was so relieved. I didn’t suck, I was not a bad actor, I simply wasn’t “right.”
I had loved working on that sitcom. Every time I was lucky enough to be on the show I enjoyed the hell out if it. It was funny, the people were terrific and it was extraordinarily well cast.
After that experience, I never second-guessed an audition again. There ARE things you have no control over. And even though on the page you may seem perfect for the role, it doesn’t mean you are. There are so many variables that make someone right or wrong for a role and 90% it has nothing to do with your ability.
My happiness as an actor grew exponentially that day. Now – this does not mean I don’t occasionally suck at auditions or that I’m never upset when I don’t get cast. But it does mean I no longer doubt my ability or agonize over “why.” I have been liberated from that misery for about 15 years.
I wish you the same.