Liberation!

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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.

6 thoughts on “Liberation!

  1. An interesting read. I love the straightforward way you tell the story. I’m actually watching Some Kind of Wonderful. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched this movie.
    One question, do you talk like you write?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Allen, Hmmm I don’t know. I’m WAY more parenthetical in my speech than in my writing. It would be completely incomprehensible if I wrote the way I spoke. Also, I had to reread this to answer your question, found some typos and redundancies. Ah well. I love Some Kind Of Wonderful. Thanks for watching it so much.

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  2. I love this story. I just caught you in the trailer for “Sully” and was so excited. I’ve been a fan since Herman’s Head, and am so happy you not only chose to act again, but learned/were reminded quickly how good you are.
    I tell you, if I ever sell a script you’re getting a call. 🙂

    Like

  3. Dear Molly,

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I can completely relate to this scenario. I am the type of person that has probably failed at more things that most others have even attempted. I am starting to learn that I wasn’t the right ‘fit’ for many of the things I wasn’t able to achieve.

    I finally realised what my ‘fit’ was…. it was writing! I love it! Since my writing scope is really only Novelettes (roughly 7,500 to 17,500 words) no publisher would ever publish me. So I self published and started my own publishing company (Arty Fact Publishing). Now I find it impossible to get into retailers as the book ‘isn’t big enough’! You know something, I just don’t care anymore! It doesnt pay, but I love it… so I’ll write anyway regardless!

    Thats the secret! You fit when you love something so much you do it even if you can’t make a living out of t! I know you can probably relate to that (from your earlier years anyway).

    I was watching the movie ‘Red State’ there, I saw you in a cameo appearance. I immediately recognized you (and I hope you forgive me) I had to wait until the credits came up to see what your name was. You have such a unique look that I find it encapsulating to watch you on screen.

    I tried to remember other programmes I have seen you in over the years…. I immediately recognized you as a Vorta from ‘Deep Space 9’, I definitely remembered you from ‘Colombo’ (I loved that show), ‘Murder She Wrote’ rings a bell, ‘Alf’ was a show I remembered you in from my childhood, and ‘Friends’ (amoung others)!

    You have a remarkable way of uplifting someone who you have never met – so thank you for that. You are 100% correct, if you don’t fit then its better not to try and force it! I have done that so many times in life and its been an utter disaster!

    Thank you .

    Lee

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  4. Sometimes you read something someone has written (possibly a long ago) and it really puts things into perspective. This is a great story about not taking it personally in the entertainment business. It’s not just about ‘you’, but how ‘you’ fit into the piece as visioned by them. Thanks for sharing this story.

    Like

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