OR…how to feel like poop and have no fun. (Actually, that would be a "shitty" post...I didn't write about that!)
I’d like to share a personal story with you.
It's about not Really knowing everything you think you know about yourself. It's about taking scary chances.
I’ve been working in the Commercial Industry for almost 30 years.
I have seen a lot of changes over time, and one of the more welcome ones is a better representation of our worldwide community. There is a more inclusive vision which translates to more people of color, better age representation with more focus on the 45-85 crowd, more body sizes and shapes, LGBTQ, alternative types and generally more everyday folk that don’t necessarily fit into the “norm”.
I am not talkin’ about a perfect world here! Oh my Gawd, don’t get me started! However, there is much more room now for diversity than there has ever been before.
There is also a trend toward finding “real people”. As in people that don’t act for a living. People that really do look like your best friend, your next door neighbour, your doctor, your yoga instructor…there can be a really fresh quality revealed when someone “uninitiated” is in front of the camera.
What does this mean for you?
Please don't let your self perceived "imperfections" get in the way of a great audition.
We all know those evil voices in our heads. “I’m too old”. “I’m not pretty enough”. "My teeth are crooked". "My nose is weird". "I have too many freckles". "I'm the wrong colour." “I’ll try after I lose weight”, “after I get six pack abs”, “space between my thighs”, “get my confidence up”, “get a new haircut”, feel more confident”. “Maybe I will try when I know that I am ready”…and incidentally, you may Never feel like you are truly Ready!
You Don’t Gotta Be Perfect! You just gotta be you. Your "imperfection" might be just the nuance that lands you the role.
So…here’s my quick little share story.
I landed my first commercial when I was a size 20. I was a Big girl and super self conscious. To meet me, I was all shiny smiles and bluster, but inside? SCARED of what everyone was thinking about me! I was blown away when I got asked to audition. My heart froze, I couldn’t think anything but “On Camera??!! On TV??? Everybody Looking at me? My friends Seeing me…especially friends that hadn’t seen me for years…I was terrified! But kind of excited too! Little voice in me, the kid in me…goin’ “Do it! Do it! Do it!” I slammed my brain shut & jumped off that high diving board. “Sure! I’ll give it a try!”
I did the audition as if I was totally cool with the way I looked and felt & got a callback. They liked Something about me, and I got the job! The spot was for Curves. It was Not glamorous! They wardrobed me in a Humungous pair of sweat pants and sweatshirt. No make-up cause it was a gym scene (I SO wanted makeup and hair!!). My big clumsy plain faced self worked out on that exercise machine, on camera for hours. It was Hard! But it was also really cool. I was a 45 year old big black woman and I was in a commercial. All my friends & family would be seeing me. The experience kind of blew me away. Because I said yes, I booked a commercial...and got Paid! And! I have to tell you, it felt Really Really good to say to myself "I Did it I Did it!"
More recently – me close to 60. There was a little less of me, but still a good solid size 14/16 with Lots of gray hair coming in. I was no longer Young or passing for being in my 40’s! I still struggled with my appearance.
Brain chatter = not small enough, talented enough, Good enough. Crazy universe = once again I got asked to audition! Ha!! I had to jump right into callbacks...they'd already seen everyone in town! I did that audition like I didn't have a care in the world. Like my old chubby self sweating and grunting and trying to do the hula hoop was the most natural thing for me to be doing! (I didn't Know that I was going to be bloody Hula Hooping!! sheesh!) I booked and shot that Campbell’s Soup commercial! (there’s a big story here that I will share with you another time!) Anyway, I had a blast & I got paid! Once again, the high was actually in the Doing. The trying something that I wasn't confident about, and gettin' 'er done!
Both times I was scared as heck. Filled with self doubt and preconceived ideas about what I should Look like and Be like and no time to make it happen! lol!! Thank Goodness, because ...
The take away is this; Old, Black, Fat, Awkward…these were My defining words for myself. The director and client saw something in me that I didn’t see. If I hadn’t said YES to trying, I would never have booked. I would Never have had the wake up call that I had because of that experience. Because here’s the thing…when I saw myself on tv, I saw something else in myself too! I saw this vibrant, happy fun woman just diggin’ her life! It was like I’d opened up this magic door and I could catch a glimpse of what others might be seeing. It was a game changer! Yes…I was still big…even Bigger on TV! Still had the big mop of graying hair, the puffy eyes, the weird way I move my head when I’m talking, omGAWD the “faults”! Ha!
I had Always been telling everyone else to take a chance, live life to the fullest, swallow their fears, be open Open OPEN. I KNEW that was where the real fun was...the Magic. But, when it came to me…I generally played it pretty safe. I may have Looked like I took chances, but those chances were always in my comfort zone. Always played out where my natural strengths were. I hated to look the fool, and so I stayed where I had a damn good chance of looking Good!
Since the Campbell’s Soup Commercial, I have made a point of chipping away at my silly “I can’t I can’t” self talk by saying YES as often as I can. Even if I Know there is a good chance I will look the fool. That people will talk. That I won’t be very good, or worse that I will really really Suck!
I am now in my 60’s. My body is Really showing the ravages of time! AND, this year I have said YES to: doing a fashion show amongst a very elite crowd (sleeveless and bare legged!) & sporting a Bikini poolside in Palm Springs!! Oh. My. GAWD!!!! I have also moved to an island where I don't know anyone, joined a speaking club, an artist's club (where almost Everyone else is accomplished on a worldwide level) – gulp!, and taken on a Massive Fundraiser for wildlife. Oh ya…I am SOOOO taking life ON! Like being a kid...I want to Try it! Taste it! See what happens! Never been more engaged, delightfully nervous and Strong. Had I only known sooner how testing my Real boundaries could expand my joy and life appreciation. I don’t now if I would have lived my life differently if someone had told me, but no-one ever did. So I am sharing this big life lesson with you – I hope it helps free your mojo up a bit. Gets you a little closer to saying Yes, all Through your life!
Let’s get back to how this will help you with Commercial Auditioning. It may help you to know what the client is looking for & what you are actually there to provide.
What the client wants is for the audience to be able to relate to the commercial & to the product. They want us to Care about the “characters” and recognize a bit of ourselves in them.
So. When you walk through that door for your audition, show up Fully engaged and happy to be there!
We want to see and feel the real you and be able to relate. To perhaps even see a little of ourselves in You.
Your “You-ness” is your gold. Embrace your quirks and human-ness. Bring your Self to your auditions with a feeling of “Here I am!” No apologies, no wishing you were different.
When I look at the Casting Specs coming for our projects these days, more often than not, I see these words to describe the roles as: Quirky, Interesting, Character, Unconventional, Funny, Comedic, Ethnically Ambiguous, Average size, Plus size, Exceptionally Tall, Athletic, Hispanic, Asian, Black, Mixed Race, Mixed Race Couples & Families, LGBTQ couples, Tattoos, Alternative looking, Unique, Red Heads…the list is endless. Sure, we are still asked for the typical look, but honestly, the floodgates have opened. We are starting to see “ourselves” as the featured characters in Commercials.
Huck those worries about your Age, Size, Ability, Color, Insecurities out the window. We asked you in because we want you there!
Let the payoff be in the Joy of Doing! (and then keep your fingers crossed that you win the lottery and book!)
I would really like to hear your comments. What has the auditioning journey been like for You? Do you feel confident when you walk through that door? Is there anything that you would like me to talk about? Let me know!
In gratitude always,
ps...Murdine and I will be there front and centre for you this coming Sunday, April 3rd 12-4. Next Step Commercial Workshop for Beginners. We would Love for you to come out and play! ;)
PPS... RE: FAT, BLACK & OLD? - I threw that nonsense away!