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SCARLET SMITH: CAST (WINONA RYDER)
HENRY MCCARTHY: CAST (MARK...
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Darbi takes us on a backstage tour of the hit Broadway musical, Legally Blonde and has a conversation with Beth Curry.
I have had a very busy, successful week. It started on Monday, when I got a call from Paradigm Agency, whom I had met at The Network back in March. They submitted me and I was subsequently requested for an audition for an Easy Off over cleaner national commercial. I was thrilled to get this audition through an agency! Everything I have done in NYC has been my own doing, up until now. I have been represented in New York before (by a stinky agent who shall remain nameless), but this is actually the first time I have been sent out on an audition. And this is a very big agency, and if I have a good showing for this audition it will make them that much more interested in me going forward.
The audition for Easy Off was Tuesday. They told me I would be a contemporary, suburban mom but that there would be a little bit of a 50s feel to the commercial. This is perfect for me- I am a contemporary actor but there is something about my look and my sensibilities that is very 40s or 50s retro. I have never been to that casting director’s office before (Beth Melsky) and I am thrilled to finally get an introduction. Upon walking in I pick up a size card (where you write your contact information and your clothing/body sizes) and they take my photo using a Polaroid Camera, attaching it to the size card (in lieu of a headshot/resume.) I head into the audition holding area, and there are 10 other girls who are in my type category. While we are the same type on paper, I don’t really look like anyone there. Everyone is blonde, caucasian, and fair skinned, but they are older than me and have short, easy to maintain “mom” haircuts. You know the look- pastel sweaters and khaki pants with white tennis shoes. Yeah, not me.
They call my name and I walk into the studio. There is a backdrop set up with a camera facing it, and a mark on the floor for us to stand on. They also have a tray of props that we can use during the segment. There is no dialogue for this audition- it will all be miming, and what I have to do is carry a dish into the kitchen, open the oven, and gasp when I see that the oven has spots. Then I have to wipe the spots up and become very pleased with myself that Easy Off works so well. I did one take, and the casting director says, “Ok. Good. Um, do something different this time.” I do another take, and then a third, longer (and final) take. For some reason, each time I am getting the sense that I am, well, a little... rusty. I haven’t done this kind of miming in several years- the commercials I have done all have had dialogue (this commercial has voiceover dialogue instead.) When I am done, instead of showing me out (as he did with the other actors) the casting director was writing something on my card. I was certain it was something like, “Never bring this girl in again, she can’t even MIME, for god’s sake!” I kind of waved goodbye awkwardly and let myself out. On the way home, I contemplated sending a thank you card, because I wanted to keep in touch with this office. But I seriously considered writing only, “It was great auditioning for you this week” omitting the fact that it was for Easy Off, so as not to remind them of how rusty I was in the audition.
Fast forward to two days later, and as I come out of the subway my phone signals a message. It is from the agency, and I have a callback. WHAT???? I stood, mouth agape, for at least a minute, letting the filthy New York air creep in. I seriously had a callback for the commercial, after a bunch of BAD miming. AWESOME! I had achieved what I set out to achieve- the agency put their faith in me to submit me for an audition- and I do well enough to get a callback. Yippee! I called the agency back to confirm for the callback the next day. I feel like I have really accomplished something here.
At the callback on Friday, virtually no one looked like me. There were two blondes, but they were very different types (and older.) The rest were brunettes, with both fair and dark skin. Apparently I was representen’ (slang) for the young, funky moms out there! It was obviously there there was one of every type there, and now it was just up to the ad agency to decide which matched the look they were going for. And, often, when you see one of every type it means they don’t really know what they are going for, but they will know it when they see it. Prior to my audition, the casting director came out and was making jokes with us. He said I looked like someone familiar to him, and asked if had I been on TV recently? I told him no, but he didn’t believe me- seemed like maybe he thought he saw me on a competitors commercial? Then he said, “Well, it was someone who looked like you then, but you are cuter than she was.” Hmm...
He then brought me into the studio and I met the ad people, who were very nice. The room was large, and all of the agency reps sat behind a lone camera which was hooked up to a huge TV screen. I did the exact same thing as in the previous audition, but this time the camera was farther from me and I had a harder time connecting to it. I was miming the whole scene, but at the end I was to look directly into the lens so that they could really see my eyes and expressions. I had trouble finding and holding my focus on the lens- film & TV actors are conditioned to look everywhere BUT the lens of a camera, so this is always tricky. I certainly did the best I could do that day (and they even laughed quite a bit at my take on the commercial.) But in the end I knew that it didn’t matter how well I did- they would select an actor based on things out of my control. I think that when you are called back, the casting people know that you are equipped to do the job, it is now only a matter of preference.
I did not end up getting cast, but it was wonderful that the agent called to tell me that. After so many years of scheduling my own auditions, and then waiting anxiously by the phone for a call that may never come, it is nice to have someone on my team who does that kind of work for me. It allows me the space and energy to do what I do best- hone my skills, network within the industry and make lasting connections, show up to auditions prepared and energized, and do good work when I am hired. That is what I am here for...