Sunday, June 23, 2013

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Inner Ditz -- Part 1

I sit down to my blog today wondering what misadventure I shall share with you?!  Of late, I feel like I'm just keeping a running log of events -- or a lack thereof -- rather than the advice and comedy element I so enjoy sharing.  I did go to a workshop this week to stay on the radar of a CD who is one of the few who genuinely care about giving less credit-laden talent a shot.  (Side note: Hope you don't mind, I'm going to abbreviate casting director from now on.  I'm too goddamn lazy to write it out one more time.)  And while it went very well, including compliments from the CD on my choice of scene and my "very natural and believable" execution, it was really just another day at the grind.  Just another stoke to the fire that will hopefully, ...I mean please-dear-god, ...I mean eventually burn this city down.  No further elaboration necessary.

Instead, I realize I haven't told you one of the most important lessons I have learned from my work recently.  I have spent a lot of time analyzing myself, my look, my talent, my "quality", my whatever.  Some may even say over-analyzing.  Anony guilty of spending to much time in her head?? What?  No way.  

In case you are a new reader... that is definition number one for sarcasm.

Anyway, I have taken very honest looks at myself and narrowed down my most accessible character types, and I go after them with great zeal.  One of the things I had "decided" was that though I can get called in for them quite easily based on my appearance, once I step into the room, I am too articulate and psuedo-educated to pull off a bimbo-type.  Add to that the fact that I don't really want to play the ditz, I had become completely content with letting those types of roles just slip on by without a second look from me.  Oh, but how life -- and career -- provide little lessons whether you want them or not.

On my last movie, I submitted for the witty friend slash smart-ass supporting lead.  A great role with pages of wonderful sarcasm throughout.  In addition to preparing sides for her, the producers also asked me to give a read for another supporting character... the ditzy, silly, is-she-really-doing-that comedic relief.  Soooooo not the role I wanted, nor thought was right for me.  But I obliged and put both down on tape.  I even joked with my friend who read with me, "Watch.  I'm going to book the dumb one."  Intuition perhaps?

Naturally, with the tremendous sense of humor in the universe, I did.  A mere few hours after the casting team received my submission, they were calling me with an enthusiastic offer.  Admittedly my first thought was, "Aww... I didn't get the witty friend?"  But of course, I am not in a position to be passing on legitimate film roles, so I immediately accepted the offer with much gratitude. 

As I shared the good booking news, I could hear my own judgment in my voice when talking to friends and family about the upcoming role.  I noticed my eyes rolled as I referred to my character as "the bimbo".  I had a few weeks to prepare before I was to be flown up to set, so I allowed myself the first week to speak candidly about the film and my role in it, keeping me-the-actress and me-the-character separate.  Then I knew I had to cut myself off and learn to love my new "self"... the ditz.  It was my job to find a way to let all that judgment go.  If I carried even the slightest hint of judgment or reservation from commitment into my performance, it would most certainly read in the final film.  That's what amateurs do, not professionals.  And certainly not stars.  I want to be the type of actress who can turn even the smallest of roles into a performance of a lifetime.

As I began the final two-week stretch before my first call time, I sat staring at the script.  How the heck am I going to rationalize some of this?  How do I pull off these gag-worthy jokes and the stereotypical airhead behavior?  There were a couple moments while reading the script when I rolled my eyes and yelled to my roommate, "You've GOT to be kidding me.  I mean, really?!"  How the heck am I supposed to make that funny and not just stupid and annoying?! 

I am a great actor, but I can only do so much, I thought.  I had two weeks to turn a cliche into a fully-realized, complex human being.  If I failed, literally every scene with my character would fall flat.  Shit.  

What did I do?  

Stay tuned for part two to find out!  This is like one of those annoying cliff hanger endings.  Yeah, exactly like that.

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