I’m an actor.
This job of being an actor has paid my bills for quite some time… that’s how I express my creativity.
I’ve been on Broadway, I’ve been in movies, I’ve been in TV shows, and I’ve been in commercials – lots of commercials.
I love doing commercials. It used to have a stigma. But now I think people realize that anytime you can do something you love and get paid for it – it’s amazing. For me that’s acting.
A Life Changing Moment
I’ve auditioned a lot. I’ve auditioned sick, fat, hiding a pregnancy, tired, in large groups, alone, in bathing suits, in towels, in farmer garb (I’m from the Bronx, so I had to borrow stuff), as circus folk, as a nun, as a restless sleeper and as a dead person (which was a lot like the sleeper). I used to think that everything I wore from my socks to my earrings to my necklace… every strand of hair… everything had to be perfect… everything would make or break my audition. Then I had a life-changing moment.
I hadn’t worked for a while. I was at a callback for a national network phone commercial. I’m wearing exactly what I wore to the audition. Thinking that everything had to be exactly the same. Hopefully my khakis and plaid shirt nonchalantly worn over a complementary colored T-shirt would remind them why they liked me. So I’m waiting to go into the audition. Just sitting there. Being relaxed. Chewing some gum.
Chew. Chew. Chomp.
Then it happens. I bite my tongue. Really, really badly. It starts to bleed. A lot. My mouth is FULL of blood.
I remember reading somewhere that your tongue is the organ or organelle or something most filled with blood – when the Casting Director comes over to inform me that I’m next to go in. I nod and say “OK”. But instead of “OK” a huge blob of blood shoots out of mouth. Someone screams. The blood is all over my shirt! My shirt that’s going to remind them of how good I am!
The Casting Director is both shocked and horrified. He rushes into his office and gives me an old, smelly XL sweatshirt. “Put it on”. I do. The blood drips on my pants. His assistant, who has come out to see the festivities, peels off her leggings and I put them on right there. I have no shame anymore. The casting director pushes me into the room.
The commercial director tells me he wants me to do exactly what I did in the audition – an impromptu, self-choreographed ballet with roasted, stuffed turkey. I do. Trying not to open-mouth smile I twirl the dumb bird, I dip the stupid thing, I pirouette with it. I’m finished. I’m thanked. I nod. I leave.
On the ride home, in clothes that aren’t mine with that strong bloody iron after-taste still in my mouth, I cry. I really wanted that commercial. I hate myself for being so stupid. For chewing gum. The guy at a stop light next to me looks over and just shakes his head. He thinks I’m a mess. I have to agree.
Two days later, I book the commercial. I tell the agent there must be some mistake. He says, “No. They want you.” I do the commercial. I dance all day with a plucked bird. I love it. While I’m on the set I ask the Director why in the world he chose me. “You were funny.” “Didn’t you see I was bleeding at the callback?” “You know, the casting director told us – but you just were really funny.”
We Don’t Always See The Big Picture
I think the point is… that you can be at peace even when you don’t feel like it.
That peace can’t be squashed when you wear the wrong socks.
That goodness is always being expressed.
That you can’t see the big picture.
That it all works out.
That there is divine intervention.
That it’s not about your earrings or if your hair is a mess. That what matters is your essence, your joy of the craft.
That if you can just love yourself through it all – you will be free from a lot of fears. Really. You’re OK. Actually, you’re great! Just keep going.
Now, I don’t always wear the same thing to callbacks. I’m at peace about THAT worry… but I still don’t chew gum before an audition.
By ALISON MARTIN
Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Em, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, living life like your socks feel real good.
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