A few weeks ago I was called into audition for a busy casting agency in New York for an episodic tv show. When I walked into the waiting room, I saw another actress sitting at the table that I knew who had done a reading of my work a few years ago.
When I said hello, we smiled, genuinely happy to see each other, we hugged and shared in the normal pleasantries of how’ve you beens and so good to see yous. When I went to sit down at the table, I saw all the joy leave from her face.
The Silent Negotiator
I wasn’t sure if she didn’t realize I was there for the same audition or if her social mask temporarily left her. Whatever it was, I saw fear, self-doubt and pensiveness creep up on her face in a matter of a second. She looked as if she wanted to say something; almost wanting to ask me why was I there? Like why couldn’t I just let her have this? Have what? I thought.
I mean I was there, just like her and countless other actors trying to get a job. A job that if acquired brings with it a nice check with residuals, credibility and more film experience to build on and add to the career. All of these things which are part of my goals as an actor are things that I want. The job does not bring with it a strong sense of self love, appreciation, honor, esteem and true confidence.
As soon as she entered the audition room, I was relieved to be alone in the waiting room. Her energy gone, I started focusing on the side, about to go over the beats and actions of the scene. No sooner had I centered myself when another actress I knew walked over to the table.
The Mind Psych Wannabe
Happy to see her I got up and gave her a hug. When I went back to my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that she sat two seats away from me at the table, and had shifted her chair so she was now positioned sideways, her body entirely facing my profile. She sat there with her legs crossed, watching me as I was trying to get myself re-centered. She asked me a few questions about a book I was reading, a book that I had placed on the table earlier. After a moment she said, “I’m distracting you, aren’t I?”
Now my alter ego , Hyperah, whom I named this because she gets hype at the drop of a dime, ready to protect and defend me from all crazy behavior, had just removed her bamboo door knockers and greased up with a jar of Vaseline. Hyperah said to me, “Now why the hell would she say some shit like that? Crazy bitch just stated her fuckin objective. Heifer is trying to mind psyche you out. Why don’t she just chill and shut the fuck up? Insecure bitches up in here must want me to run up on them.”
But my higher, calmer self replied, “No it’s fine.” After I came out of the audition, the same actress asked me if I had auditioned for the Nurse role, and I replied I had, as I packed my things away. She asked if I had used my phone in the audition, I replied that I had. She stated how she’d gotten there so early. As I was hurriedly changed my shoes, she said, “Well…you look gorgeous.” Not clear why she chose to say this then in a tone that ranged from feigned consolation to a muted fish for compliments, I responded referring to her beauty, “We all do, black don’t crack,” as I left the waiting area.
Enough is Enough
That was a strange thing for me to say in that moment. I don’t know why I chose exactly those words but I did know I had had enough. Enough with the breaking down, microscopically examining the competition in the waiting room. Enough of the deflated looks of actors when they see other actors walk in. Enough of the “what does she have that I don’t have?” the “what is she working with?”
Getting the job is an awesome feeling. So is knowing that you are awesome, with or without the job. Even better is trusting and knowing that the Source/ Master Creator/God space you believe in is working for all of us to be aligned on our paths.
Despite the fears and inconsistencies the outside world feeds you, knowing deep down that you are and always have been enough is the shit yall! It’s empowering to know that every actor meant to act gets the job they were meant to get. And even if you don’t get the job you really really really wanted, you learn from that experience and tighten up your craft, preparing you for the next job.
Know the Truth
And that’s the thing. There will be a next job. As long as you keep going. Nothing I do, wear, say or don’t say in the waiting room changes this truth.
To my beautiful, bold, daring, fearless and passionate fellow actors: the next time you find yourself feeling doubtful and insecure in the audition waiting room, take a breath and ask yourself, what would I tell my nervous 5 year old self if she/he was sitting here about to go in to try out for a show? The kind, nurturing and encouraging words you’d offer then absolutely apply to you now.
-Copyright 2016 Antu Yacob