Wednesday, December 7, 2011
That One Time: I Made A Huge Fool Of Myself On Camera
Somewhere in the world, there is video footage of me auditioning for a Nickelodeon show and bombing like nothing you've ever seen before.
To my credit, I am not an actor. Usually, I'm on the other side of this story, casting actors. But one day, a friend of a friend approached me and said that I was perfect for the role of the main love interest in a promising new series for Nickelodeon. They had already casted the role of my little sister, an actress I apparently looked enough like.
Her confidence in my suitability flattered me, and I was suddenly struck with the idea that this might actually be a secret talent of mine. I mean, I knew the right way to speak to casting directors having been one and I had so many times read opposite Hollywood hopefuls during their auditions. I could very well be the next Julia Roberts and have no idea!
So a few days later, after memorizing my scenes and concluding that my comedic timing was absolutely perfect in the second one, I waltzed into the Viacom building and checked in with security. "Let me guess... you're here for the audition," one of the guys said as he gave me my guest pass. I answered "yes" merrily and thought to myself, wow, I even look like an actor!
However, once I reached the room splashed with bright Nickelodeon logos, I realized that I didn't so much look like an actor, but like the rest of the girls sitting in the waiting room. They all looked like me, but were much younger. And tinier. As I signed in, I realized with horror that they were all there with their mothers. I, on the other hand, was solo and a college graduate who had long moved away from home. Never had I felt so uncool to not be accompanied by parents. A knot twisted in my stomach as I suddenly realized that I was far too old for this part. Okay, why didn't I realize this when I was told it was a Nickelodeon audition?! My God, why was I even called into this audition? Perhaps my friend's friend was a little drunk when she asked me. After all, we were at a dinner party with an open bar.
By the time I took a seat in the waiting area, I had already gone through a few panic attacks. Okay, maybe not panic attacks, but I had sent multiple texts to my sister, friend and boyfriend about how I was sitting next to girls almost half my age and height, and I felt like an idiot. As I bid adieu to my fantasies of being the next Julia, I simultaneously forgot all my lines and cues. Of course, I didn't realize it until the girl before me got called in to audition. Only then did I think to look over the script quickly, as my mind has gone blank.
The only comfort I had was the fact that there was time for me to bail. I could leave and escape embarrassment entirely. Not only was I elderly compared to the other girls, I was about to blow it.
But I decided to go for it. I was already there, and I was actually confident that I'd at least do that witty second scene pretty well. Plus, how often did I get to be on the other end of an audition? Never.
So I went in there, suddenly free of all my fear and anxiety. And I bombed. Really, really badly. Not only that, they cut the second scene for time, so all there was on camera was that first scene of me stuttering due to utter lack of memorization and timing.
But I left the room with a smile, albeit a borderline deranged one because I was laughing at myself. Hard. I was confident that I had given those casting directors a pretty good laugh after a long morning of auditions. I'd been in their shoes before.
So having had this experience, I now approach castings with more sympathy for actors. Also, I avoid Nickelodeon while channel surfing because I caught a glimpse of that show when it premiered a few years later, and damn it, it's really cute and funny and I kind of wish I was on it.