As a new actor, pursuing a career, you are sometimes asked to do some strange and specific things. Things you have to somehow already know, or fake enough to seem convincing.
For example, I have been asked to:
1) Sit in front of a window while someone threw a live pigeon at me and "act as if nothing is happening." (I am terrified of animals).
2) Sing and speak Spanish on an education tour to native speakers. (I minored in ASL in college).
3) Most recently, to "improvise naturally" about a sport I know NOTHING about.
There's some throwing, and then some catching...that's all I got.
And as an actor, you learn to always say, “Yes, Yes I can!” Or in the case of #2, “Si! Si se puede!”
It’s not lying, exactly, it’s just doing what you have to get the job. You get the job, then you figure out how to do it. And that never fails, right?
For every story about a famous actor who learned a skill or faked an ability to get a job, there are at least ten more where it ended in that actor losing the job and their reputation being tarnished.
There has been some pretty provocative conversation on CrazyTown about how our choices and our words can affect our careers.
It got me thinking, “If all we have is our word, isn't it okay to just tell the truth sometimes?”
Recently, I was got a callback for an NFL commercial. After the initial excitement of the, "Yay! I got a callback!" phase was over, the next phase hit. Let’s call this the, "How did I get a callback? What is the NFL? Who the **** is Aaron Rodgers???" phase.
Doing what every self-respecting lady would do, I Googled it.
It turns out that Aaron Rodgers is a very nice looking quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.
Hi, My name is Aaron Rodgers. I play football.
I recognized from the Allstate commercial where he dances in some sort of victory/insurance dance
Next, I had to learn about football.
This proved to be challenging and extremely dull.
Try as she might, my good friend and fellow blogger attempted to explain, with stick figures, how the All-American game is played. And try as I might have to absorb this information, I just couldn't seem to make it stick.
get it? stick? stick?
I arrived the next morning at my callback. I watched as one girl/guy combo after another went in to the
audition room. I listened with increasing dread as I heard all sorts of sports phrases and screams of delight being shouted from behind the closed door.
Just before I walked in the audition room, it hit me.
Instead of pretending to understand something I didn't, I should just have fun. It was okay to not know about football. If or when I got the job, that's when I could cram and figure it all out. At that moment, I just had to go in there and enjoy myself. The truth is, I can't make myself a football fan overnight any more than I could learn to tap dance like Savion Glover or lose 20 pounds overnight.
All we can do is play the hand we're dealt. In the big picture, we have to trust that sooner or later we'll have what the job requires-when the job requires it.
Five minutes after the audition I was grabbing my bags and heading to the door, after having to repeatedly shout "TOUCHDOWN" and waving my hands over my head.
I overheard two of the casting gents talking about me, "Well, she was hot, but she didn't know anything about football".
I walked away thinking, "Ok, great. One less thing to work on".
Iris McQuillan-Grace is an actor and a teaching artist. She lives in Williamsburg.
Cause its 5 o'clock everywhere today. By Iris McQuillan-Grace (actor)
We are a free country, which means we can eat - and DRINK - and generally be merry when and how we like. And because we enjoy this freedom, we also like to exploit it - by celebrating with a theme party. Just like we do with Christmas, Halloween or Valentines day. Or as I like to refer to them: Present day, Dress up day, and Candy day.
Independance day - the day we celebrate our great nations fore-fathers declaring us free from England's tyranical grip- has now become: Day Drinking (and grilling) Day!
YAY! We DID IT! LETS CELEBRATE AND DRINK BEFORE NOON!
Yes, the inherit spirit of this monumental and ultimately nation creating day is intact somewhere - just not in Williamsburg (BK, not VA).
Instead roofs are filled with tweens, twonks, and the occasional twi-hard. There are several grills frying various amounts of gluten free, meat free or hormone free options. At least one person has a guitar, but whether you're hipster, hippie, or hard core - the one thing you're all doing is eating something grilled - with a drink in your hand.
There's something magical about that to me. There really is.
Watching a community of people who don't look like they have much in common (and might not, really - lets be honest) all assemble this day in salute of their freedom, is pretty cool. So what if they're eating, drinking too much, leading them to make some questionable decsions that evening?
They're free.And that's the point.
When those fireworks go up over the manhattan skyline, there's really nothing like it. And I for one, will be happy to cheer to another year of being free in a country that lets me make my own choices (questionable or not).
We can't jump, but we can sing the high notes. By Iris McQuillan-Grace (Writer)
We all have them. The songs and monologues that get us noticed, get us a callback, or get us the job. The pieces that show us off and make us stand out. If we don't have them yet, we envy those who do. But don't worry. If you don't have one yet, I have a simple equation to find one.
Listen to Michael Jackson. Its that simple. Here's mine:
What's that? Sound crazy? Listen, I'm not anüberfan or anything, but the man is still considered the King of Pop and has twenty-one #1 hit singles. So he must have been on to something, right?
On the surface, MJ and I have only a few things in common. We both grew up singing with our siblings. We both have to stay out of the sun. We both love children (just not in the same way).
But once you listen to some of the songs he wrote you find the songs are lyric driven and still musically awesome. And here's the real kicker: they're fun! This is the real reason I think using "I Want You Back" has such a great rate of return for me. Because its fun! (Geoffrey Kidwell talked about this last week in his blog post about the french children he babysits for.)
We start performing because it is fun, because we connect to the undiluted joy that music creates just like she does:
OK. So the equation goes like this (I went to Emerson College so this might not be technically accurate):
You + Joy (MJ) = Callback
Try it and let me know how it goes! In the meantime, I have a thank you note to MJ's estate I need to write.
Iris McQuillan-Grace is an actor/ nanny/ teaching artist and recent MFA graduate from the New School for Drama.