Eight years ago, I worked at a cupcake store in Burbank. I remember the job interview like it was yesterday. I sat on a bench outside of this fresh heaven with the owner who asked me the usual questions. Where are you from? Do you like consuming large amount of sugar? What’s your availability? How do you commute? And then the question every struggling actor in need of a day job dreads… Why are you in LA?
I’ve had lots of answers to this particular question, depending on the job I was interviewing for. Sometimes I told the truth, sometimes I lied by omission, other times, I just straight-up lied. I once told a company that I didn’t go to college because that was better than telling them I had a degree in acting. You’d think in a city saturated with dreamers; restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, etc. would learn to embrace and sympathize with our struggle, that’s rarely the case, but I digress.
On this particular day, I decided to tell the truth, because learning the secrets to buttercream for $9 hour didn’t seem worth the bad karma I would probably get for trying to convince this nice lady that I moved 3000 miles away from home to bake cupcakes in Burbank. Her response to my honest answer changed me.
I said, “I moved here to be an actor”. She said, “Well, someone’s got to make it. Why not you?”
Yeah. Why not me?
As you all know by now, I’ve quit acting a lot over the last ten years. I quit this week. But, what keeps me coming back, besides some well-masked need for validation stemming from a childhood trauma my therapist can’t quite put her finger on yet, is what this woman said to me that day.
Why. Not. Me.
The last week was a rough one for Amelia, the actress. I had not one, but two auditions on Monday and when you’re averaging one audition every two weeks, having two in one day is exciting and overwhelming and completely wonderful.
The first audition was for a role I was perfect for, in a play I love, with a theatre company I really respect. I worked my ass off on this audition. I coached with my go-to guy (Jamison Jones for all you LA actors looking for an incredible teacher), spent all weekend with my script, I even cheated a little and watched the movie to find more inspiration. I showed up on Monday feeling prepared and nervous, my favorite combination. The audition was good. I left feeling good. Not great. But that was okay because I was sure I’d get a callback and be able to make the adjustments I wanted to make then. On to the next!
The second audition was for a small role in one episode of a new Hulu pilot. The project was big, the role was small (and don’t give me any of that “there’s no small roles” crap, there are small roles, this was one of them). This job wouldn’t have changed my life, but it would’ve been a nice credit for my IMDb, maybe a cute clip for my demo reel, and it definitely would’ve been a good casting office to book with. I showed up to the studio lot nine minutes late, wearing black spandex short-shorts and a blue polka dot sports bra. When I checked in, security said I had a ten minute walk ahead of me. Glad I was wearing my sneakers, not glad that my feet were the most covered part of my body. I laughed at myself as I walked past important men in suits and TV sets and famous actors, sticking out like the sore, naked, 30 year-old thumb that I was. The audition itself lasted less than a minute and before I knew it, I was trekking back to my car, holding the sides of my “shorts” down in an attempt to keep my butt from actually swallowing them.
I drove to my now day-job (which I actually really, really love) with a big ol’ smile on my face because I felt like a working actor. What can I say? I’m in love with the hustle.
If this were a movie, I would drive my Prius into the sunset as the screen cuts to the next day when my phone rings, and it’s my agent on the line saying, “Dollface, you got the part!”. But, this is not a movie… yet.
My phone did ring the next day. It was a pre-recorded call from Gary in Seattle who wanted me to stop what I was doing and listen to his “very important message”. “Fuck you, Gary”, I said as I hung up and slammed my phone down.
I did not get a callback for the role I was perfect for in the play that I love and I will not be saying two lines in one episode of a Hulu pilot.
So, on Tuesday, I quit acting. I spent most of the day deciding if I should go back to school or just start popping out some babies. And as I began leaning towards breast feeding and diapers, I remembered cupcake lady from 8 years ago.
Why not me?
Someone’s got to, and I really, truly believe, that I am that someone. I can not and will not let one theatre company or one casting director or one anything tell me any differently. I get a say in this, and I say, “Why. Not. Me?”
I think when we get discouraged or something doesn’t go our way, it’s easy to default to a “why me” mentality. Let’s change that. When life throws you a curve ball, catch it. If you get a lemon, make the freaking lemonade. Don’t ask “why me”, instead, declare “why not me”!
Today, I quit “quitting”. I realize I’m going to have thousands more auditions and I’m not going to book a single one of them. I’m going to want something so bad I can taste it and I’m not going to get it. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s life. That’s my life. But one day, that will change because…. Why not?