Thursday, 27 October 2011


Yesterday afternoon I found that just very occassionally, miracles can happen. Despite my apparently desperate attempts to sabotage my entire acting career, as described in Monday's entry Surprises, I only went and bloody landed myself one of the parts. It was one of those calls where the director spent a good few minutes telling me how much they enjoyed my audition and how impressed they were but I was still convinced that it would end with the dreaded 'unfortunately we just don't think you were right for any of the roles available at this time but we'll definitely keep you in mind for future roles.' But don't worry, the world won't be subjected to my highly skilled, rapping ways. Nor will it be forced to watch the part that was probably closest to my casting. Oh no. Instead anyone with internet access will worryingly be just a few clicks away from seeing me pretending to be a 16 year old Irish girl who lives on a London estate. Bin your router and get closing your internet accounts now. Soon the world wide web will be a far scarier place.

Shooting starts next week and I've just spent the last half an hour getting massively excited about the script. I get to brandish weapons, run away from monsters and strangle someone. It's one of those scripts that properly reminds me how lucky I am to do this job. Of course, the role doesn't pay but how many people get to spend their weekdays racing around a housing estate attacking monsters? Loads? Oh. Well how many people get to do it while doing a hack Irish accent?

But the miracle of getting the job doesn't stop there. Oh no. So, faced with the prospect of making sure that I'm tone perfect with this non-Welsh accent, I'd normally have to spend hours couped up in my room desperately mimicking poorly made YouTube clips. But not this time. Because Mr Miracle has decided that this week he wants me for a sunbeam, I only happen to be going to bloody Ireland this weekend. This means that I can annoy everyone I speak to by constantly whispering back everything they say in an accent that probably sounds like it's been backpacking round the world twice. If you live in Ireland then it's probably best to use this weekend as the perfect excuse to go on that holiday that you've always talked about. You have been warned.

I've got a week to get this accent nailed. If you hear a muttered dodgy Dublin accent next to you when you're on the tube or ghastly Galway mutterings drift your way while you're stood at the bus stop then I can almost guarantee that you finally discover who the mysterious Miss L is. If anyone has any tips, or even better, how to get Mr Miracle to stick around until the film has wrapped, then please let me know.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

So Close

Today the 'So Close Bug' has swarmed into town. Every job I see today, on first glance, appears to be perfect. The role sounds like something I could do and they actually involve getting paid. Imagine that? A role that you could play and they'll give you a few pennies for being so god damn perfect for the part too? With each casting call, my heart has skipped several beats as I read down what the role entails. I start forming my perfect cover letter, content in the knowledge that the part is mine. That's until I read the final requirement. And damn, you can always bet on that final requirement being the one thing you can't overcome.

So far today I've got excited about roles that finally reveal that they require you to be black, 5'9" and blonde, have access to your own small child and be an astronaut. Even with the best will in the world, these are insurmountable requirements. Even if I didn't sleep for a week and did everything possible to work on these, there is no way that I can change race, grow an extra 5 inches, give birth to a small person or train to fly to the moon. Although frustrating, there is something quite nice about the 'so close and yet so far' casting calls. There is absolutely nothing that I can do about it. I can't feel guilty about the lack of time I'm putting into making myself a more versatile actor because these are aspects about myself that I can never change.

It's the qualities that you probably could have that are the annoying ones. The fact that I can't speak fluent Arabic is totally unforgivable on my part and means that I've lost out on quite a few roles because of it. If I'd bothered to keep up my flute and oboe classes at school then those casting calls that require the actor to play a portable instrument would be accessible to me. If I'd saved up my money for singing lessons rather than spending it on countless trips to London Zoo so that I could gawp at penguins for hours on end then I wouldn't have to shirk away from pleas for actors who can sing. These are the things that I beat myself up over and make me realise that there's always more that I could be doing. I've bought language tapes, various instruments and various sets of juggling balls but all get used for a couple of days until my annoyance at not being able to master means that they are consigned to a life under a thick layer of dust, fluff and receipts.

But it's not unknown for me to try and gain these skills in time for an audition. A few years back I was asked to audition for a very good play with a very good theatre company. They asked me to prepare a five minute story telling piece, to be prepared to show them a skill that they could possibly use within the performance and also a bellydancing a routine. Sorry, a what?! Why would they ask me to do that? Why would they be so cruel as to just throw that in? I checked back over the casting call and stupid Miss L had missed that one of the requirements was that the actor be proficient at belly dancing. Oh god. But instead of holding my hands up and saying that I'd messed up, I decided to use the week that I had to try and learn. This would be the perfect opportunity to finally add a new and interesting gift to my very sparse looking 'other skills' section on my CV. I bought a couple of belly dancing DVDs and then spent nearly every waking hour desperately trying to teach myself how to undulate my stomach without looking like I was midway through a seizure.

The day of the audition came along all too quickly and I was terrified. I was totally unprepared and had somehow convinced myself that I'd be able to wing this one. I had a piece of bellydancing-esqe music downloaded which I'd managed to listen to a couple of times and apart from a couple of moves, I had pretty much no idea what I was going to do. I went in an aced the storytelling part and then played the piano for a bit which all seemed to go down well. They then said that they were ever so sorry but unfortunately, because they were overrunning, there would be no time to watch me shimmy and shake in their faces. I was more relieved than a relief worker relieving herself on a sculptural relief while watching Comic Relief.

Thankfully I never heard from them again so my bellydancing days were shortlived. I may not be able to juggle and I'll never be able to play the lute but 'not being caught out' should almost definitely take pride of place on my CV.

Monday, 24 October 2011


Sometimes I wonder if this blog is trying to write itself. I really thought that after a few weeks, I'd start to struggle with what to write about. Not all my auditions could contain ridiculous amounts of hilarity. Surely some auditions would crop up which were completely normal. I wouldn't fall over, be asked to take part in some far-fetched improvisation and then stumble over lines like the expertly placed trip wires that they are. But of course I was wrong. Somehow, every audition throws up some scenario that has me leaving what the hell I'm doing with my life and then how quickly I can get home so that I can blog about it. I'm pretty sure that I'm now looking at castings for the blogging propects rather than how it can help further my career. I worry that telling you all about my pitiful tales of somehow trying to earn a living is becoming a lot more important than actually earning that said living. Oh well, here comes another....

Today's audition was for an internet sitcom. It all seemed very normal. I didn't get to see a script before the audition but the little write up on the character was all fine and didn't set off even the faintest ring of an alarm bell. It was unpaid, of course, but it looked like it could be a fun project so I set off this morning feeling fairly upbeat about it all. When I arrived I was given some information on the project and then read through the scene I'd be doing. Still, all fine. The scene read OK and despite the fact that I'd be performing right in the window, in full view of a busy high street, I was one happy actress. I was first asked to perform a quick improvisation (very faint alarm bells started to become just about audible) where I had to talk about myself for a couple of minutes to camera. I'd only read one small scene where my character had about five lines so I didn't have a great deal to go on so I had to do more padding than an A-cup bra. I have an awful feeling I said 'I like going out and staying in' and I'm pretty sure my waffling on about South America would've been a lot more interesting if my mind at that point hadn't decided to refuse all knowledge of any South American countries. After that we read through the scene a couple of times and all seemed happy.

I was then asked to read for a couple of other characters. Not a problem. If there are other characters that I'm suitable for then I'm all for increasing my chances of actually getting a damn role. The first character was 16. Oh. Right. I mean, I've got a young casting but 16? Technology has come a long way but there ain't no computer programs that can make me look that young. Oh, and she's Irish. Brilliant. If you think I should be ok with this then please read this entry before going any further. I stupidly said that was fine with that. Had I known that what would then come out of my mouth would become increasingly American with each line, I would probably have politely declined. Amazingly Welsh didn't seem to feature at all. Maybe I'm finally improving. Or maybe I've just lost the one accent that I thought I could actually do. We then quickly moved on from this character to a 15 year old girl. For god's sake. Do they realise that I turn 28 soon and just want to taunt me with increasingly younger roles? Fine. This one's from a council estate and very much into using slang. Oh good. As I read through the scene it all seemed OK, the dialogue was quite nice until the very end when my character suddenly breaks into a rather sexually explicit rap. By this time, the next actor had walked in so this poor man had to sit ten feet away from me while I rapped about wanting a well-endowed man to...well, you can probably figure that one out for yourself. If you're out there actor man, I'm very sorry for ruining what was probably quite a nice Monday so far.

I hear back from them later in the week. If my lack of geographical knowledge, embarrassingly poor grasp of accents and sorrowful attempts at rapping don't put them off then I intend to set up my own drama school where the main lesson will be how to turn awful auditions into amusing blogs. The School For The Woefully Inept.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lost In The Post

We’re told on an almost daily basis that we need to be doing all we can to be saving the planet. We should all be sharing baths with our loved ones, stepping out and getting into our second hand jumpers and then sitting down to a meal made solely from the vegetables from the garden. We recycle everything that we possibly can, we struggle to read under our energy saving light bulbs and our meticulously insulated homes are full of canvas shopping bags.

This planet may have its flaws and sometimes it gets things wrong. Earthquakes and tsunamis are when the world gets it totally wrong and those are the days when you wonder what on earth it was thinking. But look outside your window. It’s lovely out there. Even if you’re looking out on the most horrific view in the world, I bet there’s one nice thing out there. A tree. A flower. A bird. A crisp packet floating in the breeze. So I think we all agree that we need to keep this lovely little planet of ours safe. Kicking it when it’s down and taking the idea of ‘landfill sites’ literally ain’t the way.
So why do some agencies still insist on being contacted by post? In this modern age, so many of us are constantly attached to our inboxes. They’re in our pockets and in our handbags. They sit by us at night while we’re sound asleep and they’re in our hands when we call loved ones, take photos of funny shaped strawberries and drunkenly text old friends at 3am. Even if I didn’t have a phone that can do everything and more, I can access a computer that performs all the same actions on a bigger screen. Being contacted through these glorious machines is the best thing since that clever person decided that Kit Kats needed to be bigger. It’s so quick it’s frightening. When you post something to someone, how surprised are you when it arrives the next day? Imagine if that happened with an email? If someone doesn’t reply to my pointless electronic messages after 10 minutes then I start to suspect that the whole Internet is broken. And it’s efficient. If halfway through an email I use the wrong word, my mind distracted by what’s going on around me, I can just press that gorgeous little delete button and no one need ever know. Do that in a letter and you either have to try and find that bottle of Tippex that you bought 10 years ago, only to find that it is all dried up and useless, you have to cross it out and get annoyed at the constant flaw in your written art or you have to start all over again. None of these options are useful. They’re irritating and time-consuming. 

I can only imagine that agents and the like really enjoy receiving post. I have to admit that my heart skips a little beat when I see a hand-written envelope lying in the hallway. Instantly you want to know what it is and who it’s from. The joy that someone has taken the time to actually write something is just wonderful. When I was younger, my friends and I used to constantly write to each other. Pointless ramblings on pretty paper. Little in-jokes encased in brightly coloured envelopes. But I’m sure that agents know that every brown or white hard backed envelope contains a black and white 10’x8’ photograph and CV poorly designed in Word. Much like how we start to recognise certain bills by the colour of their envelope, agents must recognise the familiar A4 offerings. Then there’s the effort of opening the damn thing, rifling through the bits of paper and then said bits of paper need to be sent back with a note on why they’re not interested. An email can be filed away, responded to at the click of a button with a standard response and then deleted, never to be seen again. 

Yes, I realise that my laptop uses up energy while it’s plugged in but surely that doesn’t destroy the planet anywhere near as much as me sending out 100 letters to agents to tell them that I feature in the background reading a flyer in a student film. And it’s not just the paper involved. It’s the printing for my headshots. It’s the ink cartridges that my printer gets through quicker than I do crisps. It’s the postman driving them to the sorting depot thing and them then being sent back out to be delivered. All that energy wasted into one letter that at best will be looked at by an assistant and will then be flung back in the post with a little scribbled compliment slip enclosed. And that’s if the thing even arrives in the first place rather than being hoarded by some postman who has a penchant for other people’s mail. No polar bear will ever be harmed by an email.

And then there’s the receiving of the rejection letter. With a knockback email, you get the little rush of excitement when you see it pop up in your inbox but as soon as you’ve scanned the message, seen the words ‘thank you’ ‘unfortunately’ ‘at this time’ then you know you can just delete it and never have to look at it again. But with a letter you get that initial thrill when the envelope slides through your letter box. It takes time to open it with your jittery hands. You read the letter to find that they’re not interested so you throw it away. You put it in the bin but it’s still there. It will lie there, crumpled up but still staring at you. Taunting you until you can finally pluck up the energy to take the rubbish/recycling/pile of stuff on your floor outside and out of sight. 

It’s now got to the point where I’m reluctant to contact an agent if they only accept postal submissions. So listen up, agents. Your environmentally unfriendly ways means you’re missing out on being contacted by a slightly bitter and ranty actress. Ah. Maybe don’t go changing your policies just yet then…

Friday, 21 October 2011

Ain't Nothing But A Number

I think we all had a good chuckle at this news story over the last couple of days. Could someone really be so protective over their date of birth and could they really claim that it could jeopardise the possibility of them getting work in the future?

The debate over ageism within the acting industry is an age-old one and I think women in particular feel victimised. It's easy to feel that as you get older, all the younger actresses, looking gorgeous, youthful and eager, are coming in and snatching the jobs away. But surely they can only take the jobs that are applicable to them? The problem lies with the writers and producers and directors who insist on only writing parts for those under 25 and then maybe adding in an older man for good measure. I'm only just out of the 'young' age bracket and I get a little annoyed so I'm sure my frustration is only set to increase with age as I feel the little pool of parts I can apply for get smaller and smaller.

I can possibly understand why this woman might be annoyed as in the acting world, your actual age really has very little relevance to the roles you play. As long as you look like you can play the part then really that's all that matters. Who cares if you're 50? If you can still realistically play a 30 year old the the date on your birth certificate is utterly irrelevant. And I've never been in the casting seat but I'm pretty sure a casting director would look at the actor's headshot first and make their decision from that whether they think they could possibly play the part they're casting for. I'm fairly certain they don't get their calculator out and start working out whether or not their date of birth means that they could possibly play a 25 year old shop assistant. Thankfully, with the exception of one casting site, we're allowed to keep ourselves open to all roles and use our initiative as to whether we feel we can legitimiately play a role.

However, this doesn't mean that we always end up playing the ages that we should be and I've often found myself potraying characters in a completely different generation to mine. Most memorable was for a play I was in a few years ago. A child, despite having no lines, was a major part of the final scene and three young boys from local schools had been brought in to play the part during our three week run. However, because they were unable to attend our rehearsals which primarily took part in the coldest room in the whole of London during the day, I found myself, as the youngest looking member of the cast, standing in for this part. This was all fine until it was decided that on press night, it would be far better for me to play the role as the director was worried that the boys would get stage fright on such an important evening. It was ignored that kids are far more professional at these types of things and will just generally get on with it while the adults are all stressing about whether their hair looks alright and if they've done enough background work on their character. The show turned out to be amazing and by the end of the three weeks, we had a play that was getting amazing reviews and was selling out every night. But this press night was terrible. On two separate occassions, two actors found themselves in the unenviable position of being victim to wardrobe malfunctions and were on stage with their trousers round their ankles. Cues were missed, there were three separate moments of corpsing, I had to play the whole of my biggest scene facing upstage as the actor I was on with seemed to completely forget everything he'd ever known and we discovered that the giant piece of material at the back of the stage that was meant to mask us was almost entirely see-through. Then add to this, during a very naturalistic play, at the most critical and emotional point moment of the last 2 hours, a 26 year old woman wearing a skirt because her trousers had been picked up by another actor by accident, comes on pretending to be an 8 year old boy. It's safe to say that the magic of theatre was well and truly destroyed that night.

Today I've found just one part that I can actually apply for due to either being too old or too young. If you need me, I'll be the one underneath that pile of age-defying moisturiser...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pot Luck Audition

Today I failed on the most basic of levels. In the world of acting I was given a one-way, VIP ticket to the top of the failure pile. I was ushered past all your hard-working, diligent actors who are all wandering around somewhere near the pile. Security whisked me past you all and carried me right to the top where I could relax and think about my record-breaking failure attempt.

But how did I get to this point I hear you all ask? (don't worry, I've got a microphone set up in your room, I don't have supersonic hearing.) Well, let's start at the beginning of this poorly written tale. Our story begins yesterday when Miss L was informed that the lovely agency didn't want to take them on. Apparently, it wasn't me, it was them and they just wanted to see other people. I'll admit now that I was upset, especially as I didn't have any auditions lined up. It all suddenly looked a bit bleak and I only have my sparse CV to keep me warm. In a desperate attempt to try and cheer myself up, I decided to trawl through the day's casting calls to see what was on offer. It's safe to say that they weren't good. Out there at the moment is an advert that ask for women who can jog graciously (nope, not gracefully but graciously. And no, I have no idea how you might tackle this either. I can only presume that you have to look delighed that someone has allowed you the dubious pleasure of being out jogging.) Another is casting the role of a middle-aged woman. No harm in that, you might think. However, they are asking for actresses aged between 25 and 40. Since when did any of those ages count as middle-aged? I'm very nearly 28 and still only just getting over no longer being in the 16-25 age bracket so to suddenly find that I'm now half way through my life is quite the blow.

Doom and gloom decided it was time to move in. They were just rearranging the furniture when my phone rang. It was a mobile number that flashed up beautifully on the screen. Scurrying to the only point in the flat where I seem to be able to get reception, I answered eagerly. I caught the words 'casting' 'free' and 'tomorrow.' I fired out the word 'yes' wherever I thought appropriate. And suddenly, after a few requests for repitition due to poor reception, I was attending a casting the next day. There were a few instructions as to what I needed to wear and that was it. T (he be the boyfriend) asked what it was for. I honestly had no idea. I think it was said somewhere near the beginning but I'd asked the poor woman so many times to repeat various details that I felt I couldn't possibly ask any more of her. Anyway, I was sure that a quick look through my submissions over the last week would shed some light. Frantically I trawled through everything I'd applied for this month and nothing seemed to fit. I hadn't even caught the woman's name. The only bit of concrete evidence I had that this audition actually existed was the woman's mobile number. A search of this brought up a Facebook group asking for numbers and this woman appeared to be a singer based in the south-west in 2008. Accepting defeat, I realised I'd just have to wait and see. An acting lucky dip, if you like.

So this morning I headed off. I got down there early and practically ran to the casting, eager to find out what on earth it was for. I practically snatched the forms from the receptionist and even when I saw the company (a well-known food brand if you must know) I was still none the wiser. I honestly had no recollection of applying for this. It seemed the acting gods had finally started listening to my pleas and were now doing my work for me. So I filled out the forms, giving details of every second of my little life over the past few years. I was then called in with three other actors and we were asked to perform the dreaded 'improvised scene.' I've seen what the advert will be and this scene will probably make up 2 seconds of a 30 second long advert. The camera will skim over this handful of characters, barely allowing the viewer to register their existence. However, we were asked to enter a 3 minute long improvisation where we played around with a disappointing array of props. We hadn't been asked to do this in silence but two of the actors seemed to think that this was best while another actress and myself gabbled away, desperately trying to make the most of this awful mime that we'd found ourselves trapped in. Minute after agonising minute passed as we all repeated the same movements over and over again until we were finally released back out in the lovely world where they gloriously allow you to interact normally.

This afternoon I found that unfortunately the acting gods haven't quite taken me on yet and I actually applied for the role just over a month ago. I still have no memory of this. I quite like this pot luck approact to auditions. Here's to hoping that I've been unconciously applying for other roles and the castings start flooding in...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


For today, I could very easily just copy and paste last week's The Waiting Game entry. My avid one follower will know that I met with an agent on Friday and that I was told that I'd be hearing back from them on Monday. Well, reader, I can tell you now that I still haven't heard anything back. I've given my phone lingering glances and I've stared longingly at my email but it seems that both are spoken for and neither is giving anything up. I've now become an expert at clicking 'refresh' and I'm sure I'm hitting the illegal limit for checking that my phone is on. Still nothing. Thankfully I've spent much of today on my own so I haven't been able to annoy anyone with having one eye constantly on my phone. My constant scuttling back to it when I try and be disciplined by using The Watched Pot method would try the patience of the saintliest of saints who has been granted his third sainthood.

I'm not sure what the etiquette is when you've been told to expect to hear from someone about something on a certain day. Do you just wait it out and spend the rest of your days snatching your phone the second it makes a noise and find yourself close to tears when it's just another voucher deal email? Or do you give them a quick nudge and run the risk of receiving a rejection email which basically tells you what you already know anyway? So far I've decided to wait it out. I'm already pestering my phone every other second. If I fire off an email then I'm doubling my inpatience by then giving myself yet another thing to wat for. My current thoughts are that if they were interested then they'd most certainly be in touch. Today, no news is bad news.

I hoped to be able to distract myself today by applying for lots and lots of lovely work. Today I decided I wasn't going to be picky about what I put myself up for. As long as I was suitable for the role and I was available on the dates given then I'd put myself up for it. But sadly I've chosen the 'Lets get men, children and anyone who lives anywhere other than London into acting day.' Of course. The one day I want to be productive, the world decides that it doesn't want to play ball. Yeah, my catching and throwing ain't what it should be but give a uncoordinated girl a break.

So, because I still haven't perfected the art of turning myself into a man or a child, or even a manchild, I have dedicated today to some of the most dubious of casting calls out there. Despite the sheer nature of acting and how public it is, the world of casting calls is a largely unmonitored one. Teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime. Teach a director to use a casting website and you'll be subjected to some of the most alarming adverts since Go Compare. Previous delights have been a photographer who was advertising for a personal project to boost his portfolio. Let's call him Alan. It was bad enough that he asked for models to be naked except for a mask but to then call the project 'Alan's Pictures'? I fear for the models who end up in Alan's 'special' file on his computer, only ever opened after dark and hastily closed should any unsuspecting friend or family member enter the room. Then there was the character description that asked for 'A typically pretty, girl next door type. We're not looking for the hottest.' If you're down on your looks and don't fancy an ego boost any time soon then this is almost certainly the job to apply for...and then probably get turned down when they choose the hottest girl that applied.

However, today's funniest has been the casting that asked applicants be happy to be filmed stepping out of a shower, ensuring them that their 'nibbles' would be covered. Yes, I'm a child. Ooo, so I have perfected the art of turning myself into a child. Step aside everyone, I've got castings to apply for!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Secret Agent

When at drama school, the talk for most of the three years based around getting an agent. When you're training, you think it's the most important thing since they sliced bread and they realised they could make much money out of it. Being agentless seemed like the worst thing on Earth. Those who didn't get interest in the third year were pitied and whispered about. Gossip spread backstage behind curtains and was discussed in dressing room mirrors. How could they possibly work without someone being in charge of their careers? Surely their three years had been spent in vain and they would just be aimlessly wandering the streets, their character shoes worn through and their copy of Contacts in tatters.

Of course, I've since learnt that not having an agent isn't the worst thing in the world. I had sadly pitched up in the 'any agent is better than no agent' camp when I left and therefore signed up with the first one that was interested. Had someone warned me that they would go months without getting in touch, that they'd shout at me when I wasn't available to go to a casting with an hour's notice and that they'd repeatedly put me up for the part of an extra then I'd have run for the hills. I'd have never gone to the meeting where we discussed my bra size for far too long and instead I'd have run off with my awful headshot in one hand (it caused someone to liken me to a pigeon) and my desperately sparse CV in the other. My agent was terrible. He had the thickest Northern Irish accent that the world will ever know which meant I repeatedly misheard what I was going up for. He never listened when I said I didn't want to be an extra and over the course of three years, he managed to secure me two jobs. Nearly all the work I did was found by myself so he was basically pointless. The day we finally parted ways was more joyous than you can imagine.

I've always been quite happy finding my own work. I can be completely in control of what I do and I know that I won't have an audition suddenly sprung upon me. However, my desire to spend my life doing student films is low and that means finding someone who can give you a leg up so you can struggle up to the next rung of this very slippery ladder. So, today I went for a meeting with an agency. And bloody lovely they were too. The journey there was far from perfect and went along in normal Miss L fashion. I was first nearly killed by a falling suitcase at Highgate station. Then, around the corner from the office, I was forced to make the choice of running under a cascade of water due to industrial window-cleaning or to dash out in front of constant speeding buses and lorries (the option to the cross the road was also present but we'll ignore that one.) Once I safely arrived at the office we had a 10-15 minute chat about what I was looking to do and what they could offer, I performed a monologue (this was my modern speech as requested, I didn't just suddenly launch into a lecture on the rights of women in the 1800s) and then we parted ways. I now have to wait until Monday to hear whether they're still interested which will mean I can basically write-off Monday as I spend every other second checking my phone, email and making sure that they work.

I came away from the meeting suddenly feeling very positive about having someone to look after me a little bit. The idea of being completely independent and in control of your career is a lovely notion but having someone to hold your hand as they deal with the big kids in the playground is a far nicer prospect. Hopefully my hand won't be empty for too much longer.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cutting It Short

So, following on from yesterday's entry, I finally heard back from the hapless students to say that they'd like to see me for an audition today. I mean, they wanted to see me tomorrow when they contacted me but now it's today and today is the day I saw understand, right? If not, the short answer is that I saw them today. Anyway, it seemed that someone was listening to all my bitching and moaning about waiting as they said they wanted to see me at 8am. Yep. AM. Not pm, the time when most people are out and about and functioning but AM. The time when all the good people of the world are still, at the very most, lounging around in their pyjamas and wondering what they're going to do with their day. They're not racing into town to audition for an unpaid student film.

I realise this sounds massively lazy and diva-like of me to say this but is anyone really at their best at 8am? When I used to work, my shift started at 8am so I'm perfectly capable of dragging myself out of my cosy little bed when it's still dark and forcing myself to face the world at a time when it really shouldn't be seen. However, that job just required me to hide behind a computer, play around with Excel spreadsheets and be shouted at by customers with a job lot of both time and money on their hands. No one there would be offended by my bleary-eyed, wild-haired early morning look. A camera, on the other hand, does not need to see me in pre-breakfast fashion. It causes lenses to crack and microphones to shudder. So I asked for another time slot and, god bless their little student loan funded socks, they gave me one a few hours later.

So off I went this morning. Note to self: if you're going to ask for a later time slot, don't then turn up late. Yes, it was the fault of the ever-faithful Northern line which, very much like my laptop, manages to run at its slowest when I really need to it be running at its quickest.  Thankfully, I was greeted by the most lovely group of students you could probably ever hope to meet. Despite the nagging feeling in the back of my head that I was probably old enough to be their great grandmother, I had a grand ol' time chatting away to them and working on the script. They were friendly, intelligent and a lot of fun. They seemed to like what I was doing with the script but for some reason my brain wasn't quite grasping what they were asking me to do. We ran through one of the sections of dialogue, they then directed me a bit and asked me to do it again. One of the directions they gave me was to add a bit more sarcasm to one of the lines. Surely that should be easy. When no one wants sarcasm, I bring it to the yard in a flash like an uninvited flasher. So when someone asks for it, why are both my brain and mouth both refusing to co-operate? Why are they similarly struggling with the terms 'confident', 'hesitant' and 'dismissive?' These are all terms that I understand and practice on a daily basis so why isn't it quite working? . We did a few more sections from the script and although it all felt 'OK', there was a horrible feeling that it all wasn't just quite good enough. Sadly, I just think there are days when your body just has other plans for the day and god help anyone who tries to add an amendment to their itinerary

And the battle for work continues. Or it would if I'd actually applied for anything today. Maybe I should just hire myself out to students who fancy practicing barking simple orders at weak and feeble actors and watching them squirm under the very little pressure put upon them. Could be quite the little money-making scheme. Or at the very least it might bring me up to speed with the rest of the world and finally teach me how to deal with the most basic of commands.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Waiting Game

When you're self-employed, there's a whole lot of waiting going on. Of course, you try and do as much work as possible but ultimately, your ability to work lies in the hands of others. Hands that often have much better things to be doing and probably twiddle their thumbs for quite a considerable amount of time before they pick up a phone or laptop and decide they want to get in touch with you. I'm fairly sure that being self-employed means that you're meant to be your own boss but I feel like my career is at the mercy of others more than ever before.

I applied for a student film the other day and almost instantly received a reply back to say that they would send a script across within the next hour. Excellent. Suddenly my rather empty and bare looking day was starting to look like it was bearing unpaid and slightly unfulfilling fruit. So I waited. And then I waited some more. Finally I waited further to wait even more. And after all this waiting, still nothing appeared. Three days it took for the script to get to me. Now I'm a patient and understanding sort (unless public transport is involved) and I realise that things can crop up which can cause unforseen delays. I also understand that students need to learn and that if you put yourself up for a film made by university students who are still floudering somewhere in the depths of the learning curve then things may not always run smoothly. However, I'm pretty sure it doesn't take three days to attach a script to an email. Or have I been doing attachments all wrong? Because of this delay, I've been given 24 hours notice for the casting which is supposedly tomorrow. Now I'm totally free tomorrow but they don't know that. For all they know, I could be the busiest bee in the hive who has just received a massive honey order. Lucky for them that I only have tea drinking, cereal eating and general moping about in pyjamas pencilled in for tomorrow.

I should be used to the whole waiting thing by now. A few years ago I was contacted about a feature film which looked properly exciting. The director contacted me in the afternoon to see if I was available that evening for a casting. I said that I was and he said he was just arranging where to hold it and that he'd be in touch as soon as possible to let me know. Excellent. I hurriedly got myself ready, rifled through my wardrobe to get the perfect outfit and then I waited. Oh how I waited. I waited until it was impossible to wait anymore. By now it was nearly 9pm and it looked like I wasn't going to hear anything. I tried calling the director back but there was no answer. I texted and emailed to check that everyhing was ok but still nothing. Finally I de-make-upped myself, got back into my pyjamas and figured it just wasn't meant to be. Two days later I finally got an email from the director to say that they had found another actress who they felt was more suitable for the role so they would no longer be needing to see me. There was a brief 'sorry for not getting back to you the other evening' type sentence and then that was it. Apparently making someone wait around for hours until you click your fingers and beckon them across London is totally normal. However, I wasn't then aware that there was a further slap in the face to come. About four months later I get an email from the director out of the blue to say that a role had become available in the film and he wondered whether I could speak perfect 'Fusha' which is basically modern standard Arabic. As I've stated in this blog before, I don't know why directors think I would keep the fact that I speak another language a well-guarded secret. I explained that unfortunately I couldn't and I then received an email telling me how disappointing that news was and how I was almost definitely losing jobs because of it. And then on top of that, I received a full-on berating of my choice of headshot. Thanks. Thanks very much.

But at least most of this waiting was conducted in the comfort of my own home. Waiting at a casting is a million times worse. I went up for an advert casting a while ago and they'd asked people to turn up anytime between 2 and 5pm. Naturally, most people arrived at 2pm and there was already about 50 people there when I arrived. The casting was a pretty quick affair but unfortunately there was a powercut after the second or third person had gone in. The casting director halted proceedings, had a full-blown argument with the poor girl on reception and the builders outside who had caused the loss of power and while all this is going on, even more unsuspecting actors are arriving until the waiting room is just a sea of well-groomed bodies. It took two and a half hours to be seen, in that time we had all spoken, asked each other almost every question possible, discussed every topic available and exhausted conversation so much that a stony silence descended back on the room. When work is so scarce, walk-outs are a rarity at an audition. However, at this one, I'm pretty sure the god of acting work looked down on us that day for sticking around.

So, even after writing this blog, I'm still waiting to hear about this damn film. My bedroom has become a waiting room and Doctor Theatre does not have room for me today.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Charity Hilarity

In this un-saving-life job that we do, it's always heart-warming when you can actually do something which might save a life or two. Yep, you can take comfort from the fact that your performance might just entertain someone for a few minutes and let them forget about all the other life-saving duties they have to attend to in the other thousand or so minutes in their day but they will go back to their normal lives and your little stint as a mouse will just become a footnote in their biography. Although we can give people a little respite in their daily lives (unless your performance/show is so dire that you just make them grateful that they're not you) ultimately the world goes on and the way in which you portrayed a gay man will never alter someone's course. Having said that, my 3 month stint of playing a gay man was so awful that I'm sure it made some people reassess their sexuality.

Yesterday I went down to the Block the Bridge, Block the Bill protests on Westminter Bridge to try and stop the NHS reforms. If you don't know much about it then I urge you to read this article which explains things better than I ever could. I'm not a huge protester (they often happen at the weekend and therefore usually clash with a hot date I've got lined up with my duvet, kettle and a family bag of crisps) but the NHS means a lot to me as my mum has been employed by them for most of my life and also the boyfriend was performing at the protest. A gorgeous handful of comedians and musicians performed to do what they could to try and stop these terrible changes happening to one of the most precious things that this country has (it's not quite as precious as my Elmo toy but y'know, it's close) and it was so encouraging to see a group of people take time out and use their skills to try and make a difference. It was a most excellent day with no violence and I really hope that it can help in some way to save this most precious commodity.

I've done a couple of things in my chequered acting past which I hope have made the slightest bit of difference but sadly the opportunities are few and far between and unfortunately the heart-warming glow that I should've come away with hasn't always been there. A few years ago I filmed a commercial for a particular UK wide charity run for cancer where I had to pretend to be one of the runners for their TV and print campaigns. This may have felt like a worthwhile job if we hadn't been filming during one of the real runs where thousands of people were doing the run for real. They were running for real and legitimate reasons while we were there pretending to be running for pretend loved ones. So instead of feeling like I was making a difference, I felt like a fraud as I posed on the start line looking ready to run for a good cause. I then waited for everyone to race off and then sauntered to the finish line to pretend that I'd actually achieved something. But of course, my cold, empty heart would be warmed up by the fact that this advert would encourage thousands of people to enter the race and raise money to help fight this disease. Or at least it would've done if the advert had ever aired. Best put some more anti-freeze on the ol' ticker.

The other way in which an actor can at least attempt to make a difference is through TIE. This was the first job that I did on leaving drama school and was probably the best thing I could've done as if there's another job that can bring an actor back down to earth then I've yet to encounter it. Horribly early mornings, confusing drives to schools in the middle of nowhere and then soul-destroying performances to kids that really wish you weren't there. The play I was in was about the dangers of heroin and of all the TIE plays I've encountered, it was probably one of the best written. I played a 9 year old girl who was soon to turn 10 and she gets a grim look into her heroin-filled future. This play should've been an amazing opporunity to educate children about the horrors of drugs and even though it may have made a few of them think, I imagine most were quite indifferent to our slightly patronising ramblings. We went to schools that required us to walk through metal detectors and be body searched and we were told by teachers to keep our belongings on us at all times, even during performances. I'm fairly sure me skipping about in a flouncy white party dress as other actors took part in a 'rave' would just encourage these kids to turn to drugs. I was often heckled the second I walked on stage and although a handful of kids seemed genuinely interested, most shows went down like a lead-filled lead balloon which is tied up with lead string.

I think we were meant to take comfort from the fact that even if we saved just one child then our efforts were completely worthwhile. However, for each child saved, I'm fairly sure another actor was pushed to the brink and forced to seek solace from various vices. Oh well, I'm sure killing off a few actors is worth it if we're saving the adults of tomorrow. It frees up some of the acting work if nothing else and ultimately, isn't that what we're all striving for?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Proactively Acting

We were often reminded at drama school how lucky we were to be there. How we had been picked over the countless other individuals who had applied and that we should never take our coveted positions for granted. I'm sure much of this was propaganda to stop us from complaining when we had to do another class on the sound of the letter 'e' (I often wonder if my drama school is otherwise known as the Sesame Street Academy) and ensure that we didn't just use Alexander Technique classes as a chance to sleep off our hangover. I once remember reading that based on applications made to the number of spaces available, getting into an accredited drama school is more competitive than getting into Oxbridge. This type of statistic horrifies me because not only am I very uncompetitive but it really shouldn't be harder to get into somewhere that teaches you how to accurately portray a cow than somewhere that teaches you how to single-handedly save the world (I assume this is all they teach there...)

However, once you've been through drama school you realise that it's the bit on the other side that's the tough part. And this wonderful article in The Guardian yesterday explains this better than I ever could. I firmly believe that drama schools do need to do more to prepare their students for the outside world. Apart from one particular drama school, I think the rest are guilty of making their students believe that the path of a graduated thesp are paved with castings, auditions and roles galore. Of course it's not. It's bloody tough and unless you land yourself with a damn good agent, you walk out feeling as alone as The Lone Ranger after being dumped the day before Valentine's Day. Most drama school students have very little experience of the acting industry and you're therefore lead to believe that some big casting director in the sky will wave their magic wand on the day you leave and that the rest of your life will be  a whirlwind of West End shows, independent films and BAFTA winning TV appearances. No one explains that the experience for most actors is that you'll feel lucky when a student who is younger than you offers you three lines in their 10 minute film in return for a bag of crisps and a cup of tea (to be fair, I will do most things for crisps and tea.) After a few months of emailing yourself, checking your voicemail constantly and having a morning battle with your postman, you realise that in fact that they're all functioning normally and it's just you that isn't working. Although I should add that not long after graduating, my voicemail stopped working for about two weeks. It miraculously started working again and I found, amongst the countless messages from friends asking if I was going out that night/where did I fancy meeting that night/where did I disappear to at the end of the night, a message offering me what would have been my first professional role. The date for the job had been and gone by this point and a lifetime's supply of swears was dispatched in 5 seconds flat.

But the truth is that drama schools need to be realistic with their students. Just because it's always been well documented that there's a lack of work out there doesn't mean that that's a legitimate excuse to thrust their graduates, shaking and clueless, in the big bad world of unemployment. Surely there should be an emphasis on teaching actors to add more strings to their poorly working one-stringed bow. The skills to write, direct and produce have become just as important now if you decide that you can wait no longer for the magic job fairy to come knocking at the door and therefore need to start making your own work. Sadly the year I left drama school, there was very much a feel of 'screw you guys, I'm off to make myself famous and I look forward to trampling on all of you while I'm at it.' And while that competitive spirit is partly necessary, it also makes you a horrible human being and has actually lead to a lot of my year falling by the wayside and were left flailing around in the ditches of the acting industry. Now this could of course be more down to my particular year (which was so combative that stage fighting classes were almost deemed unnecessary) but not once during our training were we encouraged to get out there and do our own thing. We were never told that we could create our own work and were instead taught that we were precious, talented beings who would be constantly fought over.

Of course, writing this blog should mean that I'm now myself encouraged to get out and create my own work. But then there's also the chance that my big break is just around the corner so there's no need. Let me just check my email's working one more time...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Temporary Measures

Today I sold my soul to the devil. Today I dragged myself out of bed at an ungodly hour (it was so early that I had to set an alarm) and hauled my tea and sleep deprived body into 'town.' Dressed all smart like, I got to spend an hour this morning pretending to be just like everyone else who actually does a proper job for a living. Like the dullest undercover spy that there ever was, I sat with my book on the bus and looked exactly like all the other people who get paid to do things. I bet they all thought I was going off to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay but like the amazing secret agent that I am, I wasn't. I was going to sign up to a temping agency.

After nearly two months of living in denial, existing on the scraps of currency that were found in my bank/purse/sofa, I finally had to face up to the fact that I will need to work if I want to continue living off more than thin air. So off I went ready to sign my life away to the world of work while I pointlessly explained to some unsympathetic being about how I really want to make a career out of hanging around theatres and film sets. But how wrong I was. I was instead faced with a lovely person who totally understood what I wanted (apparently I'm not the first and only person in the world who wants both money and their dream job) and they'll let me earn some cash when I'm not prancing off to auditions, actually doing some acting work or in desperate need of a lie-in.

But don't worry. just because Miss L has now entered the corporate world, this doesn't mean that clumsiness and stupidity don't rule the day. I managed to stand by the front door to the office for nearly five minutes, buzzing up to reception because the door didn't open. It's only when someone else walked straight in that I realised both my feeble arms and inability to complete simple tasks were in charge yet again. I also managed to knock the numerous forms that I was supposed to fill out from the hands of the receptionist and sent them cascading across the office floor. I think you'll agree that I set quite the professional imperssion when I enter a room. However, I'm pretty sure that I aced the spelling test (it's spelt 'compewtur' right?) and I managed to continue with the typing test when I realised that I was typing up a piece about how insecure the job market is and how you need to ensure that you're doing something that you love. As texts go, I'm fairly sure this isn't the most inspiring to have when you're sat in a very artificially lit, cramped room typing away to get money because the job you really want won't give you a penny.

So now I've doubled my disappointment when my phone doesn't ring. Now there will be days when even more people realise they don't require my services and even more industries decide they'd rather have nothing to do with me. Or maybe it'll be the other way round and I'll find that everyone discovers that they all need a piece of Miss L. I'll be so in demand that I'll top the 'Most Wanted' charts. Maybe.

Check back tomorrow for a guaranteed entry inspired by neediness, desperation and an empty purse.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Minority Report

Despite saying the other day that I really didn't enjoy getting up on my high horse when it comes to race and prejudice, I'm afraid to say that I've been forced to saddle up again.

I was all set to write another entry about me falling over/tripping up/falling over after tripping up when I came across this article:

This saddens me greatly because although I understand that the intentions behind it are admirable, this really isn't the way to ensure that those from an 'ethnic minority' are fairly represented on stage and screen. I completely agree that there needs to be greater diversity in the races that we see in our theatres, cinemas and televisions and although some of the problem lies with those who sit firmly within the creative thrones, much rests on the fact that drama school has very much become  a privilege for those that have the funds and support available.

The fact that someone feels it necessary to have a school dedicated to the needs of those from an ethnic minority makes me angrier than an angry bird because not only does it show what a sorry state the world of acting is in but surely a dedicated school just creates further barriers. If a child as young as six is attending classes that have been specifically set up for people of a certain race, what example does that set? Surely the child just feels more alienated from the outside world and is lead to believe that instead of getting out there and being proud of their heritage, allowances need to be made because of the colour of their skin. I can't help but feel that this money would've been much better spent being put into communities to encourage those children who do have a natural talent or genuine interest in the arts that they can actually do something with that ambition and can at least attempt to have the career they want (let's not get ahead of ourselves...although we can strive for better racial equality, the lack of jobs ain't ever gonna change...) Children should grow up believing that the country their parents were born in has absolutely no bearing on what they want to do with their life. Instead it seems like this school will segregate these children further and make them feel like there are barriers put up before they've even had a chance to encounter them.

The founder has stated that the school would be open to everyone but with the name 'The Academy of Asian and Ethnic Dramatic Arts' surely they are just creating their own 'ethnically exlcusive' industry. Just as they feel that the acting industry isn't as welcoming to those from a minority, by giving themselves such a specific name, they are instantly alienating those who don't fall under it. Wouldn't it be a whole lot nicer if money could be put into educating all areas of the acting spectrum so that instead of being this exclusive society, the acting world can be open to everyone regardless of their background? Surely integration is the much stronger tool that needs to be used here to make sure that there are absolutely no barriers in the way when a child expresses an interest in being a tree?

This is in no means an attack on the enterprising soul who has decided to set up this academy. I fully commend his intentions and hopefully the fact that he has to do this will just show the industry that more can be done. I also realise that I was very lucky when growing up as I was taught that I could achieve anything (apart from the sad day at the age of 5 when I realised that no matter how many Maltesers I ate, I'd never walk up walls) and I understand that not all children are that fortunate. But maybe we should be tackling the problems face on rather than implementing changes that could potentially make the problem worse. Or maybe I should just keep quiet and keep all the jobs for myself...

Monday, 3 October 2011


I've never been one for accents. I mean, in my head I am. In my head I'm pitch perfect but I realise that in reality, most accents I attempt will mainly come out sounding Welsh. Actually, that's not true because then that would mean that I do a good Welsh accent and I really don't. The only accent I can do well is my own and even that I can fluff up on a regular basis.

I was watching Nowhere Boy last night on TV and was astonished at the appalling accents. Now, John Lennon and I never had the pleasure of meeting before but I'm pretty sure he had a fairly strong Scouse accent, or even if it wasn't strong, I'm sure I've seen clips of him talking and I could tell what part of the country he was from. The accent in the film was totally baffling, it seemed to go to Liverpool via London, Dublin and New York with a quick stopover in Cardiff. Now Mr Lennon was a talented fellow but I'm fairly sure he wasn't capable of speaking in five accents all at the same time. However, Lennon's mother was even more confusing. We spent much of the 45 minutes (we couldn't cope watching past this) wondering where on earth she was from. Despite the fact that she had a considerable amount of dialogue in the film, a conclusion was never reached.

As I said before, accents are never going to be a great earner for me so I really shouldn't judge but I've never let that get in the way before so it certainly won't stop me now. There's no excuse for a poor accent. I find it more distracting than poor actimg and it's entirely unecessary. Unless someone is perfect at accents, then I see no reason for someone who is not from that region to be cast within the role. However, like the double-standard little thesp I am, that doesn't mean I'm not adverse to trying out an accent myself. Due to my 'funny colour' (see previous blog entry of a similar name) I often get asked to audition with a 'Middle Eastern' accent. I'm still not entirely sure what the accent should really sound like but this doesn't stop me from stating that I'm comfortable doing this. What often comes out of my mouth is some ugly little lovechild whose parents have travelled extensively around Wales, India, Australia, America and some countries that have yet to be discovered. What's even more worrying is that I've actually been cast on the back of these wild stabs in the dark. Either my meagre attempts are charming or I've been exceedingly lucky and have auditioned for only deaf or deluded casting directors.

For the mono-lingual accent, the worst is the surprise accent in an audition. If you know that an accent is going to be asked of you then at least you can practice a bit beforehand. I usually find myself making a vague attempt at the accent, realise I have no idea what I'm doing, try looking it up on YouTube, try copying them, fail and then get distracted by baby animals. But at least I've got some idea of what it should sound like. But the sudden request for an accent once you're in the audition is a horror. I had an audition a few years back for a character that they wanted to Mediterranean, but they weren't entirely sure which country. I was then asked to try out the script in Spanish, Italian and then in Portuguese. Now I've heard people from these countries and should someone speak to me in that accent, I'm pretty sure I'd recognise where they were from. But my voice box decided to deny all knowledge of these places and out came a sound not dissimilar to a confused Welsh person trying to go undercover in Russia. And that happened for each attempt, meaning that I managed to come across as a new form of racist, trying to show my feelings through the medium of accent. And yes, you're right to presume that I never heard anything back.

I don't have any auditions lined up this week so I should probably use this time to perfect my skills. I won't. Instead I'll just wait for the day it's decided that the whole human race should speak in a hack Welsh accent and then I'll wait for the job offers to come flooding in.