Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Whatever The Weather

Sometimes I appear to conspire against myself. Other times the outside world is completely against me. Some days, however, myself and the outside world like to club together and see just how difficult we can make things.

Today I had a meeting with an agent regarding potential representation. They'd sought me out so I was feeling particularly special and was massively excited about meeting them. I left the house this morning feeling pretty smug because I'd seen Twitter and everyone was saying how cold it was so I knew I had to wrap up warm. Apart from lacking a hat (don't want to go meeting an agent with 'hat hair') I was wearing the full works. If anything, I was a little warm when I stepped out of the house. As I skipped up the street, I noticed a few little snowflakes starting to flutter down. Hmmm. That was expected. But they were light and I was about to get on a bus and then straight on to a tube. By the time I got out on the other side they'd be as distant a memory as Keenan and Kel.

So, imagine my surprise when I step out of the tube station to find that first the snow has got heavier than ever and then, 30 seconds later, the snow turns to hail. A little annoying to say the least but no matter, at least I've got my umbre....hang on, where is it? Suddenly a slow motion flashback plays in my increasingly wet head as I watch myself putting my umbrella in a different bag. That different bag is all the way back in North London on my bed. So, all I have now to protect my now ruined hair (which was cut and wonderfully styled yesterday, of course) is my folder that is now clearly struggling to keep my CV and headshots dry. Do I succumb to the weather and just allow my hair to fulfil its destiny and finally become the ratty mophead that it wants to be or do I potentially ruin my CV and headshots which may be asked for in a few minutes time? Let's just say that I'm eternally thankful that they'd printed out my Spotlight CV and therefore needed nothing from me...

Normally I'd go on to write about how I managed to royally screw up the meeting but I'm surprised to say that it was all very lovely and it's very likely that I'll be a represented actress in the next few days. Unless, of course, they ask for me to send my CV and headshot in the post. In which case, normal woefully clumsy service will resume shortly.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Our brains will often turn against us. It's something you can understand. My mind puts up with a lot on a daily basis. I have filled it to the brim with pointless 90s Britpop trivia and 80s song lyrics. And then, on top of that, I'm constantly asking it where the next packet of crisps will be coming from and if it can drag out another amusing audition anecdote. So, I can't complain when it goes on strike. Those wonderful times on stage or in front of a camera where it just decides to have a little snooze. The times in an audition where it does a bit of cross-wiring and it feeds the wrong word to your mouth. That glorious moment when you're faced with someone whose face you recognise but their name is as familiar to you as quantum chromodynamics (nope, I've never heard of it either.) Those special little happenings are all when your brain is getting its own back on you. Just like you falling asleep during your friend's slideshow of their two years backpacking round Belgium, your brain needs to be a rude, charmless beast too sometimes.

But what excuse do clothes have? What stresses do they have to deal with? Ocassionally we might try and squeeze into them when we've clearly grown out of them. And sometimes we might tip a whole glass of red wine down them when we should really be heading home. But that's about it. Clothes at least get a rest. They get to curl up on the floor or hang sleepily once the day is over. Even pyjamas, the nightshift workers of the clothing world, get to laze around in bed all day.

So why do clothes feel the need to fight back sometimes? My first wardrobe calamity occurred during my second year of drama school. It was our first ever public performance as our flounces around a stage before that point weren't deemed worthy for the unsuspecting eyes of people who existed outside the drama school cocoon. We were all as highly strung as a guitar on Mount Everest and everyone wanted to make sure that it all went right. We were performing a musical and as I possessed the weakest singing voice in my year, I was given the only character who didn't have one sung line. This meant that I spent much of the first act backstage while everyone else got to prance around on stage setting up the story. The introduction to my character was right before the interval (presumably to give people a chance to escape after seeing me hamming it up) and I was wearing a dress almost entirely made up of strings of pearls. The scene I entered was one of four men sat around a poker table and all I had to do was walk around the table while making some dry remark about whether women were allowed to play. However, I only got as far as stepping on stage when a strand of pearls from my dress managed to intertwine themselves with one of the chairs meaning that I was stuck in a bungee run that was about as fun as Blackpool in January. Sadly I didn't realise what had happened until I suddenly unable to walk any further and then had to spend the rest of my scene desperately trying to untangle three feet of pearls behind my back. Exit pursued by a thousand pearls spinning across the stage.

Another awful moment was during a play I was in when I was in my first year out of drama school. The play was about the Iraq war and one of my characters was a young Iraqi girl who had been raped. I'd just been on stage where we discover that she has been brutally attacked and her mother desperately tries to come to terms with her daughter dying in front of her. For some reason, it had been decided that it would be best to drag me off stage. I can only presume that this made me look like a sack of potatoes in a pretty skirt but I was young and inexperienced and unaware it was ok to question these directorial decisions. However, I'd clearly not tied said pretty skirt tight enough one evening as, while being dragged off, I feel it coming undone very quickly. To add to this, whoever was in charge of the blackout (we were on such a low budget that we only had two lighting states: church hall lights or off and it was up to whoever wasn't on stage to do them) failed to flick the switch. So, our poor audience was subjected to the sight of my most childish knickers (they have elephants on) under very unforgiving striplights. It's a miracle no one asked for a full refund that night.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Remember Remember

I consider myself to be pretty damn good with names. Introduce yourself to me and it's likely that my little brain, which is generally only concerned about what my next meal will be, will note your name down and hand it to me discreetly the next time I need it. Of course, this method isn't foolproof and has lead me to constantly call someone Max for a whole day of rehearsals until they finally corrected me and told me they were actually called Matt. And I'm used to constantly being called the wrong thing. While not massively unusual, people struggle with the pronunciation of my name meaning that I get called all manner of things. I've described such occurences here so why not have a read of that rather than me going over the same old stuff again.

But why am I chattering on about this now? Well, today I had to go and do some ADR for a shoot I was part of last year. It's very close to being released and the director just needed to correct a few bits that oddly sounded like we'd temporarily submerged ourselves under litres of tar for certain lines. So off I went, not really considering that there might be any of the other actors there. But as I was just climbing into the director's car to be driven to the studio, I see one of the other actors coming out of the station. Avid readers will remember him as letchy Actor 1, a particularly troublesome being who was very much the down point for much of the shoot. I applied my fake smile, gave him an actor type hug and cheek kiss and it was only then that I realised I couldn't remember his name. I'd spent so much time referring to him as 'Letch' when discussing him that his real name had packed it's bags and flown away months ago without me even noticing.

Oddly, the deepest depths of my brain that is mainly reserved for 90s indie lyrics and people's birthdays who I don't even speak to anymore, had kept hold of just his surname. Great. I could sound like some old schoolmaster when talking to him. Thanks brain. Now thankfully, unless you need to introduce the person to someone else (and then, forgetting their name is hell on mouldy toast) so it wasn't too much of a problem. And all was resolved when the director finally slipped his name into conversation which I then followed up with that wonderful thing of dropping his name into every sentence until I left.

And a quick note about ADR...even if your Irish accent is pretty poor anyway, it's damn hard copying your awful attempts from two months ago. And I'm sorry to say that there is now a video out there of me breathing heavily into a microphone in a room full of men. Your eyes are no longer safe, people...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Actors Wanted

I find Gumtree an endless source of entertainment. Where else can you find an advert for someone genuinely looking for a flat in East Finchley just underneath someone's confession to the world that they are simply a liar (this is a true advert. I just saw it.) So I get a huge amount of pleasure searching for what people put up as 'acting' jobs on there.

Yesterday. while on one of these whims. I typed in the world 'actress' to see what jobs came up. I was expecting the usual short films, maybe a couple of local theatre groups looking for new members but I most certainly didn't expect to find this...


Putting aside the many questions I had whizzing around in my head (how nervous is she around her boyfriend? Who in their right mind would ever ask an actor to state their own fee? And most importantly...WHY?!) I mainly wondered if this is what people think actors do? Just because we're comfortable in becoming someone else for a few hours on stage or screen, do people think that we're happy to do this in real life? Surely this is the job of an escort? Or am I being an idiot and this is the best 'job on the side' an actor could dream of? I have to admit that I am hugely intruiged by the story behind this advert and it's taking a whole lot of willpower not to apply just to find out.

It did get me thinking though about how people perceive actors and what we're happy to do in real life. How many of us have been asked to approach someone just because we're performers and therefore we must be more outgoing? People will instantly presume that just because we have no qualms about parading around on stage dressed as a mouse that we have no problem going up to someone and asking if our group of twenty can all have free drinks for the night. And people also assume that we're going to be incredible liars. Somehow, because we're happy to pretend we're someone else, it's presumed that we're utterly convincing liars. We're not. Well, I'm not. I can pretend that I'm a 10 year old girl until the cows begrudgingly come home but ask me to pretend that I didn't eat that whole family bag of McCoys and that lie detector buzzer will go off in an instant. When I'm lying, I will create such a over-elaborate story that it won't be long before I'm revealing to you what grade I got for my Spanish GCSE mock exam and what I ate for breakfast on 24 May 1994. And I can see why people think that acting is a form of lying because it essentially is. But when you're an actor, you've been given your character and your lines and you know your boundaries. When you're lying, there are no boundaries and so the possibilities are endless which is why it is much more difficult and why this poor girl in the advert would never want me to be her wing-woman.

Worryingly, due to a lack of auditions and acting work on the horizon, I'm not entirely sure when my next blog will be. Hmmm, best see if that advert is still up...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Location Location Location

I was all set to write about this rather upsetting news...


But I realised I've been a bit ranty of late about the extra opportunities I think boys have. And I also reaslise that I often come across like a bitter little actress who should probably just get a sex change and quit whining. And finally I'm pretty sure, due to the increased amount of ranting I've been doing of late, there's probably a large collective sinking of hearts when you all think I'm going to embark upon another blog where I desperately try to get my point across in five paragraphs or less.

So I'm not going to blog about that as I'm fairly sure you already know my thoughts on the matter and, if you don't, they ain't great. Let's just leave it at that, eh?

Instead, after seeing a conversation on Twitter over the weekend about audition locations, I thought I'd add my thoughts. Now, on the whole, I've been lucky when it comes to the places I've auditioned in. I had no idea London had quite so many church halls but, thankfully, most castings I've attended have been in spacious and suitable rooms. Thankfully, most people in charge of these things realise that you need a space that is open, airy and is in a location where people don't need a degree in map-reading to find. But of course, there are a few people out there that get it wrong. Sadly some people think that any space is suitable for you to sell your acting wares and here are a few of my very worst...

I've written before about the awful experiences of auditioning in a director's basement where I performed an excruciating version of 'Happy Birthday.' If you've yet to read about my woeful time, you can have a gander here...


Now that was mainly about my inadequacies as a performer but the ridiculous location really didn't help. I'm always dubious about auditions held at someone's house and, really, if I was a sensible actress I'd never attend them. However, I do always make sure that I let someone know where I'm off to and I make sure that I've written a little stack of goodbye letters to my nearest and dearest just in case. But what I often find with auditions that are held at someone's lovely little home as that they don't bother to tell you beforehand that you'll be spending the afternoon in someone's abode. Many a time I've been wandering up and down residential streets, convinced that I must be in the wrong place until I see other confused actors all doing the same thing. And auditioning in someone else's house is awkward. I'm pretty sure I shouldn't know what the director's children look like before they've even had a chance to hear me stumble through their poorly written script. Of course, the above audition took it one step further and I was lead down to his cellar like the victim in a low rate horror film. If it was in a film, I'd have been screaming at me to just get out of the house and run. But of course, I just happily followed like the desperately out of work actress that I am.

Next up is the outdoor audition. Now I've only had to do one of these but I imagine the experience is generally the same however many times you find yourself in this situation. The director had mentioned before meeting him that there might be a very slight chance that we'd be auditioning outside but he was pretty sure he'd be able to get an indoor space. I don't need to tell you that, of course, he didin't. Instead I had the wonderful experience of auditioning in the middle of Hyde Park under the watchful eye of many a tourist and countless people desperately trying to seek out a bit of sun on their lunchbreak. I can't imagine my over the top storytelling managed to make their holiday or precious thirty minutes away from the office any nicer. And it's only when you're outside, being watched by people who have no idea what you're up to, that you suddenly become very conscious of how ridiculous how you look. I was instantly very aware of how my I flail my arms about and everything I said seemed far louder than it should've been. Amazingly I got the job although I wonder how much of this was to do with my talent and more to do with the fact that are very few actors who would put up with such conditions.

However, top of the list is an audition I attended a few years ago for a show that was going up to Edinburgh. It was all about arranged marriages and I was up for the part of a woman who had attempted to burn herself alive. The audition was being held at a church hall in west London and I spent my whole journey there psyching myself up so I was ready to portray the character with the correct amount of dignity. I arrived at the church hall to find a note taped to the door to say that the auditions were now to be held around the corner in McDonalds. I re-read the note several times, convinced that there must be some mistake but no, it most definitely said McDonalds. So off I went, suddenly wondering what I was letting myself in for. I arrived and it was absolutely packed so I had to hang around outside while the auditionee before me finished up. I stood there, just a pane of glass between myself and my rival, and it's the closest I've come to just walking off. But of course, I didn't. Obviously I knew deep down that one day I'd want this anecdote for a blog about my pathetic career. I was finally called in (I say "called in" but they actually just made a sign through the glass which I presumed was my cue to enter.) I sat, and over their Cheeseburger wrappers, I pretended to be a suicidal wife. It was completely impossible and I was actually pleased to see a few weeks later that the director had actually ended up casting herself in the role. Clearly I wasn't the only one who struggled that day.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Corporate Questions

I love corporate jobs. They pay well, you're wonderfully looked after and they tend to only take up a day or so of your time. As long as you don't crave emotional depth from your work then they're pretty much the best jobs out there. I value bacon sandwiches and endless cups of tea over being emotionally moved and that is why I love them so very much So, I was rather excited to get an audition for one yesterday. It had everything you want from such a job. It's well paid, it would be one day's filming just down the road from where I live and it's never going to be seen by anyone I know. As jobs go, these are the ones I want to make sure I don't have a mad panic about rent at the end of every month.

I headed off to my audition yesterday ready to smash it and make sure they couldn't even consider giving the role to someone else. I'd received the script the day before so I was familiar with it (it's hard not to be familiar with a script that is more exclamation marks than actual words.) As scripts go, it was actually one of the better written ones but the problem is with corporate scripts is that their main purpose is to get as much information across as quickly as possibly. This means that the sentences tend to be full of technical jargon that you don't really understand and seem completely unnatural. I've had roles where I've suddenly had to quote acts passed in 1979 in the same casual way that I might mention that I quite like your cardigan. So what you end up with is a very awkward script that is a beast to try and nail in an audition.

The point of the piece I was auditioning for is to help those in jobs where a high proportion of the staff are on the more socially awkward end of the scale. The idea being that they're far too clever at what they do and therefore find it incredibly difficult to ask questions. And it was very lovely of the company to help us get into character by putting in a representative from the company in the waiting room to sit with auditionees. I'm not 100% sure why they needed to be there unless they'd heard on the grapevine that actors are very lightfingered when left in a room with office furniture. But anyway, she was very pleasant but clearly determined to make as little conversation as possible which is lovely when it's just the two of you in the room. All my usual attempts of polite conversation were flatly rejected and it's only now that I'm starting to wonder whether this was actually part of the audition to see if I'd learnt anything from the script.

Thankfully I was quickly saved from the waiting room of doom and was ushered into the longest boardroom the world has ever seen. The person in charge, instead of waiting until I made the trek to the other end of the room, decided to introduce me to the panel while I was still barely visible to them. This lead to a wonderfully awkward, hardly audible set of 'lovely to meet you' greetings and then a confused look on everyone's faces as they they wondered if they still needed to shake my hand once I'd finally reached my chair. For some reason, my brain panicked and I decided that I really ought to shake the hand of the company representative who was sat opposite me. Sadly, I made this decision before realising that the table was far wider than I am tall and I ended up looking like a snooker player attempting some fancy trickshot.

The audition itself went ok and I was pleased with how I read everything (despite an alarming moment when one whole sentence came out Cockney.) However, it was clearly obvious when I left that the job wouldn't be mine. It's that slightly sympathetic tone that someone takes on when they tell you that they'll be in touch soon that just makes sure you know that you're going to have to find your rent money from somewhere else. They said that they'd be in touch either way so I've now got a joyous four day wait which I know won't end in good news. Best start saving the pennies for next month's rent then.

I should also mention that the incredible people at The Actors' Guild are now kindly featuring my blog alongside Steve Dineen's superbly written blog. The Actors' Guild is a wondeful resource for actors and I wholly recommend you check them out here.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Noises Off

Today I should be blogging about the audition that I just got back from. In the tradition of my blog, that would be the most likely thing for me to come back and report on. But, that will have to wait until tomorrow because, in a first for 2012, I went to the theatre last night. Oh yes, Miss L, because her wonderful friend got her a free ticket, ventured out of the house and pretended to be all cultural like.

I went to see Lovesong at the Lyric Hammersmith and on the whole, I'd recommend it to anyone that fancies an evening out in West London. It's written by Abi Morgan who, if you don't know by name, you definitely know her by her work. She's written a rather small film that's currently out known as The Iron Lady. You might have heard of it. She also wrote Shame which is out at the moment and Birdsong which is on BBC1 very soon. So yeah, she's doing alright at the moment. And the writing in Lovesong is bloody good. There are some gorgeously moving moments and all four characters are beautifully and delicately written. Despite the depressing nature of the story, I laughed far more than I cried and I came away feeling more uplifted than I expected to. There are some movement style pieces inbetween scenes which I personally found unecessary. I'm sure if I'd been in the midst of my GCSE Drama then I'd have loved them and would have found some meaning behind them but my cynical 28 year old brain just found them to be a bit tiresome. I do wonder if directors have become scared of just putting on a straightforward play. I admit that there are some incredible pieces out there where movement adds a wonderful new quality to the performance but when the writing is as tight as it was in Lovesong, all it did was detract from the performances.

But enough of my thoughts on the play. Basically I enjoyed it and I reckon your money would be well spent in going to see it. What I really wanted to blog about today was how exasperating theatre audiences are. I admit that my friend and I committed the first cardinal sin of theatregoing and because we were too busy chatting in the foyer, only entered the auditorium a minute or so before the show was meant to be begin. We checked our tickets and found that our seats were conveniently located slapbang in the middle of the row. After shuffling by angry people who were far more organised than us, we settled down and the lights came down as we were still in the midst of the wine glass/coat/bag dance. Within seconds of the show starting we realised that we were sat in front of possibly the most awful row of theatregoers. They bafflingly laughed at random lines (who knew the term 'peach tree' was funny?) and I swear they were munching their way through ASDA's entire stock of crisps. Bag after bag was opened as they guffawed at seemingly normal lines. They then became confused by some of the tricksy staging used to conceal the actors on stage. It was a shock when it was first used but within a nanosecond, it was plainly obvious what they'd done. Well, at least it was to everyone else in the room. Row M were so mesmerised by this that they then spent the next five minutes loudly whispering to each other to try and convince themselves that there wasn't some sort of evil witchcraft taking place on stage. Just as they finally managed to understand elementary staging, one of the characters makes a shocking revelation. Cue a gasp worthy of the pantomimes, followed by a whispering Mexican wave of 'Bitch!' as though we'd suddenly transported ourselves to the Jeremy Kyle show. Needless to say they remained audible throughout the whole play and any suspension of disbelief was utterly ruined.

I'm always amazed at how rude audiences are. I know that there are sometimes things that can happen on stage which can make you react in a way you didn't expect. I dare anyone to see The Woman in Black and not scream several times. Or for anyone who saw Oxford Stage Company (now Headlong) and their performance of Rookery Nook, you'll know that it was impossible not to remain laughing throughout. And if you see Translunar Paradise and don't find yourself sobbing by the end then you have a heart of steel. I don't mind those kinds of reactions. In fact, I think they're incredible. They show just how immersive theatre can be and I think it's amazing that you can completely forget about all the bills you have to pay and the work you need to get done for just a few hours and instead just allow yourself to be moved by what you see on stage. It's the other noise that really winds me up. Regular blog readers will know that I have a huge weakness for crisps but even I can go without them for a few hours. And unless you're actually dying (in which case, I wonder whether you should be seeking medical attention rather than watching Richard II) do you really need to cough in every pause?

But at least if you're in a big auditorium, those sounds can be lost slightly. I was once in a play in a very tiny space where a man yawned so loudly that everyone on stage actually stopped to look at him. Clearly he hated the play so much that he then continued to yawn in a similar fashion throughout, becoming more and more dramatic with each mouth opening. It got the point where everyone five minutes we'd have a five second sigh, followed by a ten second wail of a yawn which was accompanied my much arm stretching and was then finished off with a loud, contented second sigh. In the second half, he decided that his yawning wasn't enough and so proceeded to take out his mobile phone inbetween each yawn to see just how much he could put us off. Of course, we were all suitably distracted by this wailing, flashing buffoon and it ended up being the worst performance of the run. But I should be adept at dealing with such nuisances. In my first ever TiE show, where we took an 80s reworking of Much Ado About Nothing, to south London schools, I was welcomed on to the stage in spectacular fashion. Most actors get respectful silence but not me. Instead, while wearing a bright pink boob-tube and a frighteningly short polka dot skirt, my entrance had the soundtrack of 300 schoolchildren all shouting 'urghhhhhh' at the top of their voices. I'm pretty sure Dame Judi Dench never has to deal with such things.

So that was my first theatrical experience of 2012. Maybe I'm best off staying at home where I only have to deal with upstairs and the heaviest footsteps in the world and the weird man next door who shouts obscenties every few minutes. Hmmmm. Best get booking myself up for the year ahead...

Monday, 16 January 2012


Today is very much a day about chasing things up. This may not be the best idea on the day which is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. It should be the perfect idea in the world as it should be making me feel organised and industrious. However, every bit of chasing up I've done is currently being ignored and I'm left feeling like the invisible actor.

Currently I'm the chaser of one payment, one set of photos and one film. If I'd just begun the chase and still had my victims in sight then I'm pretty sure I'd be feeling joyous and optimistic about my pursuit. But I haven't. Instead, I'm on the fourth leg of the payment run and have just entered the second leg of the film and photo race and it's fair to say that my sprint has now turned into a woefully tired crawl. My emails started out so sunny and polite that I can't imagine how anyone could possibly ignore them. They were full of questions about the recipient's wellbeing and wishes that we get to work together in the future. They were laidback and crammed full of understanding of how busy the recipient was and when I sent them off I fully expected a response in the next day or so.

At first, my payment chase was where I was most successful. Probably because an actress in pursuit of money is something that even Usain Bolt would struggle to beat. They said they realised that there was another form I had to fill out and that as soon as it was done, they could process the payment immediately. I signed the forms to promise that I wouldn't turn into a murderous, drug-taking, alcohol-fuelled thesp and my email was received with a very brief but hopeful 'Thanks.' That email was sent just under a month ago and yet I'm still hunting down these pennies which will allow me to live for another month. So today I began my 2012 campaign and fired off an 'I really mean business this time' email in the hope that they finally take notice and empty the companies entire savings into my account or, y'know, just pay me what I'm owed.

But it's not just the reward that I'm after. It's bad enough that I've worked for these people and the very little that I ask in return is currently being dangled above my head, just out of arm's reach. But what's really bugging me is the fact that I'm now just being ignored. I realise people are busy but how long does it really take to quickly reply to an email? Even if they don't know the answer and can't currently tell me when I'll be able to pay my rent/cry at the sight of myself in a novelty costume/cringe at the sound of my own voice, can't they just reply and say that? But no, instead they have all decided to use the tried and tested method of 'let's ignore her and hope she gives up and goes away.' I'm not sure why they have all decided upon this approach and I can only presume that all the directors and producers and accounts type people all got together recently and decided that the best method for really winding up an actress with way too much time on her hands would be to get her to do the work and then pretend that she doesn't exist. Well, let me tell you, all you people who do important things that mean that I occassionally get to do the job I really want to do, I most definitely do exist otherwise T has some serious amount of explaining to do about the amount of dresses in his wardrobe.

However, I have to admit that that this hasn't helped with my theory that I may not actually be visible to the naked eye. That person you barge past as you're walking down the street as if they don't exist? That's probably me. That customer that gets repeatedly ignored? That'd also be me. But I'm pretty sure I do exist. I mean I've got credits on my CV which I'm almost certain that I didn't make up. And there's definitely evidence of my existence on film although they're mainly in the form of adverts, none of which have actually aired. Maybe this means I am actually the world's first invisible actor. In which case I'm off to place my CV at the top of the pile in every casting director's office until I can finally make the leap and get myself seen.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Today the world decided it was time to teach me a lesson. It was a harsh lesson to learn as I slowly woke up on a Sunday morning. As I debated whether I could really be bothered to make the two minute journey to the shop to buy eggs or if I should see if I could cobble together a breakfast out of Wispa bars and ground cumin, the world gave me a big ol' clip round the ear.

Y'see, I wasn't being offered a job yesterday. I was merely, in a roundabout way, being asked if I wanted to audition for the part. However, just because I've been asked to do one job without applying for it, my brain now instantly jumps to conclusions and presumes the whole world is desperate for a piece of Miss L. To be fair though, I think this sentence is pretty ambiguous...

I am looking for actresses and I was wondering whether you would be interested in working with me.

The rest of the email then goes into the filming dates and payment (or lack of) and says nothing about when auditions are or whether I'd be available for them. As I wondered which room to extend to house my hugely inflated ego, I assumed that this meant that they had looked at every other actress out there and decided that they couldn't possibly imagine anyone else playing the part. But of course, the world doesn't work like that. Instead, it lets you think for just a few seconds that maybe you've hauled yourself up to the next rung on the ladder. It lets you wobble about until you just get used to your new, slightly elevated position and then it sends a snake along to drag you all the way back down again.

I've always had a fear, especially with better jobs, that I've got the wrong end of an incredibly long and complicated stick. It probably doesn't say much about my self-esteem but I do often think that I'll turn up on set and no one will know why I'm there. There will then be a frantic look through lots of paperwork until someone has to awkwardly remind me that I was turned down for the job and that I need to go home and learn the important difference acceptance and rejection. Despite the fact that this is still yet to happen to me, it remains a constant and ludicrous worry and yesterday's misunderstanding can only mean that I'm one step closer to one of my greatest fears coming true. Thankfully the little dent to my pride has appeared just in time otherwise it wouldn't be long until I found myself face to face with Trevor Nunn, being told that I've got it wrong yet again.

 Tomorrow it's back to actually applying for jobs just like everyone else. Or maybe I'll turn this new found talent for presuming roles are instantly mine until someone falls for it...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Bare Essentials

I've spoken before about turning down work. It's something that when I first started out, I never thought I'd find myself doing. There was a time when I'd do pretty much any job for anyone who dared offer me one, regardless of whether they felt it necessary to reward me with food, money, warmth or all of the above. However, I've recently started noticing that I'm becoming a bit more picky about these things and I can only presume that this is a good thing. The amount of unpaid work I now do is down to an absolute minimum and if a job involves something that I'm just not comfortable with, I'm now comfortable enough with myself to say thanks but no thanks.

This morning, for example. I woke up to find someone that I'd never met or contacted was offering me a job. Although they had next to no budget, they were offering a very small payment and were able to cover expenses. Because my bank account is currently full of cobwebs and a few bits of loose change rattling around, I decided that it would be worth doing. It would keep me in crisps for another week and I figure if I'm trapped on a film set then I can't be out frittering away my last few pennies on a Mars bar. I had a quick look at the first couple of pages of the script and as it all seemed OK, I stupidly replied to say I was interested but would like to know which character they wanted me to play. "But why do you say that was stupid?" I hear you cry. Well, I'll tell you why. I didn't bother to read the whole damn script. Had I read on I'd have soon seen the word 'touch.' I'd have then seen the word 'thigh' a bit later on. Finally we have 'hands gliding' and it all starts to make sense. Because very soon after I'd initally stopped reading, the film very quickly descends into porn. But this isn't just porn, it's lady porn. And while I don't particularly have a problem with the world seeing my bits or getting entangled with another female for my art, I do have a problem when I'm being paid 83p an hour (I worked it out and that's honestly what I'd be getting.) Plus, with such a limited budget, it's fairly certain that it would be shot pretty poorly and no one wants to see my badly lit post-Christmas padding flailing around on some poor person's bed.

The world of film has been subjected to my lady parts before and although it was shot within the relative safely of drama school, it was still an horrific experience. It was the very first scene of the film that was shot and I found myself in a ground floor, street facing, tiny hotel room with my co-star and crew members, all of which were men. The curtains had to be partially open so that the light could get through so I apologise now to anyone who was driving through west London in 2005. The first couple of shots were about as traumatic as when they made Strawbery Ribena toothkind, but by the end I was happily taking notes from the director with everything on display. But of course, this was back in 2005 when I was 22 and we all looked a lot better back then. Despite the poor lighting and general lack of photographic talent, I still looked OK but six years on with no daily dance and movement classes to keep me trim, it's a very different story.

They still haven't responded to my initial question so, technically, I'm still doing this job. Best pull those lettuce leaves out from the back of the fridge just in case...

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Rising Stars

As promised, after yesterday's rambly, whiny and way too long blog, today I'll be bitching and moaning about this...


To be honest, the following could be today's blog...

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH(why am I surprised about this?!)HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH(why does the acting world hate women quite so much?!)HHHHHHHHHHHHHHH(wow, I wish I'd paid more attention in voice classes, this is really starting to hurt)HHhhhhhhhhhh.......

But that would be lazy and anyway, I've already stepped out of the house today to post a letter so clearly I'm not the lazy type. No. Instead I shall rant and rave for a few paragraphs until I exhaust myself out, read some much better articles that have already been released about the very same subject and dedicate the rest of the day to playing Jetpack Joyride (the most addictive game in the world. FACT.)

I'm going to try not to cover old ground with this because I've already written about the so-called gender divide in the world of acting. The high horse of feminism isn't one that I try to get up on too often, mainly because I have very short legs and look alarming in a pair of jodhpurs. However, I do feel that the world of acting is very much geared towards men and some of the biggest roles out there are the ones that can only be played if you have certain man-type bits. Just a quick look at the highest grossing films of 2011 supports this...

1. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (yes, I know there's Hermione but we all saw the Equus photos and that wizard is definitely a boy.)

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (I know little about this film but I think we can safely presume that it's mainly full of men with a few scantily clad women thrown in for good measure.)

3. Twilight - Breaking Dawn Part 1 (I refuse to take part in this franchise but I do know that the story revolves around an odd looking man-boy.)

4. The Hangover - Part 2 (more men.)

5. Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides (Captain Jack Sparrow. Need I say more?)

So really none of us should be surprised that there aren't any women featured in this list. When all the voting public gets to see are these films lead by men while the women get to pose in the background wearing next to nothing, it's hardly a shock when they think that the future of acting lies firmly on more manly type shoulders. And sadly it looks like the situation isn't going to improve. Cameron has now announced that he wants the British film industry to focus on making box office hits rather than nurturing new talent. Now, putting The Iron Lady aside (because I for one really don't want Thatcher to be the one female representative in the world of acting) I think it's safe to say that all these films are going to focus on them boys. And yes, us ladies will be allowed a look in but you can guarantee it will be looking over the shoulder of a man.

I was going to pass judgement on those who were lucky enough to find themselves in the list of nominees but that would be pointless. I haven't been able to find what the actual criteria is for this award so it's difficult to judge who should and who shouldn't be there. However, it's upsetting to see that Chris O'Dowd made the list while all his female co-stars in Bridesmaids were overlooked. It's also worrying that these actors are considered 'rising stars' when some of them were starring in hit films as far back as 2006. Apparently it can take another six years before the film industry will finally acknowledge your increasing popularity.

And what about the women left off the list? There are a lot of ladies who fully deserve to be recognised. The long-list for the award consisted of eight performers and it was the three women on this list, Jessica Chastain, Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence, that didn't make it to the shortlist. But what about the others? All of these actresses have been doing incredible things lately, as have Andrea Riseborough, Christina Hendricks and Miss L who was awesome as Police Officer Number Two back in 2008. But, in all seriousness, it's tragic to see these women and their hard work be overlooked. And I'm not suggesting that none of these men deserve to be recognised but we have these women and the public has sadly failed to help them and their acting talent be recognised.

Sadly I don't know how we change things. While the film industry desperately tries to ensure that it keeps making money, it will keep making films that it thinks the public want to see. And until the public decide that they want to see Miss L in her very own film, the world of movies will be a very sad place to be. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Yesterday was very much a day of two halves. So much so that I intended to split the day up into two blogs. Firstly so that you didn't get thoroughly bored and secondly so I'd have something to write about tomorrow. However, this happened and there's no way I'm letting that go un-blogged so I'm afraid today you'll have to put up with a full and rambling account of my day yesterday. If you wish to complain then I suggest you send your letters to BAFTA for this is really their fault.

So, back to yesterday. After weeks of aimlessly wandering around in my pyjamas, constantly worrying about the stilton in the fridge that we still haven't managed to finish, I found myself suddenly very busy. The day started with a photoshoot where I was playing a dentist. It was a lovely job and exceedingly easy but it was only when I was relaying my experience in the pub last night when I realised just how lucky I'd been with this one. Firstly I didn't even apply for it. They just contacted me out of the blue and asked if I'd like the job. When I'm not dreaming about being cast in the new Carry On film and having to learn how to do impressions of Sid James and Kenneth Williams (true) I'm dreaming about jobs that involve very little work on my part. I turned up, had a lovely time in make up and costume and then sat on a very comfy sofa in the green room surrounded by a plentiful supply of crisps, biscuits and tea. After a panic about the shoot running late, everything was suddenly back on a track and I was called into the studio. Three minutes later and my shots were done. That was it. I'd just been paid to smile at a camera for 180 seconds. And to top it all off, in the time that I'd been in the studio, Italy's entire stock of pizzas had been delivered. Even though I was leaving, I was urged to take as much as I wanted and I left with a spring in my step and a lovely layer of dough around my heart.

It was then time to head off to my audition which I did with a sense of dread. I'd already been told that I'd be there for the whole afternoon and that there would be a lot of improvisation involved. I realise that as an actress, this kind of thing should get me really excited. I should relish in the opportunity to exercise my creative muscles for a whole afternoon or some rubbish like that. Instead all I felt was a sick feeling in my stomach which may have been down to essentially eating pizza and crisps for breakfast but was mainly down to the knowledge that all this afternoon would really be about was showing off. And really, I wasn't wrong.

We'd been told that the room was open for 30 minutes beforehand should people wish to warm up. I know it's unprofessional to say so but I've never been a fan of undulating around a room while chanting tongue twisters. I know it works for many people but I just get bored. If I'm ever forced into a warm up then I'll do a bit of overly dramatic breathing, do a couple of scales and then touch my toes a couple of times. This warm up is about as effective as sitting in a freezer with a Calippo. Thankfully I entered the room and everyone was sat quietly. Some were reading, some were playing with their phones and a couple were chatting in hushed tones. However, there was one person warming up. Normally this wouldn't be a problem. Normally warm ups are pretty inoffensive and they should have very little impact upon the other people in the room. However, it's very hard not to punch someone when there is an actor in the room overdramatising yoga poses while he performs voice exercises like a pantomime Dame. It was horrific and it went on for a whole twenty minutes.

Thankfully the audition eventually started and everyone was bloody lovely. The show sounded great and the director seemed to know exactly what she was doing which is as rare as me eating raw tomatoes. The whole afternoon was spent devising and improvising various scenes and while it wasn't anywhere near as gut-wrenching as I thought it would be, it certainly had its moments. In this room you have 15 actors, all who want to be noticed. While a handful of us held back and remained sensible about the whole thing, others hammed it up so much that it would make a pig blush. I wasn't aware you could enunciate every syllable in a sentence while simultaneously gesturing every word. Nor did I know just how much overracting could contort someone's face. I felt less like I was in an audition room and more like I was stuck forever in the most bone-chilling freak show known to man. I will admit that it did feel nice to just mess about for a few hours and enjoy my job for what it is (telling a story with a ball of wool and a hat) but I've never breathed such a sign of relief as I did when I was finally released from the gurning circus from Hell.

Thankfully I'm back to normal today and instead of getting angry at people forcing others to sing Abba songs just because they're desperate to get a job, I can use my time to allow myself to get wound up by BAFTA judges. I've got a whole 24 hours to get increasingly angry about this so check back tomorrow for overly long sentences desperately trying to convey just how annoyed I am.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I realise I've spoken about agents before. I'm aware that I have mentioned before just how useless the one agent I've had was. He was about as useful as my voicereel is (in the four years that I've had it, it's secured me one quite poorly paid job.) His accent meant that I rarely knew what I was going up for and he understood the acting industry about as well as I understand anything written in the FT. His frustrating behaviour meant that I had several arguments with him, the worst being via text while I was at a dull day job. I'd promised to cover for a friend and I was in desperate need of the money to pay for my Spotlight membership so there was absolutely no way that I was backing out of this. But of course, because Sod is in charge of all laws, my agent's assistant rang at 7pm the night before telling me that I had a casting the next day. I explained that I was working a morning shift tomorrow and that the notice they'd given me wasn't enough to get out of it. She totally understood and said the morning slot was the only one available so I carried on with my productive evening of eating economy cheese and wondering how to make a buck out of my ever-increasing pile of agency rejection letters. The next day, while at work, my phone buzzes. It's my agent trying to phone me but I'm working for the one man less understanding than my agent and am unable to answer. A voicemail is left and I'm forced to crawl under the desk to listen to it. It's my agent telling me that I need to be at the audition and that I should be wearing a blue shirt. While crouched under the desk and keeping one eye on my bosses door, I text him back. The following text conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi. I'm really sorry but I'm unable to attend the audition. I explained to (Miss Useless Assistant) that I'm working and couldn't get out of it. She said that was fine. Sorry for any mixup caused.

Him: I'd like you to find a way to go to the audition. We've changed your audition slot 1pm (it was 12.30 and I was a good 40 minutes away.)

Me: I'm sorry but I can't just leave. Even if I could, I wouldn't be able to make it in time and I don't have a blue shirt with me nor do I have the money to buy one on the way.

Him: You need to decide what it more important to you. You've put me in a very compromising position with a very important casting director. I'm not happy about this at all.

After this I decided to leave things before I pointed out that he'd previously failed to contact me for a whole six months and that I was currently spending all my free time desperately trying to get with any other agency just so I could be away from them. I emailed him an apology when I got home and he said sorry for being the meanest man in the West and we carried on our unfulfilling professional relationship for another year. 

When we did finally part ways, they said they would be happy to take me back should I want to return and I have to admit that those parting words have stuck with me. Over the last couple of months as I struggle to find representation. I've been wondering whether I should just cast my pride aside and go back with them. However, this email I found earlier from them is a glorious reminder as to why I would never return...

Reece Witheredspoon  and Jake Gyllenhall wants to know if you speak Arabic, so , do you and if so to which level?

I think I might be best on my own for now...

Thursday, 5 January 2012


A very very short blog but I would just like to announce that lying totally works. Following on from yesterday's deceitful application, they've only gone and offered me a bloody audition. So there you go guys. It always pays to twist the truth and fib your way into the casting room.

Check back next week for a guaranteed woeful entry where I get totally found out for the fraudulent thesp I am.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


It's no wonder us limelight lovers get a tad confused from time to time. The lies we have to consider just to possibly be seen for a job are the kind of ludicrous tales that would make a low-rent fraudster blush. When growing up, I never realised that a strong part of my job would be pretending to strangers that I'm actually fairly competent at playing the flute. And I'm pretty sure, when my parents stared down at me on the day I was born, their one wish was that I would spend my adult days desperately clutching on to a stage combat qualification that expired years ago and claiming that accidentally picking up one Arabic word a year constitutes as learning the language. I mean, it's bad enough that we have to trick our mind into being someone else when we're on stage or in front of a camera but when we're doing it in our day to day life too? Surely that's something to be worrying about.

This morning, while on my daily futile search for work, I found a lovely advert for a children's show. Reading through it all sounded very delightful until it came to the character's description. Physically I fit the bill but the extras required were a little more challenging. However with a little bit of truth twisting, I'm sure I can pretend that I'm the actress for them...

Must be able to sing well - I sound awesome singing Elmo's Song in the shower (if you don't know this song, I urge you to stop reading and go here instead.)
Ability to play multiple musical instruments - as previously stated, I do know how to hold a flute. I can also actually play the piano. Let's just ignore the fact that I've previously owned an oboe, a violin, an accordian and a guitar yet have neglected to learn a single tune on any of them.
Circus skills - T will vouch for the amount of times that I nearly fall over, bump into things and drop items. The fact that I've yet to injure myself must mean I have some sort circus-worthy skill.

So, after convincing myself that I'm entirely right for the job, I went about applying. I marketed myself as the perfect performer for children's theatre. I put myself across as the smiley, bubbly performer that I rarely am. I highlighted all the children's theatre that people have bafflingly allowed me to part of and hoped that they ignore all the battered wives, prostitutes and soldiers that I've also played. Proud of my little cheery application, I fired it off and went in search of the next job.

A paid job for an online commercial came up. Perfect. There were two roles applicable for me being a lady type under 30. Excellent stuff. I had two roles to choose from. However, the two roles available were for a French Maid and a Stripper. Oh. Sadly the truth-twisting game didn't work quite so well this time...

Slim - while still able to fit into old clothes, Christmas has most definitely taken its toll and the layer of stilton and Pringles that I'm currently sporting is probably only of interest to those in the insulation game.
Sexy - my favourite pair of knickers is covered in cartoon monsters.
Seductive - the only thing that gives me a slightly husky voice is sleeping next to a wall with a propensity for damp.

Could I really go from marketing myself as the perfect children's performer to trying to convince someone that I'd be the ideal French Maid? The fact is that, despite my high regard for the human race and my firm belief that no one needs to see me flouncing around in a French Maid's outfit, I could easily justify my suitability for this role. And now it has just been announced that a casting website is now allowing actors to add up to five 'character types' to their profile. I'm off to see if I can market myself as the first sex-bomb, girl next door, street-tough, posh, princess. Let's see those job offfers come flooding in.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year

I really wanted my first post of 2012 to be a positive one. Today's post should be a hopeful, optimistic one as I aimlessly dream about what the upcoming year will be thrusting upon me. I've had a bit of a break from blogging over the last couple of weeks due to the acting world being forced into hibernation while pantomime reigns supreme. It's an odd feeling having inactivity left on your doorstep and being asked to look after it over the festive period. Of course, sloping around the house in pyjamas with a bag of crisps while keeping an eye permanently on crappy movies is probably my default mode so I embrace this time of year with pathetically weak arms. But the novelty wears off soon enough and there's only so many times you can watch 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' before the need to be proactive becomes more important than seeing just how many Pringles you can eat in one sitting (it's about 386.) But sadly there's only so much you can do when everything has shut down for mulled wine and presents. As I've said many a time in this blog, I could use this free time do productive things that better me as a person but this never happens so instead the season has been spent with me patiently waiting for the jobs to start coming back.

Last night, while vaguely assisting T as he embarked upon his final push to try and defeat Arkham City once and for all (my greatest skill seems to be pointing out things that aren't actually there), I became distracted by a flurry of acting jobs suddenly being posted online. I leapt upon them with an enthusiasm usually only seen when food is put before me and I excitedly worked my way through them. I applied for all the paid ones that I could and thought I'd just have a quick look through the unpaid ones just in case there was something that looked interesting. As I glanced through the usual stuff, my eye was caught by a post by an incredibly well known production company. How exciting. This company produce some of the biggest television shows out there but hang on, why are they in the unpaid section? And woah, what's that? They're asking for audience members for their upcoming celebrity reality show spin-off? I read through the whole brief and my worst fears were confirmed...here, on a respected casting website was a call for audience members for a reality TV show. My heart sank and my soul wept.

Is this what has become of the acting industry? Are performers now held in such low regard that we are now being used to pretend that we're fans of one of the main culprits in the crime against television. Reality TV has taken over our screens and this cheap programming means that the amount of quality shows is so few that once parts have been offered to those few actors that always appear in these things, there's very little left for the rest of us. And sadly, because of this depressing lack of work, I'm sure there will be some actors who respond to these calls in the hope that it will at least be a chance to get on television.

But my main disappointment is with the casting website. Surely they have standards to uphold and instead of just bowing down to these production companies, they should have the nerve to stand up to them and try to maintain what little dignity the acting profession is desperately clutching on to. This casting site has served me incredibly well over the years and it has helped pay a lot of bills but seeing it become the next victim to the cheap, sensationalised, celebrity driven takedown of the industry is a seriously disheartening way to start the year. I posted about this job on Twitter last night and I was delighted by the reaction of other fellow actors and I really hoped that this casting website would take note and by today the job would be removed but I'm sorry to say that it's still there.

I really hope that this is just a minor blip and the rest of 2012 will be the year that the world of acting finally fights back. Maybe this could be the year that despite the debilitating cuts, dramas such as Black Mirror and Great Expectations can lead the way and prove that there is a lot more to be gained from putting what little money is left into producing quality programmes. Sadly I forsee yet another year dominated by the same formulaic shows meaning that this time next year, I'll be in exactly the same position writing the same blog. See you in twelve months!