Friday, November 6, 2015

Desperate Housewife

Yeah, I got dumped by Neighbours. (See 31/10/15) Needless to say, I didn't see it coming.

There I was, thinking my dreams had come true, that I'd found The One and out of the blue I get a phone call.

‘It’s not you, it’s the character,’ they said. At least it wasn’t a text message.

But. Fame is a fickle thing and there’s no point wallowing in self-pity. I’ve got another suburban gig ready to embrace me with open arms: an online video for The Good Guys.

So, precariously balancing my teaching job with a campaign for stardom, I'm off to a house in downtown Wantirna where I am playing a housewife and mum of a talentless young woman who wants to be a performer. The whole thing is improvised, which is challenging, but it’s one of the most relaxed shoots I’ve ever done.

Highlights? Cracking up. Talking mothers, writing and the meaning of life with the makeup guy. The stuffed toddler huddled in the corner of the dining room. (A Peek a Boo Doll) Cracking up again.

Embarrassing moments? Hm.

Ooh, I have one.

When I meet my second onscreen daughter we shake hands and she tentatively goes in for a… hug? Kiss? Nose rub? I’m not sure what it was. But we end up doing a sort of air cheek smack. It’s one of the most awkward greetings I’ve ever been part of and I’ve been part of quite a few.

Anyway, both my daughters are funny and gorgeous (must take after their mother) and everyone is lovely and the shoot goes well but I still drive home doing a gloomy self post mortem. Why am I feeling so morbid?

Must be still getting over the break up.

These things take time.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Of droughts and flooding rains

Since that last audition I've had another four, including one I had the privilege of paying for.

It's called a self-test and it's for a small role as a board member in an ABC drama starring Guy Pearce. My agent wants it done professionally so I dutifully book myself in for a $60 session to film a three line audition, then it all gets moved forward and it's a mad scramble to find someone else who can do it at short notice. I don my suit and rush from a holiday rehearsal with my students all the way across town to a little joint in Footscray. I've only got $45 cash on me but luckily it doesn't take long so the guy's happy with that. Later, a message from my agent comes up on my phone. 'We got your audition upload and it's terri--' Terrible?! Oh crap. Then I read the whole message. 'it's terrific' Relief. But after all that I don't get the role. I try out for another TVC a week later but the dry spell continues.

Then I have two auditions in one week. First I am invited, via the Starnow casting website, to audition for a rare paid role: a mum in an online video for a retail store in the style of The Office.

So on Tuesday after work I jump in the car and head into Richmond. I have to do a short scene that I've learnt and also improvise some dialogue. It goes down well. In fact the guy is laughing so much the camera--read iPhone-- is shaking. A good sign. He says he'll let me know by Friday. There's no guarantee but I’m feeling so good I settle into peak hour traffic believing I’m gonna get both roles and I haven’t even done the second audition yet.

The next day I rush off to South Melbourne for another Neighbours audition. It's mid-morning but it's raining and it's like peak hour again. I am consequently a bit late and the lovely but no-nonsense casting agent rushes me into her little studio. There's a beanied, bearded man with a Scottish accent (I know I've seen him in something before) who turns out to be reading for me. He's doing three roles. Thankfully I'm only doing one. I have to look at him and then across to two other imaginary characters while he says their lines. I'm not exactly composed but I put my best professional foot forward and get a blank on a line in my first take. Second take goes well but the casting woman wants another. I unintentionally do a look in the wrong direction but she's happy (or maybe she just wants me out of there) so off I go. I accidentally drive over a traffic island up the street (put it down to poor visibility) but manage to arrive back at work on time and in one piece. Then it's back to my day job--rehearsing my Drama students for their performance the next evening.

Friday comes and I’m checking my phone all day. Nothing. I spend the weekend down in the dumps, wondering whether I should chuck it all in. By the end of Monday the last little remnants of hope have gone. Then on Tuesday after work I get an email to say I have the mum role after all. The client liked me the best. Me! My first credit for 2015. Now I don’t look like a total BLA (Big Loser Actor)!

But wait. There's more!

On Thursday there’s a missed call from my agent. I have given up on the Neighbours role by now. It's probably an audition for some lineless, lime-lightless, payless role. But the young woman on the phone tells me I’ve got the part! She waits for me to stop screaming like I’ve just won tattslotto then gives me some details that I hardly hear I am so delirious. I hang up and look around the staffroom eager to justify my joyous outburst to my colleagues but their bemused heads are down.

I don’t care.

The drought is over.


Yesterday I got a call from Neighbours to discuss wardrobe. An hour later I get a call from my agent to say they've cut my role.

I know life has its up and downs but lately I've had more downs than a Coles ad.

Friday, August 28, 2015


You’d think by now I would have something new to tell you about my acting exploits. But no. The drought continues. Not the auditions. I’ve had quite a few. But the ‘You got the part!’ calls. They’ve been very scarce. Non-existent to be exact.

So for want of an embarrassing slash hilarious anecdote of my on-set shenanigans, I’ll tell you about my latest auditions.

I keep getting called up for mum roles. Most of them I’m too old for. Do I look like a primary school mum? No. Do I look like a mum of teenagers? Not when they usually cast twenty somethings. But I go along and give it my best. So far this year I’ve also auditioned for a supermarket shopping mum (again) and the mum of a hipster. Playing against type, I've tried out for a corporate manager and today I auditioned for a bit part as a radio show caller.

I memorise my line and practise it numerous times and ways, both at home and on the drive in. But the result of a quick initial read-through (how hard can one line be?) is that I've accidentally learnt a word wrong and can't get it out of my head.

When I arrive the waiting room is filled with men and I joke that I must be in the wrong place. I am such a card. Anyway, it breaks the ice which I always think is a good thing, except in this case it triggers one chap’s highly engaging monologue about trains, train-lines and the cost of parking.

Gradually the males are replaced by an interesting assortment of ladies.

‘It makes a nice change from competing with women who look like models,’ I remark.

To which one replies, ‘What are you trying to say?’


A moment later I am summoned and realise I’m not very focussed. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so chatty. In the first take I say not one but three words wrong. In one sentence. It takes a few goes before I actually get the whole line right. Brilliant. It’s all over in a few minutes and I walk down the hall past the stunned faces of the other auditionees who have obviously heard my dismal execution (pun intended). Then I drive the 60 Ks home trying to figure out how I could have stuffed up so badly.

I said ‘guy’ instead of ‘bloke’ and ‘total narkisist’ instead of ‘textbook narkisist’, the last word being an intentional mispronunciation of ‘narcissist’.

‘It’s narkisist-sic,’ the casting guy corrected. ‘She’s supposed to be uneducated.’ So I did it like he said, wondering how I could have got that wrong too.

Funny thing is, I recheck the script later. It says: ‘narkisist. (sic)


Who’s the uneducated one now?

So I feel exactly one third less stupid than I did earlier. Not such a bad day after all.