I’m one of the lucky ones. Lately I’ve been bombarded with self-tape audition requests for TV, film and commercials. One night in March, I was just about to tape a ten page guest star audition when my manager texted me. She needed me to re-tape my audition from the day before with a new direction from casting – and it needed to be in ASAP! My Zoom reader patiently waited for me to finish that before we continued with the five scenes at hand. Between takes, a “ping!” for a commercial audition came in, and it needed to be submitted by 9am the next morning. It was now 5:30pm. I calculated the rest of my evening, decided I could do it in time, and I confirmed it with my agent. By the time I finished with my TV self-tape, I was thirty minutes late for my on-line theatre rehearsal, but I was also having a hard time understanding what the commercial casting director wanted. I’ve rarely been called into their office, so their writing style confused me. I solved the problem the best way I knew how in that moment: I posted part of those directions into a private actors’ FB group asking for help. While I did not name the CD (casting director), somehow everyone knew who it was based on their writing style. No one else named the CD, but people had STRONG opinions about that office. I was unaware of their questionable reputation. By 11:30pm, all of my auditions were edited and uploaded, and I finally had my dinner, with feet up on the couch.
A woman in that private FB group, for some unknown reason, felt that the CD needed to see my post, took a screenshot, and sent it directly to them. The CD then called my agent, who in turn, called me. Not a good thing. This led to a private phone conversation between me and the CD, and let’s just say, it did not go well. Two things were at play here: Fear inside the actor, and fear inside the CD.
- The Actor – Those in the private group kept asking, “Why would someone do this? Why would an actor throw one of their own under the bus for such a benign post”? Lots of theories blew around, but what remained was this: FEAR. While the actress never revealed themselves, she did write a LONG (anonymous) email to 5 group members outlining her fear of losing work/insurance during a pandemic, and since she saw my query as a “complaint”, she felt it threatened her job opportunities. She went into detail about how hard it is for casting directors, that we should be grateful for ANY opportunity, and anything short of doing that would mess it up for everyone. I found that string of logic to be…impressively full of fear.
- The Casting Director – Many in the FB group kept saying, “There’s nothing wrong with your post whatsoever!” After re-reading it 3 times, I agreed, but the CD insisted that it meant only one thing: I was personally attacking them, and that my query was a direct criticism of their work. I barely said anything during our phone “conversation”, as they insisted I was “deliberately trying to rile them up”, how hard their workload is, the pressure they are under from directors, how lucky I am to even get an audition, and how could I be so “unfair”?. (Note: Over five hours after my submission was due, and almost fifteen hours after I’d uploaded it, they still didn’t know if it was in their possession. Yet they had time to spend on the phone with both my agent, and then me?) When I recovered from fourteen minutes of being accused of something I did not do, I was settled enough to see the truth. They were scared. The thought of their bosses not seeing them as “good enough”, or worse, incompetent, petrified them. So they saw a question in a private FB group – that didn’t even mention their name – to be a threat.
I share this to shed light on how fear – when it controls our behavior – is a monster. Remember, my friends, monsters aren’t real.
(PS: I’ve requested never to be submitted to that office again, and my agent understands. Opportunities don’t come from people, they come from the Universe.)