A former agent once told me I would never be a successful actress until I’m in my 40’s and 50’s because I need to age into my character “type”. I can only assume he meant the amazingly hot funny chick “type” but in case he didn’t, I’m curious to see if his theory holds up.
I think about this comment a lot when I’m at auditions with older women who are in my future successful casting category. The other day I was at a commercial audition and I looked around to see several women, in their 40’s and 50’s all a similar “type” as me. All of them hoping to get the same part in a commercial that I was there for.
They had clearly been around the business for a long time and knew each other from previous auditions or projects and are no further along in their careers than I am. None of them were Instagram famous or had wacky YouTube videos with funny sketches. They were character actresses who are still hustling, still in the game, hoping to get a shot at a no-line part in a national commercial.
As I was thinking about this potential future, I suddenly got very tired. I’m tired a lot actually (read: mom of 3yo) but I keep hauling my butt across town every week, every day, in the hopes that someone will put me on their TV show, or commercial. Or Vine video. Sometimes it works out. Most of the time it doesn’t. And all of the time lately it seems, I’m exhausted by this process.
When I first moved here I would hear stories about people moving out to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. Then ditching those dreams after a few years because it’s mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. Don’t get me wrong there are great moments, and it’s easy to forget to celebrate the little victories when you so passionately want the big victories.
On my ridiculously long drive back home after this audition, I started thinking about my future in this business. Will I really have to wait until I’m in my 50’s to starting working regularly as an actress? What if I end up going out for the same bit parts in commercials and TV shows that I go out for now, except I’ll be almost 60? Will I be happy doing that? Because truthfully, sometimes, I’m not happy with that now.
It’s hard to get constantly rejected while doing something you love. Every actor I know takes their heart into the audition room, and leaves it there. And chances are their best will not be enough to get them cast. We all want job security in the entertainment business and it’s becoming more and more clear to me that it doesn’t exist.
So what’s the answer? Cut bait and run? That’s not my style. I just know that I don’t want to be approaching retirement and look back on my career as a series of missed opportunities to deliver one-liners on various TV shows. There has to be something more I’m meant to do in this career. Wish me luck as I continue to find it.