This week I’ve been questioning a lot of things surrounding my career and my body. I auditioned for the role of Fat Pam on a big TV show on a major network and I found myself saying, “Dear God, please let me get the part of Fat Pam!” Even typing it now I see how ridiculous it sounds.
In the middle of this pleading with God for the future of my career, it hit me how degraded this suddenly made me feel. Did I really want to play the part of someone called Fat Pam? Am I really fat enough to play someone nicknamed Fat Pam? Are all my years of training leading up to the role of Fat Pam? The answer is what made me sad: yes. I did want that role because it’s my job as an actress. Yes, by Hollywood’s standards I am fat enough to play Fat Pam. And as someone who is a trained actor, I have the ability to play this role and nail it.
So what’s been bumming me out? I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few days and realized I’m the most overweight and unhealthy I’ve ever been in my life. I’m not proud of that. It’s not who I am or who I want to be. So to have it brought into my work and essentially called out as being fat, makes me feel embarrassed. It’s something I’m profoundly aware of in my day-to-day life. I’m not one of those people who thinks I look sexy as a plus-sized gal. Or that it’s cute that my gut sticks out past my pants. More power to those self-confident large ladies, but that’s not me or how I feel.
I think this audition is making me pause to reflect on my career because I realized this role is essentially a fat joke. And no matter how much I don’t like it, I’m perfect to play it.
I consider myself to be someone who has a wide-ranging and very accepting sense of humor. I love jokes that push the envelope, or call out something we’re all thinking but never say. I do NOT take fat jokes personally, even though I am a chubster.
I think I was disappointed when I got the audition because, as actors can tell you, it’s very exciting to be called in for such a big show. We get our hopes up. This is the dream! But I quickly realized this audition was for a fat girl. And not just someone who is overweight, but her NAME is Fat Pam. Why can’t she just be Pam? Because fat jokes are an easy target. Fat people are the last group of people you can make fun of without the PC police showing up on your Facebook feed because being fat is gross and socially unacceptable.
Don’t worry I’m not the PC police to be a buzzkill for fat jokes. I get it. TV comedies need to make fun of people and situations. It’s the nature of the beast and I embrace it. So why is the audition for Fat Pam suddenly affecting me more than similar parts I’ve auditioned for?
If I’m being honest, I think it’s because I didn’t get the part and that’s embarrassing because I wanted it. I wanted to be Fat Pam. I worked on this role, memorized my lines, made strong acting choices, put on my fat featuring shirt, and none of it was good enough to get picked as Fat Pam. Seriously, how embarrassing. Why am I doing this again? Oh yeah. I want to be an actor.
Like so many of my fellow actors I want to perform. You want me to play Bob the Billy Goat? Where do I sign up! You need a redheaded mime? I’m in! I love performing. I love making people laugh and telling a story. But for some reason this time, this role, has me questioning WHY I want to act. At this point in my life, I do not want to play part called Fat Pam.
I want people to see that I’m more than just a fat actress. There’s comedy beyond my curves. They are independent of each other. Fat women can be funny without being the butt of a fat joke.
I know some of you are thinking, we’ll she’s just mad she didn’t get the part. Absolutely. I’m mad because I know I could play that part and yet someone looked at my audition and passed. I will never know if it was because I wasn’t funny, or maybe I was too fat, maybe I wasn’t fat enough…who knows. That’s one of the awesome side effects of being in this business. 99% of the time we have no idea why we weren’t cast. We just have to go in with our best Fat Pam, and hope they like it.
This wasn’t the first part I’ve auditioned for lately that requires some type of comedy at the expense of my body type. The first audition I ever turned down was for a kid’s show where I was asked to wear a bikini and slather myself with sunscreen in front of the kids. I read the description, slack-jawed. Who thinks this is funny? Kids? Parents? Gross. So for the first time ever I said no to an audition. For the record, I by no means think I am high and mighty, or above playing some parts.
This moment of self-reflection is making me realize I have a different perspective on the roles I play now. What would my daughter think about Fat Pam? Or kids laughing at me while I slather myself in a bikini? Do I want my daughter to see me do that? The answer is no. Where as a few years ago I would have paused and cringed, I still would have auditioned and hoped for the best.
Those who know me know I have a sense of humor that is on par with most college dudes and teen boys. So it’s not that I can’t take a joke. I would just rather not have this joke exist. Ya feel me? Fat Pam is an easy joke. Why not try Star Trek Pam? Or Mahjong Pam? Let’s push the creative envelope further than a fat joke.
I don’t know what my career holds next and I’m fully aware that by writing about this I will probably never get cast on this show. That’s a risk I’m willing to take. All I know is that I don’t want to get an audition and feel sad inside any more. Part of that is my own insecurities, the other part is an industry that is reliant on easy jokes, and stereotypical archetypes of what overweight women can and can’t play. I want to play bad bitches, sassy school teachers and funny characters that make people laugh. But not because I’m fat. Because I’m a talented actress and I deserve more.