Do you know that fantastic feeling that happens right after you throw up?
That 90 seconds where you can confidently confirm that you just got rid of all the sickness that was haunting you for hours, maybe even days?
In that time, you decide you are going to stop hugging the toilet, stand up and walk out of the bathroom with more confidence than Beyonce at Coachella.
That was how I felt when I walked out of my first acting audition. That 90 seconds of epic euphoria hit.
Let’s back up to the beginning…
I submitted an application to audition for a student film put on by a liberal arts college in LA. Yes, I drove two hours to LA for a potential 3-minute on-screen audition. And then drove 2 hours back.
But hey, I can write from anywhere. So it really didn’t make a difference if I did it at home in my PJs or at a coffee shop in the sketchiest part of LA.
The only difference is that in an LA cafe gentlemen who are clearly part of an Italian gang hit on me while I pour sugar into my coffee, homeless men sing rap songs at the table next to me and I am forced to walk across the street to a 7-eleven gas station to pee…twice.
Life is an adventure, and this day was going to be one.
As much fun as the cafe was, the hour finally arrived to stop writing, and head over to the audition.
The security guard let me know it was taking place in the “Stage Room” and that I could enter when the red light above the door was not on.
I signed in, and with my crisp headshot in hand walked to the door. It was only 2:20, and even though my audition wasn’t until 2:45 I had been told many times, “If you are on time…you are late.”
The light was off.
I slowly opened the door, saw a camera fixed atop a tripod, confirmation this was the correct place, and proceeded to swing the door all the way open.
Daylight streamed into the otherwise windowless room of black concrete.
Immediate silence seeped out of the room and blew on my face.
An on-screen audition was taking place at that very moment and all 10 pairs of eyes sitting behind the camera darted in my direction.
“Oops” mouthed out of me as I slowly closed the door shut.
“Well, shit. I might as well just head home right now. Yep. Welcome to Hollywood Kirsten. And goodbye, “I thought.
Just as I began to walk away from the door a tall and burly man wearing a wrinkled flannel walked out.
“Well that was surreal.” he said with a laugh “Not your fault, we didn’t turn the light on.”
He was the director, and likely the nicest person I had met all day. (If you don’t count my Italian guido lover.)
“We can call you in in a few minutes do you have everything you need?”
“Well, is there any material I should have or is this a full cold read?” I asked. (Using language I had learned about 2 days prior to knowing what a “cold read” was.)
“Oh wow. No one sent over the material? ahhh…okay here, take all the time you need,” he replied and handed me the sides I would be reading.
I sat down outside and began to frantically read the lines.
I was a wife in a car with my husband…got it
we were on vacation…how cute
we flirt…I can do that
he tries to kiss me and I laugh him off…expert at that
we bicker, I can do that
the car breaks down…and my husband has to fix it… shocking
a monster shows up behind my husbands when he shuts the hood of the car, I scream uncontrollably and freak out…well, uh oh….
It was at this moment the realization hit of how important it is to allow yourself to lose control of your emotions in class.
I made a mental note to NEVER forget this, because things were about to get interesting. Had I known this role involved me losing my shit, I wouldn’t have applied.
I hadn’t screamed (above water) in probably 20 years. My last recollection of screaming from fear was likely from when my brother would chop off my Ken dolls head and leave him on creative display around the house. I would turn a corner and BAM find his headless body dangling from a chair. I’d scream, shove his head back into his body and have Barbie make love to him. I was 8 and intuitively already understood makeup sex.
While I sat there reading and crafting my new world, about five different men dressed up as the Joker walked by along with a girl with so much sass she might have actually made me scream from true fear. Her strutt and the dirty look she shot my way was scarier than any monster that was about to attack my husband.
Attempting to ignore all this I analyzed the script and memorize as many lines as possible. The character that I had crafted zipped up around my body and I walked into the audition room.
I made sure to walk in confidently and with my personality truly on display.
“Please take a seat and slate.” A voice commanded.
The audition was off.
The reader was an Asian girl wearing glasses and sat about 10 feet away from me. She read as monotone as humanly possible. She was like the female version of Ben Stein, the clear eyes commercial actor. Lets simply say, she provided me ZERO emotional life to work off of.
But I spoke to her like the husband I had come to believe she was.
Things were going great, I really did learn the lines in about 10 minutes and was able to build emotional life around this character and her relationship with her husband.
But I had this fear, the scream was coming…
And then, it happened.
My husband slammed the hood of the car shut and the creature appeared behind him.
It came out of me and I think the scream actually scared me more than anyone or anything else.
“Get in the car!” I screamed, heart pounding. Sweat instantly built behind my neck.
“Scene,” the director said. Well, at least I think that is what he said. Things were getting hazy and I was in shock at the shock that had come over me, and out of me.
“Great, that was great. Okay, I think we are going to have you read with a few of the men.” the director said.
A gentleman appeared and we began the scene all over.
This man was cute, he had blonde hair and greenish-brown eyes. I imagined we had just gone on vacation and had a great time. This time it felt even more truthful being able to look into a man’s eyes and get annoyed and flirt with him. But then again…suddenly the monster arrived.
The screaming came back.
I bid farewell to my first husband and they had a second guy walk in.
This one was scruffier, he had shoulder-length hair, was wearing a Canadian tuxedo with a white shirt exposed along with a booming voice. He looked like an actor and dripped that dirty sex vibe. We sat down and suddenly…he was my husband.
The chemistry was instant and more palpable than the cute soft boy I was married to previously. Our tension of bickering and flirtation meant something deeper.
They had us read together a second time after some direction to feel that our relationship was bubbling up on the verge of a fight.
We read again and for a moment when I looked into his deep doey brown eyes, irritation fumed from me. I felt like we were together, like I was pissed at him for breaking the car down and like we had just had sex in our hotel a few hours prior to leaving.
The final read ended. “yes, you could really feel it that time.” the director let out with a fist gesture. “Thank you for coming, we will be in touch.”
I picked up my belongings, walked out the door and waved goodbye to my second husband of 5 minutes.
Maybe I’ll get the role, maybe I won’t. But I learned a few things in that first audition:
- Don’t open doors unless you are 100% certain you should open it.
- Take risks and do things you don’t think you can do, because you might surprise yourself and…well, SCREAM!
- Some people you have chemistry with within 1 second, while with others, it will never exist.
I am really glad I am not actually in a car right now with a husband who is about to die by some mysterious creature of the night. The next scene involved him trying to get back into the car. But the creature tore off his legs while I held his hands and screamed.
I think I would prefer to stick to Ken’s amputation, not my husband’s.
What was your first audition like?