AVERAGE. PRETTY BUT NOT TOO PRETTY. NOT RAIL THIN. BRUNETTE (NO BLONDES!). WARDROBE: RED POLO, KHAKIS, COMFORTABLE SHOES.
When I read that, I think of a pretty brown haired princess with pleated khakis jammed up her lady bits and an ill-fitting cotton shirt, sweat-stained Keds and unfortunate, mousy hair tied back in a greasy ponytail, her stubby hand on her chunky, average hip.
Average. Everyday. ME.
This was for an audition I had this week, for a linens company. I got the audition call from my agent:
Agent: “—YES. Audition tomorrow. Can I confirm you?”
Me: “OK, I haven’t seen anything about it in my email…”
Agent: “Well, here it is. You’re at 11:55am in Santa Monica…….ah, Kari Peyton Casting. That’s all I know.”
Me: (Why, it must be a VOLUNTEER job! Is there a rate, maybe?!! A role?? Also, I would have to find someone to cover me for my lunch shift. A pain in the ass, but – worth it, possibly.) “—– Sure. Thank you!”
I found the email and read the thing about the red polo. That is for sure one kind of shirt that I don’t own.
I drove to Ross near my apartment. I hate buying things for auditions, but I know how unimaginative clients can be, in entertainment. If they say “red polo”, and you don’t wear one, your new superpowers will be “INVISIBILITY!” and “NOT BOOKING!”
I found a discount orange polo, a hot pink polo, a baby-boy-sized red polo, and a red v-neck. I decided the least offensive (and flattering) option, was the hot pink polo. Red-ish. And appropriately square.
You know when you are looking for something and suddenly you see it everywhere? I saw random people walking on Sunset Blvd in RED POLOS AND KHAKI PANTS. Entire schoolyards of children in RED POLOS AND KHAKI PANTS. Ryan Gosling in a RED POLO AND – I’m kidding. He would never let that happen to him.
The morning of the audition, there was a shooting in Santa Monica where three people were taken to the hospital. This followed a tragic shooting the previous Friday, where a young gunman took his own life and the lives of four other people, also in Santa Monica.
Nice, pretty Santa Monica. Devastating. The story was still unfolding.
I could vividly picture myself, shot in the arm (straight through the sleeve of my polo shirt), lying face-down on the ground, my headshots splayed across the sidewalk and pleasantly smiling toward the sky, my khaki pants stained from having pissed myself, and my sensible shoes nowhere to be found.
Headline: “[SANTA MONICA] TARGET EMPLOYEE SHOT IN ARM. FASHION POLICE ON THE SCENE. AVERAGE VICTIM IN STABLE, SELF-CONSCIOUS CONDITION.”
I drove into Santa Monica, to the casting office. My eyes quickly followed the trail of red polo shirts into the lobby.
I signed in and took a seat. There we all were! A bunch of average joe brunettes, with our red polos tucked in to our khakis! There’s always the rogue in the bunch. The odd model who walks in with adorable khaki cropped cargos and a sexy red tank. And heels. HEY! YOU! THEY SAID “AVERAGE”, OK? THIS IS OUR CHANCE – SCRAM! (And then we resume our dinner like a bunch of hobbits.)
We made friendly chit-chat. One girl referred to us as a bunch of “Joey’s sister’s” (Joey from Friends… we were all in that broad ethnic bracket, looks-wise.)
“So, OBVIOUSLY I am not wearing the red polo…” This girl in a black tank top piped up. She was also in jeans. “I just didn’t get this notice until it was too late to do anything about the wardrobe…Shit…”
We all smiled at her and futzed with our awful shirts.
She approached the casting director. “I didn’t mean to be rude and not pay attention to the wardrobe, I just didn’t have time. Do you think it’s ok?”
The casting director said, “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t worry about it. If they can’t imagine you in a red polo, then do you wanna work with them?” She didn’t say the obvious, which is, “They will pass over you when they’re reviewing the tape. So, if you’re cool with that, no worries!”.
Having no emotional attachment to my shirt, I made a declaration. “I’ll switch shirts with you, if you want.”
We switched shirts for her audition. She was up first. We found a cool, modern conference room with a big sliding wood door that revealed a giant glass panel to the lobby, when we closed it. It was purely for sound, I guess. No matter, it was like my days back in the theatre. Just GET THE CLOTHES ON THE PERSON.
She went in, did her audition, and I waited in the lobby, in the black tank she had on earlier.
If we all looked the same, how come we didn’t act the same? Why was I the only one offering my shirt, while everyone else checked their email?
I gotta say, it’s easy to throw people under the bus in these situations. Just assuring that girl in a sweet and friendly voice that she didn’t need to change, would have done it. Boom. She’s out. One less for me to compete against and I seemed like I cared, while I did it.
But that doesn’t help MY chances. At all. And it makes me feel like shit for the rest of the morning. I feel like we need to support each other. I’m not giving her my own ideas for her audition, but I’m putting us on level playing ground.
HOT PINK POLO PLAYING GROUND! YEAH!
She returned, and we switched back to our old selves. She thanked me profusely and said she would totally pay it forward.
“Please don’t make anyone else wear a polo. They are horrible.” I squirmed in my shirt that must have first been designed, using an orangutan as a dress form.
“Seriously. You went above and beyond the call of duty.”
“Well, we actresses don’t really have that much duty to do, so…”
“Of course! Also, you owe me 10% if you book this thing.” We laughed. I always feel like it’s meant to be or it isn’t, and you just move on to the next thing, either way.
I auditioned like a boss – literally, it was just a few seconds of a facial expression (I don’t know how they choose who they want from that, but….) – and walked back out into the world, with renewed spirit somehow.
I wasn’t even worried about being shot.
It was a good day.
*I tried to take the most beautiful picture you’ve ever seen of someone in a polo shirt with a window A/C unit. (I think this is it!)