The driver

 

While traveling for press recently, I had a driver.  Let’s call him Jim.

The driver thing is a bizarre luxury, that as a working actor, strangely becomes the norm.  There are no cabs, or driving yourself and looking for parking (only to come back to a ticket for an expired meter because the appointment ran late — because, god do I remember those days).  Instead, there is a driver in a suit, with a sign that has your name on it, and doors that are opened, and luggage that is carted, and waters and mints and magazines in the backseat.  His job is to get you from point A to point B, sans stress, all the while being professional and discreet.  Like the secret service — except they won’t take a bullet for you.

Back to Jim.  Who is waiting in the wrong area at the airport.  Can’t find him.  Whose sign has my full name on it.  Kind of a no-no (usually it’s just a first initial and last name, and just the last name).  These are things that I notice, but that don’t bug me in the least.  I am generally a go with the flow kinda gal, and we still have to wait for the luggage.

Then I remember that first impressions matter for a reason….and this is where the Jim story really begins.

He introduces himself, and says he wants to show me something.  He then starts pulling up photos on his iPhone of pictures of himself with his cat.  Self-portraits that run the gamut of him snuggled up to his feline companion to the two of them having breakfast.  The luggage is taking a painfully long time to come out of the carousel, so I bide my time listening to circus of stories that Jim has to offer.  The most compelling is how he used to be a fueler for the airlines, and would “never ever get on a plane again after seeing what really goes on back there.”

I look at him. “Jim, I have five flights in the next ten days.”

His face contorts in an expression that can only say, “You’re fucked.”

Wonderful.

We get the luggage, push our way to the car, and I let myself in with the sobering notion that I five death flights remaining in the next few days.  (Let me also explain that my hours of shooting have been brutal, so I am exhausted through all of this as well. I need to say that in an effort to qualify any of the jackassery that may ensue).

I ask Jim for a bottle of water, realizing there aren’t any in the cup holders.  “Sure,” he says, as he opens his plastic lunch bag, and fishes out a half empty bottle of Vitamin Water.  He hands it to me.  It has a distressed purple label, it’s been refilled with water, and he clearly drank half this morning. Probably with his cat.

“Oh, oh no — that’s ok,” I say, my big sunglasses hiding the confusion that has rapidly spread across my face.

He turns around to face me from the front seat. “Come on, come on! I insist.” I just smile politely and shake my head no. “Don’t be silly, come on.  Drink some.”

And this is the moment where I think: “This is how girls get raped.”

My brain floods with scenes of Jeff Bridges in that movie “The Vanishing,” smothering some polite young lady’s dumbass face with a handkerchief so he could kidnap her.  And while Jim is probably the most harmless person in the world, I come to the stark conclusion that I am not interested in either abduction or backwash.  Not on this Thursday afternoon.

I decline.  I close my eyes for the hour long car ride, thinking of patience and kindness — chuckling at the absurdity of this start to a press trip, and trying to practice grace.

An hour later he opens the door of the car.  We’ve arrived….to the wrong address.

That’s Jim.

 

Tadasana

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I practice yoga, and of all the complicated poses that I look forward to, there is one simple pose that I relish.  It’s called tadasana, or mountain pose.  

The first time I remember the instructor saying “tadasana,” I sort of chuckled to myself.  Not because of the sanskrit, but because the actor in me only heard TAH-DAH!

So there I stood, with my arms to my side, and my chest open and proud, posture perfect, breathing in the moment, as though accepting a standing ovation, thinking “TAH-DAH, here I am!”

I still think that at every class, and I still enjoy my moment of tah-dah(sana)!  

Go to a class…you’ll see what I mean.

My new life

I’ve done it again.  I’ve done that thing where I become so consumed with the working of “working” that I have lapsed immensely in the blog.  I’m sorry.

I have to be honest — I had no idea.  I had no idea what being a working actress would entail.  I work long hours.  I travel for press.  My mind memorizes.  My mind spins.  My relationships falter.  My days blur.  My nights are restless.  My hair is primped, my face is painted, my name is recognized, my star meter is rising…my life is changing.

And it’s fucking scary.

And the past month has been full of so many stories that I’ve wanted to share.  And that I will.  They are in my wheelhouse of memories that I promise to divulge — they run the gamut from “the driver,” to “the stylist,”  to “the publicist,” to  the woman who vomited on my feet.  It’s been an eventful month.

Sending love, reminding you to keep up the hustle, and reiterating that despite the absurdity of this newfound life of mine, that it is, without an iota of doubt, worth it.  It really is.

To be continued….

I’m a show pony

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A lot of us were getting sick on set — the aftermath of travel for press and upfronts. So in an effort to not become one giant petrie dish of talent, the producers called the doctor to check us out.

Here is where the truth of my job sank in.  It wasn’t the fact that a doctor could be on call and rush to set, and how fancy and luxurious that is.  It wasn’t the fact that said doctor showed up within an hour of my throat starting to hurt.  Nope, that’s cool too — but that wasn’t the revelation.

What was it, you ask? The remedy.  A studio doctor’s cure-all.  The B-12 shot in the butt.  That, right there, was my “ah-ha” moment.

Now perhaps this guy just wants to see a lot of actor ass crack, in which case, I stand corrected and say, my theory is off.  However, my sense is this: we are a product.  And just as if you were showing your horse and he was lagging, you would have the vet give him a shot in the ass so he could go and trot real pretty like…ya hear?  It has much less to do with curing the root of the problem, and much more to do with making sure their product can deliver.

As actors we are no different.  We need to show, and perform well, and have a glorious gait.  So whether your lymphnodes are swollen, or your ears hurt. B-12 shot. If your stomach aches, or you twisted your ankle. B-12 shot.  Frankly, if you get punched in the face, you’ll probably still get a B-12 shot.

You know….so you can trot real pretty like.

Upfronts, glorious upfronts

It’s that time of year again — when NY is inundated with the Hollywood television  contingency for the network upfront presentations.

If you aren’t familiar with Upfronts, it’s basically the time of year when each network announces their lineup of shows for the season. But it’s not just an “Ahem, I have an announcement,” like at school when the principal comes on the loudspeaker. It’s a glitzy, glammy presentation for advertisers, who drink martinis with “brine foam” (because that’s cool, ya know – molecular gastronomy, yada yada), and eat amuse bouches while watching Grammy award winning artists sing, and rubbing elbows with TV talent, all to decide if they want to sink their company’s money into advertising for one of these shows. (It would make a great episode for “Mad Men” come to think of it…but who knows when Upfronts formally began.  I digress.)

I am part of the horse and pony show this year.  The scruffle has already begun with production and PR — the outfit I will wear, the hotel I will stay at, the parties I will attend (beyond the networks, each agency has a big to-do),  the first class flights the studio sends me out on.  They roll out the red carpet in a major way — because they want me (“the talent” as they call us….which is another blog post, for another time) to show up looking and presenting in the best possible manner.

Like if you’re six, and you’re Catholic, and your mom is taking you to meet the Pope. Best be sure that you will be wearing the perfect little white outfit, having had a good breakfast, and knowing exactly what to say, and your mom will have spat on her hand a few times to smooth down your hair. Because this is your moment to shine.

This is the ultimate “dance, monkey, dance.”

Now let me just say this — as much as some people may hear this description and feel nauseated by it (that inner monologue of “but, I am an artiste”), I say this to you, dear friend: Get over yourself.

This is part of the job, and it’s fucking awesome.  It’s fancy, and cool, and it’s the business of what it takes to make it in this business.  If you are pursuing television, then realize that you have already sold out, and take your big fancy paycheck to produce your “artiste” driven plays on hiatus.  Because you can now.  Because flashing those pearly whites (ahem, veneers), and working the red carpet with your sexy little body (ahem, spanx) is part of the job description you jumped on board for when you were lucky enough to sign on the dotted line that day you were testing.

This is what we call a high class problem.  And compared to the problems of what feels like many moons ago (not having money to fill up my gas tank, scotch taping my headshots and resumes because I ran out of staples, crying because I couldn’t get a callback, or even an audition — when I knew in my core that I was the best one for that part), I will take this any day.

*PS — in this and all posts, if a word is underlined, click on it…just sayin. You may find more goodness.

My glamorous life

There were two essential matters of business today: foreign press interviews & fixing my dishwasher.  Both of complete and utter importance. In no particular order.

What I didn’t seem to work out properly was the timing of it all.  Because as I’m sitting in my pajamas, delving into questions about my character on the phone with some journalist from the UK, the door knocks.  Of course, it’s the dishwasher repairman.

I let him in and within minutes he is head deep in my dishwasher, asking for towels, as water spills all over the floor.  I’m mopping up the puddles while answering questions on the phone about the “dynamic on set” and “red carpet events.”  My hair is a mess, my teeth haven’t been brushed, and for this journalist on the line knows, I am dolled up and camera ready, sitting in my glamorous home where things like dishwashers never break.

Not so much.

I wrap up the call.  I put down the mop.  The handyman wraps up his work and writes down my credit card number.  And as though, his head was so far up the dishwasher that he didn’t hear any of my conversation, he looked at me and froze.  For the first time in those 30 minutes in my apartment, he saw me. He recognized me.

So, there, in my sweatpants, with morning breath and scruffy hair, I took a picture with my handyman.  He wanted to prove to his brother and dad that he’d met me.

And while this is not glamorous to most, this is my kind of homegrown glamour.   It’s never going to be picture perfect, and maybe that’s the fun of it all.

 

 

Your TV family

I was given advice many moons ago about people in the industry.  “These people are not your friends.”  I thought it was misguided, inaccurate, and I was convinced that while I did an arc on a show, the people I was befriending on the cast would be at my wedding, and exchange recipes with me, and become my daily running partners, and we would proverbially braid each others’ hair while sipping cocoa (or some romanticized version of what friendship looks like).  And frankly, they did. We jogged, we cooked, we talked about vacations and life plans; hair was never braided, but booze spiked cocoa was certainly sipped.  They really were my friends…until I stopped working on the show, that is.

And so it was with trepidation that once I became a series regular, that I opened up my heart to the idea that my castmates would, indeed, become not just my friends, but my “family.”  My TV Family.

I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for these people.  Our melange of personalities, somehow melding together just so.  Somedays I am like the big sister, other days, the little mom, but most days what I am, more than anything, is their friend.

The past few days, I had felt forlorn, (as we all know because I shouted it from the rooftops), and they embraced it.  They coddled my neediness, while checking their judgment at the front door.  They understood me when I explained that my Rosetta Stone tapes and various hobbies felt like filler vs purpose driven life choices.  And while my beau was in town this weekend, they greeted him with warmth and love and inclusion.  They love him as much as they love me.  And it literally made my heart go pitter pat.

This is all to say that I’m grateful.  That the waves of loneliness and happiness will ebb and flow through this bizarre new life that I live, but that having this “family” makes it much more comforting. Perhaps even idyllic.

At least until we renegotiate.  And then this shit might very well turn into Hunger Games.  Just sayin…