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What are the rules? Very few, I hope. I firmly believe there is no right way to live; no right thing to believe; no right reaction; no right partner; no right place to live; no right way to make money; no right way to spend money; or in other words, there is no right. Once a friend of mine died and came to me the next day and I said wow are you OK and what was going on and what had he found out he didn't know before and he said "I don't know anything, Sheilagh, except I know whatever you do, mean it." And he never came to me again. I guess he thought that was enough of a conversation to last me a lifetime. It was. I'll never forget it.
Of course, believing there is nothing right means I have to believe there is also nothing wrong. And I do. But I also believe there are a few universal laws of the universe and they are all right, and none of them is wrong, and I don’t know what in hell they are. If you do, please tell. Yet there is a glimmer of what may be a universal law recognizably around me sometimes … what I hope is a universal law based on quantum vibrational physics and sometimes referred to as the universal law of thoughts become things.
A few months ago I got in a kind of uproar about why a certain casting director who casts a lot I mean a lot of TV hasn’t called me in (let's refer to this person as CD, for simplicity's sake). Has never called me in. Never ever. We have so many TV shows shooting here in NYC - some say 50, some say 100 - that this CD must be digging the gutter for new-to-this-CD talent and why am I never called in? FGS, how many judges on how many TV shows can the same guest star play?
It must be my rep’s fault. That’s the actress’ knee-jerk reaction to frustration about not having what she wants, yes? Reality check: I have a rep that gets me seen, at times gets me seen a lot. I've had 30 auditions in the past three months. My rep also has an open-door policy. Enviable, I know, and I am grateful for it all and in fact express that gratitude often - especially when opening that door, which I also do often. Recently my assistant rep mentioned he has some clients who repeatedly refuse appointments for seemingly nonsensical reasons and are not so respectful or professional - and my response was do they not know how privileged they are to be represented? Not only am I privileged, I’m always greeted with a friendly smile and an excited welcome.
On this uproar day, friendly smiles and excited welcomes didn’t seem to calm me, and I went right into “why can’t I get seen by this CD, blah blah blah?” There are all sorts of rep answers to this question, which question has absolutely no answer at all unless asked of the CD, but my caring reps always try to speak reasonably to any unreasonableness I may bring to them. After this answer and that answer then what answer then why answer then even another answer followed by an upteenth answer all being offered and my rejecting each and every one, I end the conversation with even more frustration by proclaiming “Mark my word, I’ll get into that CD’s office yet.” (It was kinda like a Scarlett O'Hara "I'll never go hungry again moment" without the dirt on the face and the plantation in the background or the erudite Southern accent or the flattering lighting and definitely lacking the orchestra rising)
Now, what I was really declaring was if you can’t get me in there, someone or something else will, and I’ll figure that out, dammit, I will. This is never ever ever a wise way to declare my thoughts, but I'm passionate and driven, both of which can lead to a momentary-or-longer lack of wisdom. My rep then gets extra calm, while obviously trying to manage personal alarm at perhaps watching a decent client implode, and quietly says to me “You’d better not go to the office and demand to be seen or you’ll never ever ever be called in.” Of course, I wouldn’t do that unless I was signing off from acting forever (not possible) and wanted to make a big mess of a lot of stuff as I did (not my scene), but I suspect my outer behavior didn’t properly reflect my inner sanity, leading to my rep's “You’d better not …” warning. So I hushed up and said good bye.
I think of getting into that CD’s office frequently; maybe not daily but multiple times a week. I don’t do this thinking with rancor or frustration any more; not with anything really but determination and patience. I think about it for a New York Minute, then go on to the next thought. But think about it I do.
A few days ago I opened my day gig office door to walk down the hall to the restroom so I could wash out some glassware I had been using to make an herbal formula. My sweet adorbs across-the-hall neighbor’s door opened two seconds later and out came a boldfaced name (let's call this person BN for simplicity's sake). This BN is EXACTLY the star and executive producer of the show that started my uproar in the first place. It's a multi-year hit prime time TV show AND is cast by CD. Nice. Proximity to what we want is always nice. Not as good as being it, but nice any way, and I like to think predictive of what's to come. Truth to tell, BN didn't "come out" of the neighbor's door, BN "swooshed out" in a rush of energy particular to this BN’s persona – with the sweet adorbs calling out after BN “you need a key.” Since I was already a few steps ahead of BN, I said “come with me, I’ll let you in,” and BN did and then I washed my glassware and pretended not to listen to BN pee.
I will not reveal either the BN's or the CD's genders or given names and will let you guess whether I was using the gal or guy restroom. You know my gender, I know my gender, I love my gender, I love all genders, I wish to be no other gender than my own, but if you really know me you also know I might use any restroom I’d like – not for any political reason but definitely for practicality. I can still giggle about the time circumstance led me to the men’s room at a Broadway theatre when the pre-show ladies’ room line was absolutely outrageous and it was already 4 minutes past published curtain time and I was not going to miss curtain-up for gender-inequality issues. As I rushed into the men’s room, a departing man said politely “this isn’t the ladies’ room,” and the man right behind him bellowed “that’s no lady.” And I thought fuck you and peed and made curtain up.
Returning to the current restroom at hand story, BN came out of the stall, I said let me move from the sink so you can wash up, BN asked what I was making, conversation ensued about what I do, BN thinks this is cool, I say yes it is and I’m also an actress and haven’t been on your show yet but when I can finally get into that CD’s door, I will be. (Look, I know that may read as presumptuous and obnoxious and entitled and arrogant and over-confident, but I sincerely meant it; it’s inevitable. This was not a ploy; it was an authentic statement of fact. One of the reasons I get frustrated about not being called in by that CD is that that CD usually casts shows that I’m absolutely perfect for.)
Let me write for a moment about ploys. I hate them. I hate marketing people and branders who are half my age taking money from actors teaching them how to ploy their way to success. I hate hearing stories of waiting at stage doors or near TV/Film actor trailers with a calling card or showing up at an agent's door with a song and a dance and the agent's favorite cupcake, all with the intention of "making it." I was once aghast watching an actor approach a major star I mean major who has spoken of difficulties in learning lines and this actor stopping the star to tell him of an app he could get that will help him. FGS, people, get a grip. Yes, I know there are stories of success based on these actions, but mostly creatives hanging around working actors/busy agents/stars reeks of desperation and misplaced intention. Just live your effing lives and you're successful everyday. Some days putting my feet on the floor shortly after awakening is my success. Life is hard. Life is wonderful and superb, no one loves Life more than I, I am always reaching beyond my grasp, and Life is hard. Just do what's in front of you - or as Thornton Wilder wrote for Sabina in THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH: My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate — that's my philosophy. If you have to have a motto, this is a worthy one.
Back to the restroom encounter … I started to leave thinking that would be the end of the conversation but BN immediately replied “that (insert CD name) is a dick" (please know the term “dick” can be easily referring to a gal or a guy in both my and this BN’s world, but irrespective of the "dick's" gender, it is not a compliment and its meaning, derivation and use could create an entirely new conversation which I'll put aside for now). BN continued: "You get in touch with that CD and tell that CD you and I are old friends and that that CD needs to call you in and get you a job on the show – a good job. What’s your name? I’ll remember that. My first boyfriend’s mother had the same name.” I told BN I will certainly do that, thank you, and off we went to our respective destinations.
I don't take Life in stride. I readily admit to returning to my day gig office and sitting down all by myself for a few minutes to review the happening and enjoy the kismet. Life can be so wonderfully unsettling and messy and funny and kooky and hopeful, which are just five reasons I love Life so.
Now you all know that my note with the BN-old-friend-story along with my headshot and resume will be in that CD's office this week. Admittedly, this is jumping the gun and putting the cart before the horse all at the same time, but I will write it anyway: I’ll let you know when I have my first appearance on the show, in what I intend to be a series regular role. Then we can all celebrate the BN and giggle at the CD being called out for being a dick.
Look, I either get it or I don't. And if I'm going to intend, I may as well intend as I damn well wish. A series regular it is. Yes, yes, CD has to open the envelope first, read its contents, then call me, then I have to audition, then I have to book. But that is inevitable as well. After all, I'm old friends with BN, the star/executive producer.
Right around the same time I got myself into an uproar about that CD not calling me in, I also got into the “why don’t I have network auditions” uproar. (There was never really any uproar in any of this story. It was just the power and passion of desire. To an outsider unused to being around artists or children, this may appear uproar-ish. To artists and children it is a daily way of being and I wanted non-artist and non-children readers to understand this all is not an even-keeled approach to life, we don't know from even-keeled, and while it is uproarish to you, it is daily living to us)
I'm at a place in my life and my work where network casting should rightly know me and my work and I am NOT going to pay money to meet a CD - I don't care who the CD is. I think it is outrageous that this is a multiple-decade side-business now and I take great satisfaction in LA's crackdown on this crap. When I was acting in the '80s, an agent or CD who took money from a creative was in danger of being disassociated from her/his professional organization(s). And if you’re a CD/Agent reading this who takes money from actors or an actor who pays money to meet CDs/Agents I think you need to really think about this more. If CDs/Agents are legitimately using this service to meet new talent to expand the casting/client possibilities, then they need to get behind both actors AND CDs paying an equal fee to whatever middleman organization is brokering the meeting so everybody gets to pay for their respective benefits of these meetings. We’ll then see just how long this way of meeting lasts. I know everybody needs to make a buck, but this isn't a good choice.
Returning to the “why don’t I have network auditions,” I started to think about this a lot just like I was thinking about this CD not calling me in and a few months later was renewing my lease for my day gig office when the leasing agent asked how my acting was going. I said great and told her about a few things happening and she said “you know, my best friend is blahblahblah (head of casting at a major network).” Let’s call that person HOCAAMN - for simplicity’s sake. (That was wry) I replied HOCAAMN had a great reputation, was known to be clear and supportive at auditions, and that I hadn’t met HOCAAMN yet but I will, and then returned my focus to negotiating my new lease, which didn't get very far when she said “here’s his email address. You should get in touch with him and use my name.” I did. I am now on tape at the network’s casting office, having had a lovely meeting and read two scenes with HOCAAMN. And you are dead wrong if you think I wasn't in a somewhat dreamlike state entering the Network office building and going to security and getting my access approval, going up in the elevator and getting off at the wrong floor, being escorted to the right floor by a sweet old guy who totally understood how I could be somewhat distracted and who wished me luck and told me I'd be great, and also telling my VIA driver on the way to the Network offices that I was a little nervous about my next meeting and him saying (please add very thick New York/Latino accent here) "Cheela, you got dis. Deese is your day, Cheela" which proclamation I absolutely told the HOCAAMN in answer to his "how are you?" It was a wonderful event, from soup to nuts a wonderful event.
This thoughts become things just has to be a universal law, don’t you think?
I read a book years ago that I found repeatedly promising then disappointing then promising then disappointing then promising then disappointing but I couldn’t seem to put it in the giveaway pile in our building’s laundry room book bin. I thought I was daft or at least self-punishing to continue reading it, yet I persisted without explanation. And don’t you know there was one part that really struck me and absolutely made up for the promising-disappointing cycle, though admittedly once that part was read the remainder of the book repeated its promising-disappointing cycle to the last feckin' word. The protagonist tells the Leprechaun if he really is a Leprechaun then he should create a pot of gold. The pot of gold immediately appears. (This story is supposed to have been factual to the writer’s summer in Ireland, but I think the whole thing’s a pile o’ shite) The protagonist then whines about why she can’t do that herself and the Leprechaun replies all that’s needed is a thought and poof it’s there AND he assures her that humans are better at manifesting than any Leprechaun. BUT, he continued, humans do one thing which is peculiar to just their species: once they think of what they want to create they immediately start to list all the reasons why it’s not possible. Gobsmacked I was by this and keep myself in check frequently from going down that useless road of reasons why things are not possible.
Look, possible or not, if I have a thought why not keep thinking it until it becomes a thing … or until I get a better thought ... or I die? This story is some of why I am certain some BNs are menches, some CDs are dicks, some day gigs lead to creative successes, all creatives and children are capable of daily uproar, and one of the few universal laws is thoughts become things.