Making the choice to work in the arts is a difficult one. Performing or otherwise. And every time I have doubted in the path that I'm following, something has happened to help me "keep the faith".
It all started the Monday evening before I pitched up for an extra taekwondo training, not realising that it was specifically extra sparring training. All the other girls knew this, and had decided not to come. So I was the only girl. I knew that I had an audition on Tuesday, so made sure that my face was protected. Which meant sacrificing an elbow and a foot in the process. Which meant that I headed off to my audition on Tuesday with a swollen foot, a bruised elbow, scratches on my decollate from being assaulted with a bouquet that weekend and a lovely burn on my upper arm from a hot restaurant pan. I was quite literally bruised and battered. But I was there, and enthusiastic. And apparently I was funny. As I finished my audition the casting director laughed and sent me on my way.
By Friday my bruises had darkened, but my burn was receding when my agents name flashed on my phone. Every time my previous agent’s name appeared in a similar manner my heart was in a flutter as he only ever called for a call back or the confirmation of a casting. Any other communication was designated to emails. But my present agent calls often to check in, hear about my availability, or if I’m interested in auditioning for a project. So when my phone rang on Friday morning I was non-plussed:
“You have a call back on Monday evening at 5:45. Can I confirm you?”
They most certainly could.
“Are you still available for the shoot dates on Wednesday and Thursday?”
I most certainly was.
On Monday my agent called again. I needed to be on standby for a wardrobe call the next day at 13:00 in Johannesburg. Which meant that if and when I was confirmed for the role I needed to be in Johannesburg at 13:00 on Tuesday. I had an appointment with our wedding planner at 14:00 on Tuesday. I decided that I wasn’t going to cancel until I knew. If I didn’t get the part I would want to be busy on Tuesday afternoon, not thinking about the girl who got the part flitting around trying on different costume options for the role. I emailed the wedding planner and let her know that I would let her know once the producer had let me know if I had the role and had to be at wardrobe. She was ok with it.
After a glamorous lunch-time beach-look casting I prepared myself for my farm-girl call back. I arrived half an hour early for my call back, as per usual. And I waited. In the corner sat the girl I was up against for the part. I knew it was her as I had googled her CV when I saw the list for the call backs. We were both wearing the exact same blue colour, and her shirt and my dress had the same neckline. The other four roles were set, and it was just our role left to confirm. We sat on opposite sides of the room, each keeping to ourselves as the rest of the cast filtered into the waiting room. As we had to be a family it was important to see both of us with the rest of the cast before the director decided who they would use. About 45 minutes after our designated time the director and producer walked into the waiting room after having battled with peak hour Johannesburg traffic. The cast and the girl in blue in the corner were called into the audition space as she had been there before me.
“Good luck” I said with a smile. I had decided a long time ago that I would be one of those people that build up the competition. I don’t want to get a role by breaking someone else down. Either I’m good enough and the director wants me, or she’s better for the part and the director wants her. It’s nothing personal, simply the nature of our business. The door had barely closed when I was called in.
“We might as well brief both of you at the same time” the producer said to me as I walked into the space.
And literally three minutes later it was over.
The other girl in blue sat between the members of our screen family and did as we were instructed once. Then we swapped. And we were out.
Before we left we were asked to bring some articles of our own clothes in specific styles to set.
“The production team will make a decision about who the final cast is at 11 tomorrow”
We knew it was just about the two of us, but I was thankful that the producer wasn’t making it any more uncomfortable than what it needed to be.
“We will call you to confirm that roles at 11 tomorrow, and then you need to be at wardrobe at 1”
After waiting for more than an hour it was all over in three minutes. As my fiancé and I drove home I think he heard every iteration in existence of “I think it went well.” And the waiting game was afoot.
On Tuesday at 10:50 I messaged my fiancé:
“In ten minutes I’ll know”
“Are you expecting them to let you know punctually?”
By 11:30 the questions and reassurances were running through my head.
Positive: “I’m sure they’re just late and they will still let me know”
Negative: “But maybe they already decided and you just don’t have the part and they’re not going to let you know”
Positive: “You’re learned in the past that they say they’re going to let you know at a specific time. Then you convince yourself 2 hours after the said time that you don’t have the part. And then they call you”
I am in the lucky position that I have never been turned down for a film role after a call back, and only once for a theatre role.
Negative: “It’s too late. Its 12:00. You can’t make it to wardrobe by 13:00. If they were going to use you they would have let you know so that you could be by wardrobe at 13:00”
I emailed my agent to inform them that I would be late for the wardrobe call, if I was cast for the role.
My fiancé suggested that I pack my bag for wardrobe and go to Centurion. If I didn’t get the role I could make my meeting with the wedding planner in Centurion, and if I did get the role I would be closer to Johannesburg. I should have taken his advice in retrospect.
But in that moment I couldn’t. I couldn’t pack a bag full of costume options and then not get the role. It would crush me to have to pack all the clothes back into my cupboard without having gotten the role and done the work.
At 12:15 I couldn’t hold out anymore. As I picked up cell phone to call my agent, my phone started vibrating in my hand…