In 2001 while residing in Cincinnati, I auditioned for The Movement, a made-for-television movie produced by Dreambuilder Celebration and sponsored by Procter & Gamble that was aired in January 2002. At the initial audition, I was called in for one of the leading roles that of Jayni, a young social worker or homeless shelter volunteer (I can't recall which). As I picked up the sides laid out on the table for this character, I noticed sides for Young Mrs. Wallington, a school teacher. Mrs. Wallington was another main character, but she was a retired school teacher. Young Mrs. Wallington was a supporting character, but I thought it would be wise to audition for that role as well, so I scooped up those sides and prepared for both while sitting in the waiting area.
When I walked into the room, the director and producers were all there. I did my read for Jayni, they gave me some adjustments then I read again. Before I left, I asked them if I could also read for Young Mrs. Wallington. The director responded that this was only a small supporting role in a flashback scene. I told him that I didn't care and that I'd really like to read for it, so they granted my request.
A couple days later, I received a call from my agent saying that I had a call back for the role of Young Mrs. Wallington. 'That was a good call on my part,' I thought.
When I arrived at the call backs, I scrutinized the ladies they were casting for both old and young Mrs. Wallington. I was trying to determine which older women I most closely resembled. The stressful aspect of this call back was that they were casting each role on the spot. As I watched the older actresses being eliminated, I was assessing my chances of being cast as her young counterpart. In the end, the woman I most thought would work with my physicality did not get the role. The woman who was cast, I felt looked nothing like me; however, I was determined that my assessment would not interfere with my audition.
Next, the director came out and informed us that all the Jayni candidates would be considered for Young Mrs. Wallington as well. 'Great,' I thought, 'my competition just doubled' (there were eight Jaynis and eight Young Mrs. Wallingtons). So began the most grueling audition I've experienced to date.
Prior to reading for the role (every round) each of us was positioned next to retired Mrs.Wallington so that the director and producers could examine our physical similarity. As the elimination process began, the pressure began to build. Those casting brought us all in at once, after having discussed who would not be advancing to the next round, and dismissed those they did not want to see again. To say it was nerve-wracking as the names were read is an understatement. I did not want to hear my name.
The first audition round included all sixteen us, after which four Jaynies and four teachers were eliminated. In the next round, two Jaynies and two teachers left the group, which left two actors for each role. They cast the role of Jayni first then Young Mrs. Wallington. The two of us being considered for Young Mrs. Wallington were waiting patiently outside the room to hear the decision. My competition was an attractive young woman who was probably eight years my junior.
Finally, the director appeared and looked at both of us. My heart was racing and the tension was mounting. He turned to me and said, "Deborah, we'd like for you to play the role of Young Mrs. Wallington." Inside I was jumping up and down and screaming in jubilation, but on the outside, I remained cool and calm because the woman who did not get cast was sitting right next to me. However, once she left, I let loose, thanking them all for the opportunity, and as I walked to my car, basking in the euphoria of having landed the role. (I later found out that they'd auditioned actors in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville, and that knowledge made me feel even more honored to have been cast and prouder of my accomplishment.)
It was because I dared ask to read for that supporting role that I had the opportunity to perform it. That was the last time I asked to read for a role for which I was not brought in to audition. In the years since, I've left many auditions thinking I would be better suited for different roles yet have not had the courage (or even the thought) to request to read for them while in front of the casting directors.
Asking for what we desire is difficult for most of us. Sometimes, we feel we do not deserve what we would like—a promotion, a raise, a role, a date, an interview, you name it. In my case, I don't want to hear the word "no" or feel the sting of rejection (I get rejected enough at auditions).
Fear of not having enough money is also a major factor in determining what I pursue and to what extent I pursue it. Money is a barrier that prevents many people from pursuing their passion, but it need not be with a little planning. I am a financially responsible person, and if I want to focus more on acting and to travel globally, I need to figure out how to make those happen within my financial security boundaries so that I'm not freaking out about my money situation.
I have always professed to being a cautious risk-taker which has served me well, up until now. Goals and dreams have been met to a certain degree and at a certain level over the years, but it's time to "up the ante", as they say (whoever "they" may be). To do that I will need to be more audacious and self-confident (even if I am only acting "as if").
This year my one resolution is to be more fearless by taking more risks in pursuit of all my goals, asking for what I want, and refusing to take "no" for an answer. I hope to report positive results on December 31, 2012.
May 2012 be a happy, healthy, prosperous, and fearless year for you, dear reader. Happy New Year!