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2.25.2011

"whatever you do,
don't act."

these were the words spoken to me by the producer of my very first television show thirty seconds before i walked onto the set in front of five cameras and an audience full of fifty people.

yesterday was one of the coolest days of my life, and it all began...
with scrambled eggs.


normally if i have to be somewhere early in the morning, i try to plan a to-go breakfast--an english muffin sandwich, a cliff bar, a bowl of oatmeal (surprisingly easy to eat in the car)--but yesterday morning was different. this would be my very first time ever on a hollywood set...where i was actually considered "one of the actors." granted, my role on the court show was more of an improv performance, but it was based one a page-long list of facts that i had to stick by. having just recently had an experience where showing up on time was considered "late", i knew that i wanted to give myself plenty of time in the morning. although thirty minutes was more than enough time to be out of the door, i woke up at 8 to make sure i wasn't rushed.
my call time was 11 AM.
these are all of the reasons why i knew i wouldn't be late: i practically live walking distance from the studio, my name was on the security guard's list at the gate (HOW COOL?!) so i wouldn't need to find street parking, and i was given a map so i would know exactly which building to enter.
after my dad reminded me of all of the reasons to leave yourself extra time--unexpected traffic, no parking, construction, a metor hitting the earth--i knew i wanted to be there twenty minutes early. 
i'm known for being religiously late...but today was a special day.

i felt extremely important as the guard scanned the list and checked off my name. just when i thought things couldn't get any more exciting, he handed me this:


in the past, the only time a wristband like this was slapped across my arm was at the entrance of a bar. in those scenarios, the itchy souvenir was simply an invitation to drink draft beer and remind me of the fact that i would probably wake up with the imprint of this bracelet on my forehead.
yesterday, this purple band was my hallpass to walk by myself into the giant studio lot. i may have looked about six inches tall as i walked past all of these large buildings marked with different set names and numbers, but i felt like i was on top of the world. it's not like this was paramount pictures or the warner brothers lot, but it was a real hollywood set--and i was allowed to be there.

i spotted a long line of people dressed in courtroom-looking attire and as i walked up to the first person i saw with a headset, a girl behind me tapped me on the shoulder.
"are you asking to go to the bathroom?"
i smiled at her and shook my head. i'm sure many other actors out there would have acted cocky, rolled their eyes, and told her that they weren't an extra--but this was in fact my first rodeo, so i'm in no position to be a diva. i also don't like being rude to people. i told the production assistant (on set known as a PA) that my call time was for 11 and she directed me towards the right door. i quietly stepped inside the big dark set, looked around, and realized that i was still lost. next thing i know, another headset-wearing person came my way and asked if i was in the right place. he was probably expecting me to ask where i could find the bathroom or a vending machine, but as soon as i told him my name and that i was supposed to be on set at 11, he handed me off to yet another headset-adorned person.
i followed her down a long hallway of doors marked with numbers. we stopped at #6 and she told me to wait in there. i looked around the room at the couches, the high definition television, and the private restroom. just as i got out my cell phone to snap a picture of this random fancy room, the door swung open.

"makeup is ready for you. you can leave your stuff in your dressing room, nobody will bother it."

just as i almost blurted out--"i'm sorry...i didn't understand either of the two things you just said"--she turned around and headed back down the hall. i immediately hurled my bags on the couch and took off running behind her.
don't worry, of course i got a picture of the dressing room later on:


i only got it from one angle so it's hard to see how spectacular it was. it's not like it had a chocolate fountain or a life size poster of brad pitt, but it was my first hollywood dressing room--and i loved it. i don't want to bore you with the insignificant details of the next few hours, but my day consisted of the following things:

-having some glam artist all jacked up on coffee sing along to 50 cent and do my hair and makeup
-practicing and preparing my scene with my co-star (the "defendent" in my case)
-watching bad soap operas on my own personal HDTV
-enjoying free granola bars and cheetos
-getting "mike-ed up" (with a microphone pack)
-presenting a fake "prenatal promise" case to the well-known judge gloria allred with only the information in my head and the words that came out of my ass
-WINNING said case (which was completely unplanned)
-signing appearance release forms and getting $60 for a day that was spent mostly hanging out and watching general hospital
-watching my co-star make a ridiculous scene as he claimed that we were owed $80 and then threatened to tear up his signed documents

wait.
let's rewind that last part.
in my head, the day has gone completely smooth despite the fact that production is running hours behind. this was the first day of shooting, so problems like that are completely expected. although i was enjoying hanging out in my dressing room, my co-star (we'll call him drama queen) was complaining about how long the day was taking. as he went on and on about how this gig was nothing compared to what he normally does and how $10 an hour almost made this a waste of time--i wanted to remind him that he wasn't ben affleck and that it's not like anybody was pricking us with steak knives...
we were sitting on a comfortable couch with a pile of free snacks, bottled water, and a kickass flatscreen TV.

seeing as this was my very first time doing anything like this, i was thrilled to just be there. because this show is only a pilot and not exactly a big-time production, i had no idea how i was going to be treated. not only did someone do my hair and makeup for me (i do it for myself the other 364 days of the year), but production assistants left and right were asking if i needed anything. at one point when i asked for a bottle of water, i almost wanted to tell the sweet girl with the glasses that i could get it myself.

drama queen continued to make snide remarks throughout the day, but it wasn't until we finished filming our scene that his true diva colors came out in full force. as the PA handed us our $60, his face immediately filled with anger. he screamed that LA casting's description of this shoot informed us that we would work THREE hours for $50 and then $10 an hour after that, not FIVE hours for $50 and $10 an hour after that. i could have sworn that i saw the same thing on actor's access, but i decided that i must have misread it. drama queen, on the other hand, stood up in a fit of rage claiming that if this wasn't taken care of he would make a scene, go talk to the producer, and then rip up his appearance release form. the PA and i exchanged eyes--almost as if to say "back up before his head starts spinning around like in the exorcist."

telling him to "calm down" (the PA) or "let it go" (that was me) didn't work, so PA #2 was brought into the room. as drama queen argued that he could pull up the information on his phone to prove that they were incorrect, we all waited in silent awkward suspense.
"see! it says right here! $50 for THREE to fi....oh shit. it does say three to five hours. what a waste of time. i never would have done this if i had known this. great, now i look like the asshole."

yes. yes you do.
flashback to my day: i'm polite and respectful to every person i see. i'm introducing myself, saying thank you at every opportunity i get, and making sure that everybody enjoys any time they spend around me. as drama queen sits there--red as a beet and angry as an iguana whose just lost his tail--the PA smiles and says to me, "fanny, you're good to go." i grab my sixty dollars, shake PA #2's hand, tell him i had a great day and really enjoyed myself, and walk out with a smile on my face.

moral of the story:
people may not remember your name, they may not remember when you're from, but they will certainly remember a positive attitude and someone who was pleasant to work with. drama queen will most likely never get asked to be on that set again. as for me, we'll just have to wait and see what luck brings me.


my first ticket into fame. and i loved every second of it.
well...that's all folks!
olive, hit the curtains.

1 comment:

simple girl said...

that story just got better after reading it! I'm so proud of you for your first big debut but also for keeping your cool at the end of the day and being an awesome person. you go glenn coco!