This Hollywood Actor Prep Guest Post was written by an actress who will be appearing on television tonight.
Watch her on NBC’s ‘Outsourced’.
Big Acting Dream, Big Difficulties Breaking In
I wanted to share a little account of this journey to dreams with you.
I feel blessed right now. I am an American actress of South Asian origin and have been pursuing acting for awhile.
I have done supporting and leading roles on stage & independent films.
I strongly committed myself to becoming an acting professional, in what ways I could. Sometimes that meant working as background. The extra roles helped earn money, and I took these roles, on & off, in TV or Films…hoping for any speaking roles.
I got only a few auditions a year. I had no agent.
Specific Acting Type For Casting, ‘Ethnic’
I sometimes felt that I didn’t get hired much because I was too ethnic . Often, people that I met, from inside the
Industry told me so, as well.
I worked on myself, my attitude. A seminar last year which helped me become more confident and take chances and get out of my own way.
I am signed up with Central Casting & call the hotlines to find work. I have been signed up with all the online casting places, and checked them all the time.
I was lucky if I got 4 days a month of work or lot of auditions. I got a few great opportunities in some indie films thru a friend, a Casting Director.
That was about it.
Consistently, I Looked For Acting Jobs
I heard on the Central Casting call lines, and saw a post online: ‘Open Call For A New Pilot. They were looking for people of
East Indian/South Asian origins for background work. I just decided to go for it because I needed money to pay bills too.
When I went to the Open Call, I took along some family members too!
While there, those who ran the casting asked if they could take a photo of me. Soonafter, I got a phone call requesting me to drop off my acting headshot, my 8X10. That night, I got a call that the Producers had picked me
from my picture to go to an interview.
From Background To: Featured, Under-Five Contract
The Producers wanted to meet me about for a possible Featured/Under-Five role, at Universal. (Under five means: the actor has less than 5 lines.)
I went with excitement; early. I felt enthusiastic, and decided before I went in: If something happened fine, and if not, its ok. (Last fall I had stood in line at Actorfest to meet with NBC/Universal’s Diversity Call, and I barely got in.)
Other actors were also there for an interview, also called in. I met with the executive producer and the 1st AD whom I remember from doing background work some years back, I wondered if he remembered me- (but didn’t ask!)
They asked about myself. I remember saying at the end: “Please hire me if you think I’m suitable for the role.” (That day I felt in the zone, like I had nothing
to lose because I was already way at the bottom…thoughts were: so I will do my best + be who I am + if that’s not good enough then so what…)
Soon, I got a call that I was booked for 5 days that was called a ‘Call Center Worker’. Upgraded to a Featured Player/Possible Under 5. I was very excited to have a chance to work.
I was also to go to a wardrobe fitting. The funny thing was, I got booked on another Background role one day on a film: two fittings on the same day. That never happened before! I made it to both. (When it rains…!)
Actors Unions : Was SAG But Not AFTRA
A little complication occurred at this time. I have been a SAG actor for good amount of time. Before I ever went for the Outsourced Open Call, I had considered joining AFTRA, because many pilots were AFTRA this season. I had even gone to the AFTRA office, inquiring about possible payment plans. I wanted to join then, but I had no extra savings.
Outsourced, as it turned out, was an AFTRA pilot. An AFTRA show.
Because I had previously worked background on other AFTRA jobs; under AFTRA’s rules, I was now what’s called a ‘Must-Join’. With this union status, I wouldn’t be able to work if I did not join AFTRA first. (I hadn’t known about this at all, I had never gotten any letter or similar.)
There was no possible payment plan either for the AFTRA initiation fee, in order to work as an actor under AFTRA, I had to pay fully, within 2 days.
I had to ask for help, from some of those same family members I took along to the ‘Extras Open Call’! My parents, brother; even my mom’s aunt and uncle came thru for me, and helped me. I joined online. (I knew I would be able to pay them back, with what my paycheck, from the new booking.)
Working On The Pilot For Outsourced, On The Set, As An Actor
I loved the environment of the production & loved the feel of the show. I wanted to make a positive contribution and give 100%.
It doesn’t matter to me whether an acting part is big or small, I strive to do my best.
I was happy to work with the cast and crew because they also gave 100% of their enthusiasm. There was a wonderful energy around!
I was excited to work, to create. sometimes there were exchange of ideas. Working on that set was a great dynamic place. The director was the kind of director everyone admires; he is very intelligent and knows his resources, very knowledgeable.
When I learned I was one of the people who would be in the office center, which is where so much of the show takes place, I was filled with such happiness. Finally a little bit of something.
On the second day, I was looking outside and saw the deep background actors, walking back & forth. I felt teary because, that had been me, where I did background on and off in hopes of getting any role, and now I was working inside.
Upgraded Once Again
After a couple of days, I got upgraded even more…to more of a supporting actor role. Excited, I thought is there a chance that I could return to work on this show? That I could be a recurring actor on this show, if the pilot is picked up…?
They probably don’t know all the hardships that I’ve been through in pursuit of being a working actress, they probably do not know how much I appreciate that they noticed my good work. They probably don’t know that it still make me feel some tears come to me for helping me for my dreams to become reality and giving me a chance-an opportunity. That they allowed me access, to work as a professional actor.
I am thankful for the production team and the cast. The show Outsourced was picked up to air on NBC-Thursdays in the Fall. Keep an eye out!
****Added: After the Pilot was picked up and scheduled for the Fall TV Season:
Then when ‘Outsourced’ was ready for production for episodes, I was invited to come back in the same capacity & I said I would love to. They auditioned me, and I was offered a real role.
My character’s name is ‘Pinky’.
Also, as I had been looking for an talent agency that I would be compatible with for some time. Recently, I signed with an agency that I love, with a wonderful team.
The show will premiere on Thurs. Sept 23rd, 2010 on NBC after the Office.
Break a leg, everybody.
Please share with anyone and everyone who could use an inspiring, true story. Especially, share with other actors. Thank you.