This Job is Not Your Job
I recently found myself in one of those audition situations where I truly felt I had no business being there. It was for a medium in which I'm still training and gaining experience. My agent had given me a slight breakdown the night before, and while most of the details were strangely hush-hush, I could tell that I wasn't really right for the part.
"Oh well", I thought. "I'm not gonna type myself out of a role. There's plenty of people there that will do it for me. My job is to show up."
Who knows? Perhaps they were bringing me in for variety. Perhaps they weren't sure what they wanted and had offered the initial breakdown as a template, but were open to more liberal interpretations of the part. I confirmed the audition.
Then, as though that pressure wasn't enough, I could tell from little peaks every time the door opened that the room was packed. I started to panic.
"There are multiple decision makers in the room, I am wrong for the part, and I am going to blow it!
For the briefest moment my fight or flight response said, "Peace out, fast!" But that really isn't my style, and I'd hate to piss off my agent. Plus, I'd left a class in midtown and splurged on a cab to make it to the audition on time. I'm too cheap to waste the cash, even if I think I might crash and burn.
Then it dawned on me that I was creating a mental reality in which I would surely fail. I was engaging in destructive self-talk, and that's b.s. I decided to change my thought process. Sure, I was feeling a great deal of fear, but this experience wasn't torture. It was an AUDITION. The kind we actors fight for. And I won't allow myself to label an audition as anything other than an opportunity, regardless of how out of place I feel.
I needed a deliberate mindset in order to go forward with confidence. So I had a pow-wow with myself in the corner. Here's how it went:
"First, you need to acknowledge that this job is not your job. It belongs to any one of the more seasoned and clearly more type-appropriate women around you. (Sounds defeatist, but bear with me.) So what does it matter what happens in there? You have nothing to lose. There's no reason to feel fear because there is nothing to be afraid of. This job is not your job. Never was. Now get in there, have fun, and act your tail off. Show em what they'll get when they hire you for the next one."
So that's what I did. I walked in confidently... and had a fantastic time! I didn't embarrass myself and I didn't waste my opportunity. I did what I was there to do, and I left feeling darn good about the process. Especially the part where I got out of my own way and left fear in the corner.
I wish I could follow this tale up with how I ultimately booked the job. I didn't. That would be a great ending. But I have a feeling this isn't over. We are always sowing seeds...
(Photo by Cathryn Lundgren)