A brief anecdote from my day:
As I sat in the Actors Equity Center on Times Square at around 3 in the afternoon, having been there since 7:15am, I dozed off. This is hard to avoid on less busy days, as the seats are sublimely cushioned and there’s always a mysterious low hum that acts as white noise and encourages sweet, sweet slumber for thespians too jaded to suffer pre-audition nerves. The rest pace the room mumbling and trying out different hand gestures to punctuate their monologues; most settle for smugly flicking their wrists against their thighs for contemporary drama and sawing through the air before them with rigid hands for Shakespeare. The reason I, as a non-union actor, am allowed to idle in the inner equity sanctum is because I achieved union candidacy with a show I understudied at Berkeley Rep. The non-union non-candidates have to sit on narrow wooden benches that line the hallways outside the lobby, getting their feet stepped on by people passing through and looking slightly less pathetic than the urchin cast of Oliver Twist. Neither do they have access to the equity bath and dressingrooms. Should nature call them while they await an audition call that might never come, they must exit the building entirely and visit the begrimed and often understocked bathrooms in the Times Square Tourist Information Bureau around the corner, or to the nearest Starbuck’s 3 blocks away, and get stuck in a herd of tourists for ten minutes on the way. It is usually while one is off relieving oneself that one’s name is called due to some miracle of equity non-attendance. How many promising careers, I wonder, have been flushed through the sewers beneath the crossroads of the world?
Back to my purportedly brief story: After several hours of fighting sleep with reading Simon Callow’s Being an Actor, inwardly mocking all other white actresses in my age range present, and swaggering into the ladies’ room whenever the fancy hit me to blot my lipstick or practice scales or even visit a stall, I sat in the cushioned chair and let my head drop to my chest and my eyelids flicker shut. I don’t know how long I rested in this state, but somewherein my slumber I felt three delicate fingers on my knee, and a sugary voice inquire, “Pardon me, are you a member of SAG?” Roused, I looked up and squinted at the brightness of an ethereal Morgan Fairchild shining down on me, blonde locks backlit by the flourescent lights on the ceiling.
She furrowed her brow and glided away, addressing herself to some other actors lurking by the sign-up sheets. Soon there was a cluster of animated, chattering, apparently SAG-involved actors around the star, beaming as she described the changes she will make to the Screen Actors Guild policies if she is elected president. After half an hour or so, two Equity moderators emerged from their office (which stank of the take-out meals of a decade) and gingerly informed her that campaigning was not permitted in the Equity building, after which she made her adieus, all gleaming teeth and blonde finesse, and left with her two cronies. As she passed me in my sleeping-chair, she brushed my knee again with her fingers(this time I noticed her blood-red manicure) and winked, a faint and wicked smile on her lips.
Such is a day in an actor’s life.
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