I worked yesterday at Grey advertising again, and they just happened to be having auditions for an upcoming national commercial for that shining beacon of all that is Americanized about Italian food (but you get great free, unlimited breadsticks!): the Olive Garden!
Now before you get all excited and start thinking that you will be seeing me chow down on pasta Lady and the Tramp-style with some attractive fellow while you’re waiting for Modern Family to come back, I didn’t audition nor did I attempt to sneak into the audition. I was working reception, and thus, it would be inappropriate for me to try to crash an audition for which I had no appointment unlike the hordes of attractive child actors and adult commercial actors who did. While I would have LOVED to have the chance to say some line to my good-looking, fake family about how much I love the never-ending pasta bowl, I instead spent my day directing OTHER actors back to casting with a smile plastered on my face.
Ah the ironies of life.
Or is it just situations that suck? I always forget because I learned about irony, like most people in the 1990s, from Alanis Morissette’s song “Isn’t It Ironic,” which is probably not actually the correct definition. (But despite your incorrect definition of irony, I still love both you and your songs, Alanis!)
Anyway, as I sat ushering child actors in, it occurred to me that a lot of them probably have more professional acting credits than I do. Like, here I am, twenty-three years old with a college degree in acting but no professional credits, no agent, no SAG card, no AEA card. Here’s this like, eleven year old perky blonde girl who probably is SAG/AFTRA with an agent and a resume full of commercials and probably a couple random guest spots on Law & Order: SVU and Royal Pains. How does this happen?!
I’m not sure I would have wanted to be a child actor where people expected me to always act like an adult and never get to completely enjoy my youth. I think being a child actor would have made me not like acting as much. It would have made me have to grow up faster. Already I could see some of those children maybe being there with their parents out of obligation rather than for their own enjoyment because it was something THEY wanted to do. There are plenty of child actors who have grown up into successful adults, but also plenty who felt like they missed out on their youths.
But seeing all these children coming in to audition and knowing they probably have a longer professional resume than I do put things into perspective for me. Then I thought about how much lengthier my CHILDHOOD ACTIVITIES resume is than theirs, and I realized I was the one with the upper hand. I got to play baseball and go to the pool and have sleepovers and play in marching band. I got to have family vacations and go to normal schools. I have experiences that make up for my lack of professional ones; experiences that cannot be replaced by SAG cards or Olive Garden commercials. I may not be where I want to be professionally, but when I DO get there, I’ll be happier and better educated. I’ll be better adjusted. I’ll be grateful.
And when I get acting work, I’ll celebrate with my REAL family…but maybe not at Olive Garden.