noree

I’m An Actress: Noree’s Casting Couch

 

Good day good people! I’m

baaaack!

 

Now that we’re all acquainted and I’ve told you a little bit

about myself and why I do what I do, let’s dig in and talk about how I do what I do – shall we?

 

In my travels, a lot of folks have asked me how they can get

into acting, some serious and some not-so-serious

(which is absolutely tragic to find

out once you’ve already spent your energy helping them, but that’s a rant for

another day!) and to be quite honest, there’s really no one guaranteed path.

 

Some people pop out of the womb performing, get discovered by their own parents, and are lucky

(or unlucky) enough, to be peddled around from agency to agency at the ripe old

age of three until they start landing gigs.

 

Others are discovered on the street simply because of a

certain look or quirky quality, and are catapulted into fame overnight. That’s

called being in a ridiculously right place at a ridiculously right time – but

the chances of that happening are about as great as peeping Obama riding a

horse upon a mountaintop while drinking whiskey from a boot. And so, that

leaves the rest of us – actors that are just like me – who in order to keep

working, must work the audition circuit tirelessly.

 

What exactly is

that like?

 

Well, as I mentioned before, after I landed my first role, I

began working the audition circuit nonstop – from NY to ATL

to L.A., traveling mostly on my own dime and running into a host of characters

from the eccentric, to the downright rude, to people who turned out to be angels

on earth. And these auditions would range from paid work to unpaid work, large

productions, small productions, film, television, stage, commercials, etc.

 

Now, you might be asking yourself why anyone in their right

mind would fly across the nation to audition for anything small or unpaid; but

the reality is that for a new actor, in every audition, casting call, or

production landed, lies potentially priceless networking opportunities, as well

as opportunities to practice and perfect your craft.

 

It was my very first acting coach, Robert G. Christie of Columbia, MD,

who told me that Samuel L. Jackson, his Morehouse classmate, made it big in

this industry simply by being everywhere at once. He hustled. He “grinded.” He

lived out of suitcases. And when he wasn’t hustling or grinding, he was

training, which is still grinding. I

took that bit of information to heart, and although it has certainly begun to

pay off, it hasn’t been all rainbows and gumdrops.      

 

I’ve auditioned for Pat Moran, Kadeem Hardison, Clifton

Powell, Eddie Murphy, Malik Yoba, the writers and producers of The Wire, and countless directors,

talent scouts, and casting agencies. I landed my current agent through an

audition in New York

last year, and have performed myself into lead roles that were already spoken

for. I’ve also been sent away without a call-back, and at times have been

called back for several readings for the same role, and still didn’t land.

Sometimes, not landing a role can be as simple as not having the exact look a

production is searching for. And other times, someone else just might be the

better actor. Or… you just sucked

that day. We all have those days. I know I have.

 

It’s definitely work that you must be 100% committed to, with

the thick skin to match the commitment. And when you are sent away, you simply must be willing to pick yourself right

back up, and go at it full speed for the next audition. The people that I’ve

read and performed for are largely professionals, and I respect that they have

their legitimate reasons for making the decisions they make. But there was this

one time, when I was invited to read for a certain casting agency in Los Angeles, which shall

remain nameless…

 

I walked in, and upon receiving my sides for the movie,

decided right away that it wasn’t something that I’d particularly like to do.

As they put it, the film would be somewhat of a Girls Gone Wild meets Jackass.

Enough said, right? Well I politely explained to them that I wouldn’t be

interested in pursuing the role, and they understood, but insisted that I read

anyway, just to get a feel for me for any other projects they might have on

deck. The agency really liked my “look,” so I stayed and read. And by the end

of my audition, I had booked another reading with them for a different

production.

 

Fast forward to later that night… I received a call from one

of the agency’s staff members inviting me to a private party in Beverly Hills, given by

the agency’s owner and a pretty well-known comedian who would be working on the

next production with them. Did somebody say party?

Hey, sounded cool to me! But of course, being the “intuition feeler” that I am,

I decided to call my cousin and take him with me as a chaperone.

 

To make a long story short, the mansion was deserted when we

drove up – no music, no laughter, no rows of cars parked in the front. So,

feeling brave and a little bit silly, we decided to go Colombo and started

maneuvering behind bushes, pulling up onto window sills, and peeking into the

back windows. The only signs of life were the lights on in the kitchen and a

few half-full champagne glasses, and I decided that we should leave, when the

front door opens and the agency owner steps out with “The Comedian” behind him.

 

A little startled, I introduced myself, along with my

chaperone cousin, and was promptly told that he would not be allowed in,

because Mr. Comedian had “requested me specifically.” When I asked what that

meant exactly, I was questioned about whether or not I had a bikini with me…

for the hot tub. (Insert the straightest “are

you kidding me?” face ever, right here!) So I told the agency owner that

this was not what I had in mind when I was invited to a “party”, that I would

not be entering the home without my chaperone or other guests present, and to

have a good night.

 

That next morning, I received a phone call, and my audition

was cancelled. In cases such as that, good

riddance.

 

But I will say that for every negative experience, there are

dozens of positives. Like my audition with Malik Yoba – a good friend and very

talented actor/published writer – for example. You may have recognized Malik

from New York Undercover, Cool Runnings, and Why Did I Get Married. He’s also heavily into the stage play

circuit at the moment, and has his own successful theatre company.

 

A few weekends ago, I was invited to hang out in New York and

read for his upcoming film What’s on the

Hearts of Men, adapted from stage play and novel. Having the chance to read

for him and receive the honest feedback that many new actors literally crave was absolutely amazing. We had a

great time hanging out, and chopping it up, and needless to say, he was the

consummate professional – offering great performance advice and a never-ending

well of positivity.

 

At the culmination of my audition weekend, I asked Malik

what he most looks for when auditioning new actors for his productions, and he

said:

 

“When auditioning actors for any part, regardless of

how large or small, I always look for truth.

I look to feel the underlying emotion, color, substance, and texture of what I

perceive the scene or moment calls for. Even if the dialogue is exposition [explaining

the facts, or pure information without any inherent emotional content] I look

for truth. For me, truth is everything. I find the reason many actors don’t

work as much as they’d like, is because many of them just say words without

tapping into any inner emotional life. For many, their characters only live on

the surface. After all, ‘act’ is a verb that means ‘to be.”

 

And that’s exactly what I mean when I speak of the priceless

experiences, folks.

 

Everywhere at once. That’s me.

 

Until next time…

Love, Hip-Hop, and Film,

 

Noree Victoria

 

Check me out anytime at

www.myspace.com/noreevictoria

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