I went to a casting call, on roller skates!
Let me explain… I didn’t even know what a casting call was really. And I sure as hell was not looking to be an extra or background dancer or anything like that. But when I moved here and started looking for jobs, there just were SO MANY talent gigs that it was hard to ignore them when I came across ones I was qualified for. I mean, I got free photos through Armen Nazarian and I found him on Craig’s List and it was perfectly legit. Call it naïveté, but I haven’t been burned by CL enough yet to give up on it. Plus, I just started marketing myself as a professional roller skater, so when I found an ad for a casting call for a major MTV music video I decided on a whim to send them some photos. (Of course, I sent them 3 photos of me on skates.) And they replied! (Ya, I got a call back!) I responded to them asking, “Can I wear skates?” but never heard back. I didn’t care though, I was confirmed for a Saturday shoot, and I was to arrive at 9 am, come “camera ready” and bring several changes of clothes. Besides, I sent them three pictures of me on skates, how could they NOT want me to show up on skates? Parking was hard to find and I arrived slightly late, so I put my skates on in the parking lot, slung my hangers with extra outfits over my shoulder, and rolled into the shoot.
I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I was ready to get turned away at the door or have them look me up and down and say “Next”. I didn’t know. Coincidentally, the shoot actually took place in an old hotel converted apartment complex, and was the exact building I had intended to live in when I initially moved to L.A.. It’s a grand old building with hard wood floors, huge ballrooms and lofts filled with artist types. When I skated into the lobby, I was directed upstairs. I rolled into one of the ballrooms and immediately saw one corner which had been transformed into a make shift dressing/make up room. There were two racks filled with clothes and three gorgeous women sitting in director style chairs getting worked on, (later I was to find out these were the “principals”. )To the right were about 100 people sitting in folding chairs. When I skated in, EVERYONE IN THE ROOM TURNED AND LOOKED AT ME.
It was like a comedy routine. I was completely unaware how utterly out of place I must have looked as I rolled my way over to a chair, muttering things like, “oh don’t mind me” “excuse me” “woops sorry about that” and “can you please unhook me?” (indicating my wheel which had gotten wrapped around a girl’s purse on the floor). I sat down, and hung my outfits on the back on my chair, noticing everyone else had rolling suitcases or oversized leather shoulder bags with them. Someone turned around and said to me in an accusatory tone, “Did they ASK you to wear those?” looking down at my skates. “No. Did they ask you to wear that?” I replied, with no hostility and genuine curiosity. It seemed everyone thought my skates were an act. A tactic. A way to get noticed. And they were all looking at me with vicious, jealous stares. Had they been piranhas I would have been a goner.
Like I said, I didn’t care. I was there for the experience and I was ready to leave before I even started anyway. I was not there to compete with my body or face like the rest of the women there, in a way they were right I suppose- my skates WERE a tactic. But not intentionally. Not like the guy with the bow tie or the girl with the fedora. When I left that morning my hair was only half finished, and my nails were not painted and I hopped in the car with the words “camera ready” running through my mind and thought, “screw it. My skates will carry me. My skates are what is cool about me. Either they’ll like me, or not.” I had nothing to lose.
So sitting amongst the piranhas I just took it all in. I watched the production assistant argue with three very young looking girls who insisted that they were of age, (“You can be in High School and still be 18!” they said and “It’s spring break, we don’t have school today!) Eventually they lost and were sent home. Another girl walked off the set in a rage after demanding to know when she would get paid, (the call-backs had all been very clear that the gig was for exposure only, no compensation). And I watched another girl stand in front of a mirror THE WHOLE TIME. We started getting called up individually to hair, make up and wardrobe -IF they liked us. We were each given a form to fill out and assigned a number, then the PA took pictures of every single one of us. Someone in another room somewhere was looking at the pictures, and deciding who was hot and who was not. Hours passed and I was still waiting. I got hungry. I looked around and noticed not one person had a book with them. 100 people who all seemed to know this was the normal routine: showing up and sitting for hours on end just waiting for your name to be called and not one single person brought a damn book. I figured at least a few of them had to be actors, and no one was reading a script or something? I wished I had a book. I thought to myself, “if I ever do this again, I’m bringing a book.”
I passed the time by skating around the ballroom. The place had great hard wood floors and I entertained some people with a few tricks. One guy even said to me, “you were really smart wearing those skates here today. It really makes you stand out.” A few more women said to me, “Did they tell you to wear those?” more making a statement in my general direction than really asking. No one seemed to get it, I’m a roller skater, it’s WHAT I DO. Eventually the PA came over and asked me to stop skating. Finally, someone said I was approved for make up. When the costume designer asked the PA what to put me in, she was waved off with “no, Sam liked her”. I wondered who Sam was and when he got a chance to approve my outfit without my knowledge. My black shiny paten leather pants and red halter top were apparently acceptable for public viewing, but when I got to the make up corner I got what I felt sounded suspiciously like a standard line from one of the make up artists, “Oh you’re a pretty girl but you just need some make up” she said, (then turned to her colleague and instructed, “can you do her when you’re done? She needs a whole face). Whatever, my skates were carrying me.
After make up I still waited like a whole hour, then it was lunch time. They carted us all down to the parking lot, and this time the PA actually demanded I take my skates off. I put my heels on and remember saying, “Ah man, now I’m just a regular person like everyone else”. A few people laughed but I wasn’t joking. The second I didn’t have skates on my feet anymore I felt like I had no business being there. I’m no booty shaking music video dancer, I’m a roller skater. Without them on my feet, I had lost my identity. Down in the parking lot there was a food truck and a whole spread of delicious Mexican food. At this point I didn’t even care if I got in the video, I ate like the starving artist that I am and was relieved I didn’t have to think about my weight . I felt like it was High School again as I pulled a chair up to a corner alone. Two guys sat down with me, but I quickly alienated them by saying something uncomfortable. It was all for the better. After lunch, I felt like all my make up had been worn off, at least my lipstick, and that too I felt was all for the better.
By now it must have been 2 o’clock. I had been there since 9 am and all I had done was pay for parking, get some fake eye lashes and eat some delicious tacos. I was beginning to wonder how the fuck anything gets done in Hollywood. I started eyeing the sound technicians laying cable and chatting up the caterers. They seemed far more interesting than the rest of the dumb extras. I wanted to be with the crew, on their side of the production, doing what they were doing. Instead I was being made to feel like the nerdy kid who didn’t belong and deserved to be shunned by a bunch of brainless jersey shore wannabes. I felt sorry for them.
It was at last time to enter for the club scene. The PA still didn’t want me rolling around the hotel so I found her before the crowd rushed into the scene and asked, “okay, can I put my skates back on now?!” She looked at me almost in disgust, rolled her eyes, scoffed and said, “I wouldn’t, but I don’t know anything about the skates or who told you to come so whatever. But I wouldn’t wear them, it’s going to be very crowded in there….” I had already stopped listening to her. She didn’t say no, that’s all I heard. Shit I’d been there since 9 fucking am, and I sure as hell wasn’t NOT going to wear my skates! If you are going to tell me not to wear my skates, then you should have said something 5 hours ago! Bitch, this is happening! So I snuck into the middle of the crowd, skates in hand, and made my way to the dance floor. When I got in there and the fog machines started up, I donned my skates. I was in like Flynn.
They lined us all up and spaced us all apart evenly on the dance floor. There were fog machines and lasers and a bunch of prop glasses filled with fake alcohol looking abandoned on a nearby bar. Pitbull and Neyo were somewhere in the front, on a platform, dancing with the principals and lip-syncing. I hadn’t heard of Pitbull or Neyo before that day, but I did overhear one of the back up dancers who caught a glimpse of Pitbull saying, “He’s much more attractive in person!” I thought Neyo was better looking but neither were my type anyway. We were supposed to dance until the end of the song clip, and then rush the stage towards the performers, but every time the music started all the dancers began rushing the stage anyway. They all wanted their face time with the camera. I just kept spinning. Some bitch shoved me and said “your skates hurt!” I shoved her back and said, “Bitch, I’m skating here!” I’m sorry but she wouldn’t have gotten skated on if she wasn’t trying to rush the stage like an idiot, I was staying in my designated spot.
After a quick minute I was sweaty, and ripped my fake eyelashes off, (hey, “my skates will carry me”). I even lost a toe stop and a cute sound guy came running with a screw driver to help me fix it. Pretty soon I realized I only had about 3 dance moves on skates and felt like I must have looked like a wreck, but everyone was treating me like I was a professional. After all, no one else in the room was on skates. I suppose, in that instance, I was a professional, but I still didn’t know what the hell I was doing. We were told MTV’s Making the Video was there. I spinned and spinned. A guy ran through my line of dancers with a camera focused on our feet and later I got to speak directly into a camera and do a spin. The Pitbull video has come out and there’s no visible skating in it, but I’m still holding out for MTV’s Making the Video to see if I can catch a glimpse of me on wheels. Either way, it was an experience, that’s for sure, and I definitely learned about Hollywood and the industry in the process. Not to mention got my face out there. Twice I have been recognized by other people who were at the video shoot as “that girl on skates” and if my goal was simply to be seen on wheels then I certainly accomplished that. Just the other day while skating on Hollywood Blvd., there was a movie premiere and a bunch of commotion going on, and some cameramen with Vice Magazine asked if they could take some footage of my skates spinning around. The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time.