Friday, January 16, 2009

Room Tone

"Quiet on the set!" It's one of the first phrases they teach you in acting school. Before there is sound, speed and a rolling camera, there must first be silence. Not so much the case at auditions.

Typically, the audition process consists of actors sitting or standing in a small room or narrow hallway, side-by-side with their immediate competition. Some are silently mouthing the words to their monologues or pacing the floor feverishly as they study their sides. Acts like these have become common practice and tolerable in the audition setting. But then you have the talkers. The actors who use the waiting room as a social playground for catching up with their long lost thespians.

Jacob Sanchez, a stage actor in New York City, is guilty of being a waiting room chatterbox.

"I'm constantly running into old classmates and other actors I've worked with at auditions and I can't help but to use that opportunity to catch up with them" says Sanchez. "So many times, we change our phone numbers, move away and lose contact with one another. So, when I see an old friend, I want to catch up with them right then and there."

Everyone doesn't appreciate Sanchez's friendly banter. Jasmine Miles, a veteran stage actor, wishes she could give these newbies a lesson in audition etiquette.

"It's God-awful the way some of these kids conduct themselves in the waiting room" complains Miles. "I'm forced to hear about their problems, summer vacations and previous auditions all while I'm trying to prepare for my reading. They have no consideration."

Alana Cass, a casting intern at a mid-level, bi-coastal casting agency in New York City, has seen and heard it all.

"I get complaints from actors everyday who are upset about the noise other actors are making while they are waiting to audition" Cass says. "I try my hardest to accommodate everyone, but that's never easy, and always hard to do."

Once, Cass had to play mediator between two feuding actors. One was fuming because the other showed up to the audition with a crying child in a stroller.

"That was a rough day," recalls Cass. "It was an all-out screaming match. I politely asked the woman with the baby if she could step outside and return back once she quieted down her child. She walked out in a huff and never came back."

Cass understands that "common folk" tend to be fascinated by the whole process. But she suggests actors leave their Aunt Sally visiting from Arkansas at the Starbucks around the corner until they are done with their appointment.

"I always urge my actor-friends to go to their auditions alone," says Cass. "Sometimes the noisemakers are not the actors, but the company they drag along with them."

Cass has even begun to take things into her own hands.

"I got the okay from one of the senior associates to put up a sign that reminds the talent to keep their cell phones on silent and chatter to a minimum," says Cass.

In the meantime, Sanchez has become cognizant of his actions in front of the casting director - and in the waiting room as well.

"I have gotten quite a few ugly looks," recalls Sanchez. "I'm getting better. When I run into old buddies, I whisper for them to meet me down in the lobby so we can talk there."

He'd better, or Miles will certainly teach him a thing or two about manners.

"I'm ready to pluck these twerps upside the head if I have to," quips Miles.


Monday, January 12, 2009


We all have our thing. Some people have nice, long legs that never seem to hit the ground, while others have pretty, straight, white teeth that light up a room when they smile. My thing is my skin. I'm known for having a clear face. Of course growing up (you know, with puberty and all) I had the occasional break out, but overall, I've been pretty lucky in the acne department. In fact, my back broke out more than anything else, that is, until my senior year in high school when my dermatologist prescribed me some "special" cream and pills that zapped those zits into oblivion - and burnt me to a crisp. I remember my mom slathering Vaseline on my back to help ease the stinging agony. But hey, beauty is pain, right? After that I thought I (and my skin) was in the clear. Besides, only kids have breakouts and adults don't get bumps (or so I thought). Flash forward to today, and my face looks like a cheese grater.

Maybe I'm over reacting. Actually, I know I am. But what do you expect? I'm an actor and I make use of my dramatic license any chance I get. But seriously, I've got bumps all over my face. I feel...dare I say it? Unpretty! You know, like if a person is holding a conversation with me, their voice slowly begins to fade into the distance as I drift off to a galaxy far far away where I imagine said person snickering and pointing at me and my bumps. What gives? Could I actually be suffering from adult acne?

According to, "adult acne affects 25% of all adult men and 50% of adult women." The website also goes on to say that "people can develop unpleasant acne or have an acne recurrence in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond." (Sigh) Clearly, I'm not in the clear after all. The website advises that I do a benzoil peroxide over-the-counter regimen. I immediately ran to my medicine cabinet. Turns out, I have that already! I actually have quite a bit of product.

As I rummaged through my cabinet and began to apply my benzoil peroxide filled Proactiv refining mask and repairing lotion, I started to wonder if the issue was deeper than my clogged pores. What's more, why do I care? Am I that superficial that I would let a few bumps to ruin my day and allow a wave of insecurities to flood my head? Well, yes, yes I am. But if Oprah can put her over-weight self next to her formerly skinny self on the cover of O, then why can't I bare my soul here on my little, ity bity blog? So, instead of hiding behind a pair of big shades or inside the oversized hoody of my Gap snorkel, here I am, stripped, exposing all my private bump treatments. Take that Oprah! Oh, and Happy Monday!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Fatman Scoop Chronicles: The Discovery

There is a sweet, four to five hundred pound man who works in my department. We'll call him Slim. Slim comes to work everyday, does his job and minds his business. After being an employee with the company for over twenty years, his job performance doesn't seem to be an issue. It's other things of a more personal nature that raise a flag: His hygiene.

Over the years, I've heard horror stories about how Slim carries an odor. "No way," I thought. I've walked pass Slim plenty of times (without holding my breath like I was urged to do) and smelled nothing of the kind. "Why are they picking on this poor man," I wondered. Sure, his cubicle is a two-by-four disaster area full of empty Coca-Cola cans and dingy old news papers scatterd about his desk, but everyone isn't a neat-freak, you know? He even got sent home once, forced to use one of his vacation days, because a co-worker in the cubicle next to him complained that the stench was too much to bear. Poor Slim. "These people are awful," I proclaimed shaking my head. He's such an easy target. Why are they so mean to him? I mean, I have heard him mumble to himself a time or two as he wobbled down the hallway to the elevator for lunch, but who hasn't? Then there was the time I caught him slicking his hair down with the sanitizing gel they provide for us outside the men’s room. But forty hours of fluorescent lights and beige cubicle walls would make you a bit loopy too! In my head, I always stood up for Slim. Well, until yesterday that is.

As I clocked in and made my way to my cubicle, I saw Slim easing on down the hallway and I gave him my usual corporate tight-lipped grin and head nod combo, and continued to breathe as I always do. "WTF?!" I said out loud. There it was in all its glory: Funk! It was a mixture of haven't bathed in days, cheap cologne and sanitizer gel. It wasn't an urban legend after all. Dude really does reek. But unlike my office cohorts, I kept my discovery to myself. The man has enough enemies. Why must I add to the list?

As I continued on with my usual day of faux-work and light office chitchat, a co-worker rushed into my cubicle. "Where's the fire?!" I asked. "They're moving Slim over to our area," she exclaimed. "Everyone in his area banned together and marched into the director's office and demanded that he be moved." "No fair!" I shouted. "If they can't deal with it over there, what makes them think we'll be able to deal with that funk over here?" It was in that moment that I turned into one of them: The ones that shake their heads and snicker as Slim passes them in the hallway; the ones that have him sent home for smelling up the place; the ones who demand he be ostracized to another section of the department. I had turned against Slim and felt horrible about it.

My co-worker, eyes squinting, right brow raised so high it nearly hit the ceiling, looked out into the hallway and in a sinister Wicked Witch of the West resonance said, "I'll take of this," and darted out of my cubicle.

Will Slim be loading up his empty soda pop collection and year old Newark Star Ledgers into his garbage bag (yes, he carries his belongings in a garbage bag everyday) and setting up shop in my neck of the woods? If so, what will I do? Glade candles from Target? No, there's a no candle rule in the employee handbook. Shoot. Hang up one of those automatic timer air freshener thingies that go off every 15, 24 and 36 minutes? Hmmm...Maybe not. That may be TOO obvious. What I won't do is panic. Maybe Slim won't even make it over to my section. For now, all I can do is wait, and continue to do what everyone else has been doing for years: Hold my breath, grin and bear it.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guess Who's Back?

I’m here to make amends. I know. I know. It’s been ten long months. And I know what else you’re thinking. Perhaps I was M.I.A. because I finally got an acting J.O.B. Ha! Think again. Oh how I wish my being busy learning lines on some lush, tropical set in the forests of the Amazon, sans Wi-Fi connection, was the reason for neglecting this blog. But it’s not. I just straight up stopped blogging. Period. But here I am, back, and with lots of explaining to do.

Since my abbreviated hiatus, I became a published writer (big ups to Upscale Magazine); got a promotion at my job (oh the joy of health benefits); went back to school full-time (Empire State College let’s expedite my rationale so I can officially mark that graduation date on my calendar); moved into a new apartment (only 5-minutes away from my old crib, but change is change, right?); witnessed one of my homeboys tie the knot (still mad your entire wedding was in Spanish…the things we do for friends); had my precious Honda Accord broken into by Jorge C. Rodriguez (no relation to my homeboy - the cops caught the bastard in my backseat and gave me his name when I filed a police report. The damage was minimal …let’s just say he took a note out of Jazmine Sullivan’s songbook); and I made it through the holiday season without swiping my credit card one time (Suzie Orman would be proud).

All in all, it has been a pretty busy ten months. No excuse, I know, for leaving you high and dry. Hell, I’m a writer. I could have at least thrown together a Dear John letter of some sort. But all of that is about to change. Like any other year, I’m sure 2009 will be chock full of misadventures, welcomed surprises and random acts only you would truly appreciate. So consider this post my white flag. Can we call a truce and start all over again?