Thursday, February 2, 2012

There's No Business Like Show Business... Unless You're Ugly

All of my life ("I have a lump...") I have been self-conscious of my looks. Whether it was a little extra padding around the mid-section (or the posterior), my receding hairline, stubby fingers, whatever- I've been conscious... of myself. It took me years of self-discovery, months of weight-watchers, and so many other hyphenated self-help (why are these all hyphenated?) techniques and practical applications to finally be comfortable in my own skin... even if it hung loosely over my newly skinny body.

So I graduated college, was lucky to land an agent, and have been struggling to achieve some kind of success as an actor. The stereotype became true, I got a miserable job at a restaurant, and I've been called back more times than Randy Quaid by the IRS, but hardly ever do I land the role. It's a downhill struggle trying to figure out why we don't get the roles we want, but I couldn't help but notice something my agent said to me one day.

I had a very successful audition one day, and had scheduled an appointment with my agent at 4:00pm uptown. Well, needless to say, the casting associates wanted to see me again at 5:00pm, and it was no short walk from Ripley Grier to my agent's office. I was still confident that I could make it, so I ran uptown to meet with her.

I love my agent- she is a very sweet woman who works very hard for her clients and cares very much about our success in the business and in our personal lives. Because she cares so much, especially for those of us who are new to the business, she is always offering advice- whatever she thinks might give us the leg-up on our next outing. This time, she mentioned something I wasn't expecting.

"I was looking at your photos," she said, "and I couldn't help but notice your hairline. It looks like you're balding."

"Well, I am." I said, suddenly feeling an omnipotent itch at the top of my forehead.

"Maybe you should look into that thing, the surgery."

And from there we went on to discuss how sensitive I am about my balding, how embarrassing it can be if there's a strong wind or if it's raining. We discussed hair restoration surgery, and how it had helped some of her other clients, and she thought it would be a good idea for me. I immediately agreed, and left the office trying to think of how I could make $5,000.00 to pay for hair restoration surgery.

I ran back down to my callback, which I was already late for, in the rain. Every drop was like another word, 

"You. Can't. Afford. Hair. Restoration. Surgery. You. Can't. Even. Pay. Rent."

By the time I got to the studio it was 4:50. I had ten minutes to freshen up and review the callback material before they called me in. They had given me "Mooning" from Grease to sing, and because of my meeting I had barely looked at it. I ran into the bathroom to fix my tie, and caught a glimpse in the mirror-

There, staring back at me, was my forehead. So long and shiny, it reflected the mirror like a funhouse, which the mirror in turn reflected, creating an endless chain of reflections of my bald head. My hair was in such disarray that I spent the next ten minutes fussing it back into submission, and finally walked out in frustration with the best possible arrangement, which was still not good enough for me. They called me in.

"I spend my da-eeeee-aaaaaays...(thinking about my bald head)... just mooooo-ooooo-ooooning so sad and blue-ooo (I am sad and blue =( ). I spend my na-ights... (wondering how I'm going to get work with a follicular wasteland where my hair should be)... just mooooo-oooooo-ooooning all over you (all over who? Oh, right, my hairline)."

It went on. The entire time, all I could think was that I was standing there- a hairless monkey, dancing and singing for their enjoyment only to hear those terrible words-

"Thank you!"

I walked out, dejected.

Ever since that day, I have never been able to walk down the street without noticing a full head of hair. With every guy I see on television, all I can think is, "Wow, I could do that job if I had hair like his." I even see shampoo commercials as things I can check off of my "I Will Never Do This" list. It has literally become an obsession that keeps me awake at night- "You will never work. They see through you... and your thin hair."

But let me ask you something- do you know how they "fix" your hairline? Let me tell you.


Look up the pictures, it's actually grisly. Not to mention, you have to take a drug called Propecia for the rest of your life to keep it from falling out again. What's that, you say? The side effects? Oh, right... possible loss of sex drive. In some cases, your sex drive doesn't even return if you stop taking the drug. Oh yeah, and it might be linked to prostate cancer. But whatever, now you've got hair again.

And did I mention that Propecia does not necessarily work for follicles in the temple-front region of the hairline? It is more effective on the crown of the scalp. So all that money you just paid for hair transplants, and you might keep the transplants while the rest of your hair falls out of your head. Sorry, Charlie, no acting job is worth looking like a deformed Chia Pet for the rest of my life with a six inch scar across the back of my head and a spattering of lonely hairs above my ears.

I appreciate that my agent wants the best for me, but now I have become a monster- constantly critiquing hairlines and type-ing myself out of auditions because I "can't play a leading man with a receding hairline". And can I be honest? My hair loss is not even to any great extent. All I have learned is that we as people judge far too quickly and far too harshly.

Love yourselves, people. I do not condemn plastic surgery; a person's body is their own to do what they want with. However, pulling and tugging the wrinkles away, moving your hair (did I mention they can use body hair for restoration? So you might get pubes on your head), plumping things up and flattening things down is so horrific. We have used entertainment to rob ourselves of humanity! Art is supposed to comment on life, not the other way around.

I'm going to age gracefully. The day my hair starts looking too thin, I'm just going to shave it all off... and there's nothing you can do to stop me.

And I'll be DAMNED if I'm putting pubes on my head.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Dreams May Come

Yeah, I haven't written here in like two months, so?

Ok, you're right, I'm really bad at this.

So here's the scoop- I'm trying to get back on the bandwagon of being a real human being with adult responsibilities and some kind of regular schedule. I have decided to start by posting here again every night, even if I don't really have anything to say... which should be really great for all of you reading.

The point is this: I have been really lucky. Especially in this business, it is easy to feel overlooked, untalented, and unimpressive, but I have been lucky enough to get to know someone who has made me realize that A) I was being kind of a whiny bitch, and rather than sitting on my ass eating oreos and watching reruns of Project Runway, I should be sitting on my ass eating oreos and looking up auditions with reruns of Project Runway in the background (Ok, we all know it should be Dear Genevieve, but whatever)... and B) I go on too many long tangents and forget what my bullet points are.

I know he has an aversion to being mentioned in blog posts, so I won't name any names, but this great guy has been so supportive and has had so much faith in me without any reservations, and I am so grateful for that right now. I only hope that I can somehow return the favor.

The truth is that I have been allowing my fear of failure to stop me from doing what makes me happy, and I've subscribed to the idea that I wasn't good enough before I could prove myself wrong (or right. Would I be right? I think I'm wrong...). After a kind of bad episode where I confessed to him that I was in a funk about myself as a performer, he knew exactly how to make me feel better about myself, and even inspired me to go out and do my best work- and believe it or not, today, the day after our talk, I went out and got two callbacks this week.

Don't lose faith in yourselves. Sometimes that's the only support you'll feel you have... and if you're lucky, you'll meet a guy like him.

Besides, if you can't love yourself, how in the HELL are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?!?! (Yes you can, Ru... Yes you can...)