I looked like a hot mess as I flew down the streets of downtown Dallas in high heels, my fly accidentally down. I was late to my first interview with a legit talent agent. I got there, panicked and out of breath.
I had done theater all my life, but I was pretty clueless when it came to film and television acting. I didn't know the first thing about getting a talent agent. All I knew was that I had a friend in the agency who got me the interview, and that I was supposed to show up and not be late.
He asked to see my headshot. I didn't have one. He asked me if I was in acting classes. I wasn't. He asked me if I'd heard of Marlon Brando. Dude... who is Marlon Brando?
He told me to get it together and come back when I did.
So, I got some headshots done and enrolled in an acting class. I wrote an essay on Marlon Brando because I was a smart aleck. And to my shock, he signed me shortly after.
I had a few auditions here and there, including one a few months after I'd been signed to the agency that I thought sounded fun. One of the roles I was auditioning for in this particular project was Lady Gaga, which I thought was odd. But I went with it.
I walked into the waiting room and instantly noticed how the other girls sitting there were dressed: as much like Lady Gaga as possible. I think I was wearing blue jeans. Awesome. I started to feel stressed as I realized how genuinely under prepared I was.
I was called into the audition room and was told to dance in front of the camera. Did I know how to dance? No. I'm pretty sure at one point I pinched my nose and swung my hand in the air like I was under water. It must have taken everything in that casting director's power not to gawk, as I'm sure I looked like a train wreck.
I shrugged it off and went about my life, only to get a callback a few days later. I was excited, but I didn't really understand that it was a big deal. This time, I wore a party dress in an attempt to look at least one-percent like Lady Gaga. I walked back into the room only to find that there was the casting director, plus a couple other men. (I later found out these were the directors of the film.) Once again, I had to dance. I looked insane. I probably did the Macarena at one point. I bet it was the most pitiful thing they had seen all day.
So I continued to go about my life again and try not to get my hopes up. It didn't seem like a big film, so it wasn't a big deal to me.
And then I got the role. It was a role in a film, so I was ecstatic simply about that fact. It wasn't a huge role — Lady Gaga dances in the film for a few seconds, and then it's over.
The wheels started spinning when I went to fittings and rehearsals and saw the set. It was professional and big, and there were trailers and costumes everywhere. I started to think that perhaps this was a bigger film than I had originally thought. I finally got wind that it was being made by the same guys that made all of the Scary Movie movies.
A few months after filming, I got a message from a friend in England who told me she had just seen me on a billboard there. That was when it really started to hit me that 1) this film had to be pretty big to be on a billboard in England and 2) they were using my image to market it.
That's when I found out the movie was going to be called Vampires Suck. I started seeing myself in random places across the internet. I saw myself on a poster at the movie theaters, which was a total freak-out moment for me. And then I saw that they very clearly put me in the trailer, which racked up lots of views.
Then I started seeing people comment on and repost images and videos of me, but since I was dressed as Lady Gaga, I was unrecognizable. Most comments I read claimed that the role was definitely, hands down, played by a dude. So that was lovely.
All of this was so exciting for me; I had no idea this was what I had signed up for when I showed up underprepared to the audition.
I realized all of this happened while I was completely clueless. I was clueless about how to get an agent; I was clueless about the film I was auditioning for; I was clueless about dancing and about who the directors were. I was clueless that the film was big. And I just kind of cluelessly walked my way into a role in what turned out to be a film that grossed over 80 million dollars.
As I've gotten older, I've started to miss that clueless girl. I've found that I'm more and more cautious, and that I don't always just go for things. While striving for excellence and being prepared are both good things, it can sometimes be a detriment. How many times have you wanted to do something but didn't, simply because you thought you weren't qualified? I think it's scary how often we let the pressure to be successful and perfect slow us down or even stop us from trying something.
You don't have to be an expert. You can be embarrassingly clueless like I was. You just have to do it. Show up even if you're a hot mess. There is so much more power in showing up as a train wreck than there is in being perfect but never trying.