I am writing from my parent’s house in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I am currently playing nursemaid to my still recovering mother. You might remember that she had a gigantic abdominal surgery in March and let’s just say that the recovery has been a total pain in the arse. Literally. She is now on a nutrition overhaul and I am her sous chef. In addition, my Dad has some diabetes complications that need attention, so I am helping him, too. As he told the doctor the other day, “This is my daughter. She is here to be my second brain.”
Since I hate to travel alone, I brought along my favorite little four-year-old travel companion, one Beatrix Jane Meffe. Oh wait–she’s decided that she does not want to be called Beatrix, she wants to be called Polly. This is much nicer than Tarantula, which is–according to Beatrix (sorry, I mean Polly)–my new name. Polly and Tarantula plan to be in Cincinnati until New Years Eve, with a brief trip to Rob’s parent’s house to pick up Rob and Charlotte–who have managed to somehow maintain their names–for Christmas. Because I want Polly/Beatrix to have a nice time, I put her in preschool in Cincinnati.
Let me just say one thing about her preschool in Cincinnati. It’s beautiful. But that isn’t what I want to say is this–they have………..wait for it……….in car drop off.
This is what I mean. You drive up and the teachers are outside and they get the kid out of the car for you. Like….you don’t even have to get out of your pajamas.
I’m never leaving.
You know in New York it’s like, “Yeah, bring your kid in here and don’t complain about it and bring me a bagel with butter while you’re at it.”
I kinda miss New York, too.
But let’s get to this new blog series. My plan is to write this all in one post, but you and I both know I’ll never be able to do it, so I won’t make any promises.
While I understand that the idea of writing a blog post about me being on a TV show might seem like a gigantic ploy to get you to watch me on the TV show, I swear to you it isn’t. I don’t really care if you watch it or not. What I think is so fun about it was the experience of shooting it, and that is the story I plan to tell. If you want to see it, I will include the link at the end of the post, but seriously, I’ll tell you up front, while I am onscreen a lot, it is usually seeing me doing things while someone else is talking.
But I’m ahead of myself. As I usually am. And I’ll explain what I mean.
So here is what happened. Last June I was knee deep in a sandbox with Beatrix when got an email from my agent saying I had an audition the next day. I don’t have the email anymore, but I will give you the highlights.
Sharon, you have an appointment for the following
LIFETIME TV SERIES (Untitled project)
Seeking an actress in her 40’s. Eastern European or Italian, dark hair and brown eyes. Defends her pregnant 14-year-old daughter against a sexting charge from the local D.A. Think Patrica Clarkson type.
Let me talk you through all the problems with this email.
1) I never audition for TV or film. Not because I don’t want to, but just because I only do musicals. Not that I’ve signed some exclusive contract with show business saying I can’t do TV and film, it’s just that…..I don’t know….I don’t. It’s not how I think of myself. I’ve always said, “I only do musicals. Who would want to see this face on a screen?” Translated? I’m too scared to try. It seems like rejection in HD and I have plenty of rejection in musicals, thank-you-very-much. I put it squarely in the “why bother?” pile.
2) Note the description: Eastern European? Nope. Italian? A little bit, but I don’t look it. (Note: I have very large green eyes). Patricia Clarkson type.
Who is Patricia Clarkson and why is she Italian or Eastern European?
Google search result brings this:
And as we all know, this is what I look like:
No resemblance. Nothing. This is what I call (in my head) a “waste of time” audition. I wrote my agent and declined. I think I said something like, “Please don’t make me go to this. I’ll never book it in a million years.”
The response back was something positive and perky like, “Hey Sharon, they just cast a blonde to play a brunette! Anything’s possible. You should go!”
I felt guilt. I decided to go. It’s what I call (in my head) a “waste of time, but I’m going because I don’t want to be a pain to my agent” audition.
I’d only had one other TV audition before, which was for Boardwalk Empire and was in Yiddish–so anything compared to that seemed like a breeze. At least this woman spoke English and had a 14-year-old daughter. The thing about TV and theater auditions is that–and I will explain this in more detail–they are very different. And by very different I mean that maybe they aren’t so totally different but on TV your hair and makeup and clothes have to look fantastic. There is also the issue that in theater you have to make everything visible to the back wall and in TV the camera is right on top of you, but that seemed too advanced. I decided to just work on making my hair look good.
When I arrived at the audition I was handed a page that explained the woman I was playing and told the audition was entirely improvised. My off the cuff reaction was to be nervous about improvising, but then I remembered that this woman is a mother of a 14-year-old (which I am) and they wanted me to improvise about that.
I can do that.
I was also supposed to be enraged and I’d just spent 20 minutes in a hallway with a stand up comic/kids party clown who was trying to figure out if I was any competition for her (I think she actually said, “I really need this job”) so I was emotionally all set. You want me to yell at someone? No problem. Just leave me in tha hall with this Bozo (no pun intended) for another 20 minutes.
Long story short (because I want to save room for the fun part), I got a call back and while I almost didn’t go to the call back (do you see a trend here), my best friend Maryday was in town and made me go. In fact, she went to the call back with me and sat in the hall waiting while I went in. Being a former actress (let’s call her “reformed”) she gave me a lot of encouragement like, “Oh my God. I am so glad I quit acting. This hallway is horrible. Look at how all these women are sizing you up! I don’t know how you do it.”
The callback went really well, they had me improvise with two different “girls” playing my daughter. In the scene she was supposed to tell me she was having sex with her boyfriend and that she was pregnant. The first girl came in and cried off all her make up (she eventually got the part), and the other girl came in looking like an ad for Victoria’s Secret. Once I knew the camera was rolling, I said (as part of the scene), “Would you like to tell me why you are dressed in that terrible outfit?” but the actress thought I was talking to her PERSONALLY and got really rattled. In fact, so rattled that we had to stop rolling. I felt AWFUL, and only felt worse when later in the hall she walked up to me and said, “Are you Sharon Wheatley? I work for your agent and I’ve talked to you on the phone!”
I apologized, but….I did have to get to the bottom of why she was dressed the way she was and she told me she’d just been on a lingerie audition.
She looked 12.
But I digress.
And I should go to bed.
So you know I got the job or I wouldn’t be writing this. But–seriously–you will not believe what it was like to film it.
Come back for more. I have pictures.
Thanks for reading this. Sorry I’ve been so MIA. I’m trying to come back.
(To read the next post in this series, go here)