What is making me feel like a stupid little turtle that just wants to stick my head back in its shell? Could it be that a part of me wants approval? From who? And why? In what form does this manifest itself? Is it an attention thing? I pride myself in being a for real background person in every sense of the word. So why do I feel this weird, confusing desire to be noticed?
It’s January 2018 and I’m all washed up.
Not really though, I’m being dramatic.
For some reason I haven’t been booking any work and am in a dry spell so miserable that it is eating through the walls of my mind until my head bleeds all slimy mucus and swampy green into the glass of cheap wine that keeps chaffing my lips.
This shit happened last year too so… I guess this comes as no surprise. The only difference was that in January 2017 I was in my OK30. OK30 is a thirty day period where performers who are SAG (Screen Actors Guild) eligible can take union jobs without having to join the union. Once those thirty days pass you have a choice: either join the union (which means you can no longer do any work that is non-SAG but you make more money and get treated a little less like cattle) or you don’t join the union (and cannot take any SAG jobs but could get speaking, non BG, roles in indie non-union films without competing with Hollywood actors like Michelle Williams.)
This brings me to the SAG conundrum:
I was made an offer- I could work nine days on a feature film called The Greatest Showman. Finally a nice big chunk to make up for lost time BUT half of those days fell just out of my OK30 and casting would only cast me as UNION or NONUNION for all the nine days. Initially, they had me booked to do nine days NONUNION and I told them I would be joining SAG as soon as my OK30 was up so… well, then they said they would have me as UNION all of the days. These dry spells get so crunchy that I file my nails every time I brush lint off my shoulder so...
To join or not to join?
When Hamlet delivered his famous, endlessly parodied speech he was holding someones skull and feeling real shitty about EVERYTHING. Also, people were plotting to murder him. He could have used some good union protection.
So, I answered my conundrum. I joined SAG and I ended up working more days than I was initially booked for and doing BG on The Greatest Showman paid off nearly the entire SAGAFTRA initiation fee.
But these gaps in time aren't fun or easy because the questions demand to be answered: Why am I not getting work? Am I old milk? Do my photos make me look like shit? Do I look like shit? Am I being blacklisted for writing this blog? WHY AM I NOT WORKING?
Even last year, after booking work, the feeling was hard to shake. I was by crafty on The Greatest Showman and there were two or three production crew folks having a conversation about all the private set drama. There I was, right in front of them, hearing everything. If I was anyone significant they wouldn’t have had their conversation with me there- and don't get me wrong, I like hearing this shit talk. I don’t want to not hear it. And, often I like being a wallflower. I like being unnoticed, being noticed makes me nervous- but then… I get sad when I’m unnoticed. It doesn’t make sense! I do want to be noticed. I do! Notice me!
Dear God, the only thing I hate more than feeling this way is having people know I feel this way.
But that's what this is- this honest, vulnerable admission, this forum; a place where I voice thoughts I’m sure everyone has at some point in their life. Those feelings that sometimes pop out of nowhere no matter how old or mature we are, and make that douchey little kid that often lies dormant in us say "Hey! Hey! Come talk to me! Look at me! Like me! Love me! Tell me how great I am!"
I've always had difficulty going up to people and starting conversations but sometimes I have to do my best even when I don’t feel my best, even when I feel like a little turtle. To speak even when silence would be more comfortable. To risk appearing like I want attention when not risking anything only leads to feeling insignificant. To make that decision of "to be or not to be?"
I grab a Twizzler and say to these guys, “Wow, you love the shit talk.”
“Oh, sorry, didn’t see you there.”
I’m wearing a twenty pound, corseted, hoop skirted, bronze ball gown, so yeah right you didn't see me; you just didn't think I'm a person and not a living set piece.
A PA comes in.
“Hey Christine, can I have you on set?”
P.S. I'm really grateful to Grant Wilfley Casting (especially Nikita) for getting me through the SAGAFTRA process in such a helpful and financially supportive way and am a happy member of a fantastic union.