"Always a Bridesmaid, Never the Bride"
I have started to notice synchronicities in my life. Work is not exampted from these synchronicities either. I have now had not one but two calls in which my primary addiction, acting, was the focus. Great calls. Calls with people who lifted my day and made me remember who I am, in the middle of "making a living".
I have wanted to be a full-time actor for a long time. It's not the only thing I want, but it's certainly a major desire. Some years ago I went to my spiritual teacher to ask a question about that desire of mine. I worked on the phrasing of this question because it was important to me that she understand where I was coming from. Never mind she knows everything about me well before I do, I wanted to be clear.
Many years before that - many, many Years before that, when I was 6 years old, in fact - I stood in front of my Kindergarten class in some long-forgotten exercise we had been assigned, and I did my first bit of acting in this life. I remember standing in front of the class. I remember how focused I felt, and how in my element, however briefly. I made my hands into claws, and I torqued my body as I imitated Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West: "I'm melting!" I screeched, "I'm melting!", as I went to the ground.
What I told my guru many years later was that I wanted to be a successful, working actor and that I was asking for her blessing, her prayers, or her sankalpa (which means "divine will", which means, "this gonna happen, gurl!"). I wanted her to understand that I was not looking for an egoic make-me-famous existence, but an expression of my life's devotion to open self-expression A young Indian man was doing the translating at that moment, and when she told him that I had her sankalpa, the look on his face was priceless and easily readable: You???
You still haven't heard of me, though.
It's, I dunno, weird how many brushes with fame I have had in my life - other peoples' fame, I mean. I grew up around famous people, but only fleetingly as they moved through Cincinnati to dance or sing or otherwise perform: avant garde composer and theorist John Cage, Russian cellist and human rights advocate extraordinaire Mstislav Rostropovich, barrier-breaking Black/Puerto Rican opera diva Martina Arroyo, Lord of the ballet Rudolf Nureyev.
And in my 50's I embarrassed the hell out of myself when I acted like a total doofus in front of Olympia Dukakis who I waited at a San Francisco stage door to meet.
But - thankfully - digressing...
I had an audition for a one-on-one scene with Helen Mirren, who is an absolute goddess of acting. And I got a callback!!! But no. Not hired.
I had another audition for a movie about Ernest Hemingway: Hemingway & Gellhorn. It would have been a short one-on-one scene with Clive Owen. No. Not hired.
I was, however, in a tongue-in-cheek Indie film about the 1950's Roswell craze (if you can call it a craze, since we're all still obsessed with aliens) - and holy shit! I just found the movie on Amazon Prime! and you can watch it!! Ohmygod!! Filming that in downtown San Francisco was way too much fun. I was painted with yellow paint (didn't you know that aliens are all yellow???), and when we took a lunch break outside a popular local restaurant, people did double-takes and thought twice about going in to have a meal. "Did she get sick in there?"
And I had my 9 seconds of fame on NBC in what was arguably the worst television shows ever made - and that's including Survivor! - called Trauma (and oh boy wasn't it...) when I was plucked from the extras to have a scene with words with one of the leads of the show. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, and I had no desire to leave. For four hours I was The Mean Nurse (thought I don't think they billed me that way...) to this absolutely gorgeous and incredibly sweet young man. For four hours I slapped this guy upside his head from behind, yelled at him, and tipped him out of a wheelchair that he was pretending to need.
I made $800 before taxes for that little foray, and suddenly I understood in a verrrrry material way how wealthy successful actors actually are. I also got a blog post out of that experience. Writing has been my addiction for a long time.
And now I'm working in a Call Center. My version of restaurant work for the L.A. actor.
But even here I am having my brushes with fame. Exhibit A: The woman I spoke to yesterday. I am so tempted to ask the Powers That Be to give me a copy of that recording. She was so. freaking. fabulously. hilarious. Plus she has met TONS of famous people, and she told me THE best story ever.
Her daughter, you see, is a high mucky muck in a company that attends The Sundance Film Festival every year in Park City, Utah. And her daughter brings her mama with her. Her mama has the accent I love the most: the New York variety of accent, plus this woman is as innocently excited as a child about to go to Disneyland.
"Oh yeah!" she said, "so I need to get this coat by this Friday because I'm leavin' next Monday! I've met awl of the big actahs! Robert Redford, and Casey Affleck - he's really really nice - and Ben is really nice too, and Petah Dinklage, you know, the little guy? I sang karaoke with him."
"And I met Ray Romano, at last. After awl these years. And ..." and she spewed off more names. And I had to interrupt her.
"You sang...karaoke...with Peter Dinklage???"
"Oh yeah! I'm like the mutha to awl these people now. They tell my dawtuh she can't come to the festival without me! And so I was at this pawty and I could see where Petah Dinklage was, and I positioned myself on the edge of the couch, and I made him come up and sing karaoke with me!"
I had to ask: "So, was he as nice as he seems like he would be?"
"Oh no," she said. "No, he didn't wanna tawk to anybody. Verrry cold."
I said, "Y'know, I'm actually an actor, so this is completely fantastic, and I am so jealous - always the bridesmaid, never the bride! I want to go with you!
"Oh, I know, it's so awesome!" she gushed. "It's uttahly fantastic!" Her excitement was so bubbly and pure, I couldn't stop smiling.
"I have pitchers of me with awl of them. It's so wonderful. My son took a pitcher of me with Petah Dinklage! And he was showing it around to everyone and saying, 'Look, everyone! Petah Dinklage is talluh than my muthah!' And I said, 'You sonovabitch, you know I was sittin' down!' "
Ohmygod. That story is worth all of these bridesmaid years...
©2019 Lori Kirstein