Wednesday, September 2, 2009

pigeonholing the penis-less (part IV)

They're still coming! Answers to our standing question: do female performers have to choose between being pretty or funny? As always, these folks want to be anonymous:
before I answer your questions, let me respond to the initial statements that triggered the article-- The Times has a profile of Anne Heche where the co-creator of the new series Hung, Colette Burson, says "It is incredibly difficult to find beautiful, talented, funny women over 35."

When i look at character breakdowns, I'm more drawn to descriptions that have to do with the character's journey or relationships with other characters. If it just states that she's "funny" or "beautiful" I tend to skip it. "Funny" and "beautiful" are uber subjective and unless there are sides or unless i can get my hands on the script to see if there's something in her journey that speaks to me, I'm less likely to go to something where it feels like it's just about looks or less likely to attend something where I think the expectation walking into the room will be, "Okay, try to make me laugh." In the case of the latter scenario, I'd like to connect with you, but if you expect me to "make" you do something, I think you're probably rooting against me, whether or not that is your conscious intent. As for the "beautiful" description, that leads me to think that it's just about looks and truth be told, I am not comfortable consciously placing myself in a situation where I feel I'm just being judged on my looks--I'm an actor, not a model.

Back to "funny." If you want "funny," I hope your script is "funny." If you want "funny," please give us sides. I don't want to waste your time. I am a big fan of sides! Sides allow us the chance to see if we're on the same page as to the kind of "funny" you're probably looking for. There's I Love Lucy funny, there's Roseanne funny, there's Buster Keaton funny, there's Andy Kaufman funny, etc, etc.
End of tangent. Now to the specific questions:

*So, what I wanted to ask you about. Have you experienced this kind of either/or dichotomy -- expected to be pretty OR funny, but never both?

I can't remember encountering this in my auditioning experience.

*How pigeonholed are you in auditions these days? By your looks/age/ethnicity/possessionof a brain?

I once had an agent who I believe sent me out on any and all auditions for Black characters who could sing just because I am Black and I can carry a tune. Anyone who has heard me sing (and he has-- I sang two songs for him in his office) would say that I have more of a legit sound. But most of the roles he had me auditioning for were better suited for someone trained to sing gospel. I did my best at the auditions, but I felt like he was operating based on my looks alone.

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