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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Svetlana Goes to Dallas


I spent the last six days preparing for 3:00pm Tuesday, July 29th. It was the hour I was to become Svetlana and convince the world to buy my fabulous Cosmopolitan in a bottle. Scripts were taped to mirrors, in front of my laptop, and strewn around the house. The acting books were cracked for refreshers and I made the trip to Walmart to buy some smoky black eyeshadow, fishnet stocking and black eyeliner. I listened to eastern European accents and honed my skills while practicing in the shower, in the car, talking with Wiley, and basically whenever I thought of it.

Sunday night I did a test run with the "smoky eye look." Not bad! Monday I tried it again and went to one of the fancy stores in the posh outlet mall in Round Rock. "Just looking, thank you." Though I did try on one or two bargains. "No," I thought while looking at the items in the mirror, "Svetlana would NOT wear this. Unacceptable." I had a gut feeling that everything I needed for the right look was hanging somewhere in my closet.

I had general ideas for wardrobe. Red kept coming to mind. Red silk or red satin. It needed to be sultry, striking, bold and confident. I found a dress as Penney's that seemed perfect on the hanger. When I tried it on I was a cross between a wedding cake and a hooker. A definite no.

Even Brian got in the planning. While IMing from Iraq he Googled pictures of images that came to mind for the part. He was sure she needed to wear black. "It's what eastern Europeans think is fashionable," he proclaimed. Yes, the fashion czar has spoken (*wink*) But, in the end, look what the little lady chose.
Harold Guskin is a genius. He is the renowned acting coach who has assisted the careers of some of the top A list actors, such as Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, and James Gandolfini. In his book How to Stop Acting he assists actors in setting aside all the analytical work they are taught from day 1 and to create the character from yourself, trusting your instinct. I have always had a hard time putting a heart into my characters. They are show, not reality. By starting not from scratch, but with myself and my imagination, I can immediately generate genuine emotion and background for a character.

"Svetlana" was a huge challenge for me, which I was thrilled to take on. The character notes described her as an ex-model or jet setter type who partied with the top rung of entertainment and style, known for getting her way and being envied or desired by all she ran across. After nearly two years or focusing on being a mom (either while being pregnant or afterwards) as well as married (happily, I might add) for some time, this cat woman was totally foreign to me. Heck, I'm a corny girl! How was I supposed to pull of this sexy diva?

Well, thanks to Harold I am beginning to learn to draw from myself, which translates quite nicely into my regular life. Learning to trust yourself, go with your instincts and not care what others think of you while you learn is great for on camera and off. This is just the beginning of a new phase of learning, but I am thrilled!

The drive to Dallas from home is about 3 hours. This morning I dolled up, left Wilder at the house with Mima and hit the road with plenty of time to get lost and found several times over. What I learned on the way was worth noting, and quite funny.

A little over halfway to my destination I stopped at a Starbucks for a bathroom break and energy boost. Wearing a full cleavage tank top, tight pants and patent leather heels -with the fishnets- my only saving grace was a beautiful briefcase that doubled as my purse holding my treasured emergency kit of make-up, clothing and hairspray. At least with this large, respectable accessory I looked like an upscale hooker and not one that hung around nightclubs at closing time. A woman holding a young child appeared to be standing in line. Unsure, I asked her if she was. With a mix of disapproval and confusion, she said she was just waiting. Finally it was my turn to be served. I should have handed the stack of napkins to the poor kid who waited on me, the drool was bad. I was acting like "Kelly" while looking like "Svetlana" and it was a funny combination. Polite, well-spoken, chipper, while wearing an inch of makeup and a lot less clothing than usual. Hey, this was different from how I normally get treated while decorated with half eaten cheerios, stains on my clothes and holding Wilder! Perhaps it was my self consciousness, but I've noticed it with other dolled up gals: the room turns towards you. It's like when a refurbished hot rod rolls down the street -it's shiny; people take notice. Sometimes it's not positive attention, other times it is.

I arrived at the studio with an 1 1/2 hours to spare. I drove around looking for a place to wait and collect myself, preparing to put Harold's methods into action and knock them dead with my inner-Svetlana. Denny's was the only, and therefore obvious, choice. As I lunched on chicken soup and devoured the words of my new mentor, a lumpy middle-aged man passed by headed towards the restrooms. He did a rather sly, but very noticeable turn to check out what the front of me looked like and continued on his way. Coming out of the commode, the man stopped at my table, disgustingly drank me in with his eyes and slowly said, "I hope that man of yours at home appreciates all that he's got." I pertly said, "Oh, he does!" and the sleaze bag replied in the most oily tone possible, "I certainly hope so!"

YUK, YUK, YUK! (and I'm not mimicking the way Goofy laughs.) His lack of class and obvious grossness was hilarious! It could have been much worse, but I am thankful that was as bad as it got. Plus it furnished me with a story that will always make me smile.

With ample time I headed to my audition feeling confident and jazzed to knock them dead and sell my Cosmopolitan in a bottle! Signed in, I double checked my lip gloss in the ladies bathroom and waited my turn. "Kelly? They're ready for you."

Pleasantries and names exchanged, initial instructions given, pertinent questions asked, lots of confident and genuine smiles flew -at least on my end.
"Please slate your name and agency and then go for it!"
I was ready and rolling. Svetlana came alive in all her glory -and I had a blast!
The most you can shoot for is nailing your audition and being happy with how you did since that may be the only reward you have from the experience. It's like sending email inquiries for an item you want on craigslist. If they have another buyer, you don't get to know who it is and they don't tell you if the item is sold. Either they'll give you more info, it's sold or it's yours! You just never know.

Of course I'm excited to hear back, but if I never do I am so thankful for this experience to explore a new character and to continue learning. I had a terrific time.

Also, I had three auditions on Friday that went well -though this one was by far my favorite and the one I am most confident with. As with this audition, who knows if anything will come of the others. But, on to the next!

4 comments:

Brian said...

Great job, hon!

That would have been classic if you had stayed "in character" the whole time you were in Starbucks and Denny's, and had "Svetlana" in all her accented, Euro-cynical glory tell off all the rubbernecking dirty old men.

Referring to herself in the third person like in the script would be even funnier:

"I hope that man of yours at home appreciates all that he's got."

"(Scoffs) Svetlana needs no such man. Or men at all, for that matter." (Winks at a woman at an adjoining table).

I would have paid mucho dinero for the look on the poor guy's face.

Love,
the Fashion Czar

Anonymous said...

Kelly, can you post a video with Svetlana's accent? PLEASE!!! you look great!
BB

Anonymous said...

Amazing!

You always amaze me (:

Love, Mama

Anonymous said...

Good luck! Keep us all updated on if you get the part.
I agree- a "blog audition" tape needs to go up!!

xoxo-Cherie

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