Archives for category: acting

As the year ends, and another birthday arrives at the end of the month, I have to reflect on what I’m doing here. Both in Los Angeles and more existentially.

I’ve stopped submitting myself for any acting work, partly because I just need to make more money right now, and partly because I have the luxury of an agent submitting for me.

But going out for the professional television auditions once again brings me back to why I started writing here. Butch is just something most people don’t understand.

I’ve auditioned in the last month to play an estranged military wife, a “newsboy hat lesbian” (I nearly got that one), five different Eastern European members of a women’s ice hockey team (because all scary butch women are written as Eastern European, apparently), a “burly girl”, and a big dumb friend, among a handful of other non-specific parts. Other than the military wife – which, as far as I can tell, I was only called in for because they were looking for short hair – all the parts were written to be played bigger, dumber, and uglier than I am. So bizarre.

And you know, I’m what they call a “character actor” – meaning more interesting and less beautiful than the romantic leads. On the whole, I don’t mind playing big and dumb and stupid. But I still really hate that that is how butch women and MOC characters are written, if we’re written at all.

If any of you have examples of great, smart, normal butch characters out there in the media/tv/film world, I would love to learn about them. I want to see more of what’s been done so I can position myself to fill the ever-widening gap.

 

 

Location: a casting office in Van Nuys.

Look: super cute smaller butch, slicked up black hair and I think some piercings (I’m a sucker for piercings).  Black track suit to match the “sporty” character we were asked to play. Great smile. 🙂

This tribespotting almost doesn’t count since it was during an audition I had this week, but guys!!! There was another butch at this audition!!!

That has never ever happened to me before, in three years of acting in LA and 15 years of acting before that. Sure, there were a whole lot of other women there too who might or might not identify as butch, although none read butch to me. And sure, this butch woman didn’t seem to be an actor professionally – but it was SO GREAT to have some solidarity in the waiting room.

The best part was that the role was for an ice hockey player, and wasn’t even specifically “butch”. We are slowly infiltrating.

 

Hey All –

I’ve been running around like a lunatic this week, and mulling over some major changes that are in the works. In addition to signing with new representation, my gf and I are starting to look for a new place, and I’m considering quitting my day job and taking my freelance career on full time. With the acting, of course.

Just wanted to drop a note saying that even though being an out, butch-identified actor is super difficult, when I get a chance to audition for a role, I’m always really excited about the parts available to me.  Today I had a great audition for NCIS, to play a Naval Lieutenant Commander . I mean, that’s just awesome. I love any roles that involve uniforms. Complements my tailored style.

For this audition, we read the scene with the casting associate while the casting director watched. They didn’t film it, like they sometimes do, but that was ok – my gf had filmed my rehearsals last night and this morning, but it was great just to get to connect with a person instead of the camera. When I finished, the casting director said, “Nice work.” It’s a small thing, but they don’t have to say anything to you at all, so I left feeling pretty pleased, bought myself some cheap Chinese (no rice – I’m once again on the quest to lose fifteen pounds and I’m down 4 as of today) and a gift for my gf who’s having a terrible time right now.

Three weeks ago, I decided to ask myself this question every day: “Why is my life so fun, creative, and easy?” Your brain can’t NOT try to answer any question. Today I feel like I was living the answer.

… and i’m feelin’ good.

I woke up today having completed a goal I’ve been after for the past year – I finally signed with a new agent. Well, technically, he’s a manager, but he used to be an agent, and in LA they’re almost the same thing.

The best part about this was that I was able to get in juuust as a perfect role for me was posted, a recurring lesbian gf part on New Girl. Now, due to unforeseen complications, I unfortunately wasn’t asked to audition, but that was more about timing and not at all to do with me or my marketing materials.  And it pushed the envelope regarding why I need a rep working with me on this whole career thing.

As much as I’m learning to take control of my life, to create the opportunities I want to enjoy myself, and to not wait around to be “validated” by anyone, there is an unparalleled sense of security that comes with knowing someone who’s been in the business longer than I have is rooting for me.

This doesn’t mean I will work any less hard. But it does mean that today, I am awesome.

 

 

I participated in an acting workshop last week where you perform for a group of agents, who in turn evaluate you (and, hopefully, sign you). Part of the workshop involved a coaching session with a casting director prior to the final performance, so that no one is going in there wasting either their own or the agents’ time.

I’m really comfortable with coaching/performing/auditioning, all the trappings of an acting career (thank goodness), so I was looking forward to the coaching just as a professional check-in. I figured I’d go in and get some tips on the scene I had chosen and that would be that. I don’t fit into any of the typical actor categories – “young mom”, “beach bikini girl”, “gruff blue collar man” – so for me the game is just to be known to as many people in the industry as possible. Since I’ve determined I’m the only “hip, young butch” around.  At least Guinevere Turner thinks so.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by the cd’s only real question to me – but it caught me off guard anyway: he took a look at me, took a look at my pictures, and said “So why don’t you have dyke-ier headshots? Your photos look like a variation of ‘young mom'”.

This is a weird variation of a theme I uncovered back when I was taking a “business of acting” class last winter, which is that people feel REALLY strongly about me and my butch or queerness.

If someone sees the softer (aka “less butch”) side of me, they often REFUSE to think of me as butch, even though that’s what I ask for and prefer.

Alternately, a lot of people here think I’m the dykiest thing since Doc Martens and the Chelsea haircut.

I think he’s right though (leave it to a gay man in Hollywood to lay it out for me) – it’s probably time for some butch-er shots. Case in point – the brilliant photographer who took my last round of photos wanted only to capture the soft side, so while I have great pics, they lack that gayness. Je ne sais queer, if you will.  Which I’m discovering, for my career, is essential.

 

 

The first weekend of Outfest, I decided to spend Saturday afternoon at a TV panel where the writers of some of the shows with gay characters (and most of them gay themselves) would talk about how TV comedy writing has changed to embrace gay characters over the past 25 years.

The panel included six writers with some extensive credits (Modern Family, Glee, Will & Grace, Family Guy, Frasier, Nurse Jackie, Roseanne, Gilmore Girls, etc), two women and four men. They actually represented a pretty good cross-section of experience – the women spoke about how most television is written by men, one male panelist spoke about his contract on one show requiring that he and his writing partner stay in the closet, while the others exclaimed that they couldn’t believe that! etc etc.  They got into the nuances of writing gay characters and trying to write for the overall show while paying attention to being honest for the gay audience. It was pretty insightful.

There is always an elephant in the room for me, at these events. Where are the butch/less than femme/other queer gals?  Why is no one writing them? The panel started with a great montage of queer moments in TV comedy: Billy Crystal on Soap, Roseanne‘s lesbian kiss, and a clip from the upcoming The New Normal (from Glee’s Ryan Murphy), to name just a few. I was excited that in The New Normal, the scene they showed had a lesbian couple cuddling their baby while walking down the street.  One of the lesbians was butch (!!! Julie Goldman, of course) and the other was kind of heavy. Both were in plaid shirts. (see them in the trailer here at 50sec) Great, right? I go in search of alternative lesbians, and I find them, right? Sort of.

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