Archives for posts with tag: hollywood

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

After my horrendous Tuesday which bled into an equally horrendous Wednesday last week, I am finally recovering a bit. Had to really sleep it off this weekend.

On Thursday I was able to sit down with the Coach for ten minutes and run the scenario of my Tuesday night reaming by him. He was so sweet, duly mortified, and incensed on my behalf. Aside from pointing out the disrespect that man had to go off on me in HIS arena, surrounded by HIS people, where I couldn’t truly defend myself without banishing all polite conduct, Coach brought up an interesting point about Hollywood: in this town, ‘gay’ is an action. Until you are ‘doing the thing’, maybe you’re gay and maybe you aren’t. Everything else is style.

Which is why so few actors can come out before they’re famous. Sure, they’re gay in private, out with friends and their partners, but not on the talk shows or in the movie theaters.

This isn’t news to me, but last week clarified the concept in a new way. That man I spoke with on Tuesday obviously was offended by my style because of the verb it conjured.

I have to say, though – the closer I get to myself, the more I love that my concept of being butch is lessening its grip on my identity as queer.  For me, the two are indelibly intertwined, but I think I’ve long struggled with they idea that folks would obviously “see I was gay.” I went from being ashamed of that to accepting it, and now I can see beyond it entirely. Who cares?

I also love knowing that, although I don’t know anyone personally like this, there are women out there who consider themselves butch and are NOT gay. That’s awesome – that opens up a whole new vista for self-expression. I give a virtual high-five to those women.

I’ve been out for 18 years, and I’m not planning on stuffing that away while I pursue this most-public of professions, but I’m gaining the courage to defend myself from the haters and this just adds another tool to my arsenal.

… you can’t be it.

So says my wise lady. I want to be it so that others can see it. That’s what all of this is about.

It’s starting: the boulder is beginning to shift, and once it’s rolling I plan on hitching a ride.

Last night, while catching up on back episodes of Grimm online, I was delighted to see a butch woman of color playing a small guest-star part* as the principal of a high school.  Here’s an internet high-five, pal!

If you’ve seen a butch in the media lately, do let me know. We shall celebrate and watch our numbers grow.

**(For those outside the Hollywood lingo: if you have one line in one episode, you’re a co-star. If you have a small but necessary role in one or two episodes, you’re a guest star. If you’re not a lead character but you’re in several episodes, you’re recurring. If you’re in every episode, you’re supporting. And if your face is on the billboards, you’re the series regular. I won’t even go into the money involved as you climb that ladder, but suffice it to say I’m aiming for the billboards.)

 

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