Okay, I’m gonna kinda talk about what I do and how I feel about it here for a little bit. I have to get it out of my system, feel free to skip this and spend your allotted Rhodeside time looking at Emergencykittens.com or something. I would if I had the choice, but this crap is gnawing at my brain. So… consider yourself warned that actor whining is about to engage. Some actor good stuff will be included. But it’s actor, which is meh. And it’s me. Meh. (Get me, I’m an ambulance! Me meh me meh me meh.)
My heart broke a couple of weeks ago. Yes, it’s probably my ego, but it sure felt like my heart at the time. And still does. Here’s what happened…
My manager received a phone call from an Important Studio about me. They said they were making a Big Movie and I was perfect for one of the roles and would I come do a table read for it? (For those not so in the know, a table read is where you READ the script around a TABLE. Hollywood: land of subtlety and insinuation.) I crapped myself. This was a Big Deal. I assumed it was a tiny little role, because that’s how life works. I don’t go from middle-aged-sort-of-employed-who-is-she-I-think-I saw-her-in-something-no-that-was-that-other-gal actress to BLOCKBUSTER STAR because somebody likes my reel. Nobody does, let me tell you, no matter what the stories would have you think. So I thought I’d get to read, like, Optimistic Teacher or maybe PTA Mom, which would have been, truly, fucking awesome right there. This was a Big Deal.
However, I got the script… it was a huge role. I mean a BIG BIG FUCKING HOLY SHIT DEAL. And they were right. I was PERFECT for it. It was my style of humor, in my sweet spot of quirky cheerfulness meets deadly rage, and age-appropriate. I crapped myself again, then tried to rein it in. I tried not to attach too much to it. I tried to keep it in perspective. I tried to tell myself that nothing is guaranteed and no promises were made so that I would be prepared if nothing came of it.
I was not prepared for what actually happened.
They never even introduced us. I was in a room full of people, we read the script and when we had finished, an executive said, “That’s a lot tighter. I think the actors are really gonna like it now.” As I optimistically stood there hoping there was a Round Two or something, I was told I could have a piece of pizza. I left and sobbed in my car. Then I went to an audition for Best Buy, because clearly a Big Star was already cast in the role and actors of my caliber and status would just be silly to think they were there for any purpose besides not sounding like the writer’s assistants reading the dialogue for the eightieth time.
My manager said, when I relayed the story to him, that he was told I’d be “considered” for the role and anyway it was okay because I got in a room with those Important Studio People. I said, “Why? They have no clue who I am!” To prove it, I phoned in an anonymous tip that Kim Rhodes had planted a bomb in their lobby and they said, “Oh my God!!! Who is Kim Rhodes and how did she get in?” (No, I didn’t really, because that would be criminally negligent. And, technically, saying, “Do we want some unknown or Kristin Wig?” IS considering me.) But my point was, I believe, sound and logical. It was not a Great Opportunity even if they HAD loved me, because nobody ever said my name out loud.
My career is in the toilet. In fact, let’s type that honestly, shall we? My “career” is in the toilet. And it breaks my heart.
I had another audition recently where the casting person did not feel I was young enough for a role, but was bullied into seeing me anyway. I was somehow, during the course of our meeting, personally held liable for the fact that the ASPCA was doing nothing about the neighborhood cats shitting on this person’s roses. Yes, I cried in my car again.
It’s not personal. Right? Well, I’ve said before that it’s not personal TO THEM. My fucking job is to MAKE it personal. I take words on paper and make them human. So that other humans can hear and feel and identify. To do that, I have to open myself up to getting kicked in the teeth and there has been a lot of dental soccer going on recently.
My initial response was to look at houses in Portland, because, when it comes right down to it, I’d just like to have four hours every day to write fairy tales for grown-ups. I really do. The material that I get in L.A. is so hard to get into and so hard to get hired for and, once I have been hired against all odds, it’s miserable to work on because it usually sucks. “Make it funny, Kim!” “Make it emotional, Kim!” “Make it exciting, Kim!” NO, MOTHERFUCKERS, YOU MAKE IT GOOD! (For the record, the Big Movie was really really good. I’d probably be willing to see it in theaters if it didn’t make me want to heave-cry and rend my hair over my popcorn.)
After my initial phase of screaming, “Run awaaaaaaaay!” like I was reenacting scenes from “The Holy Grail”, I moved on to, “Fine. I’m taking my ball and going home.” I’ll just quit. A decree went down from Caesar that all the Christians were being fed to the lions. Thumbs down to everything, henceforth. Yay, sirrah!
Then I came to Vancouver to work on “Supernatural”.
Many people on Twitter wonder why they never see selfies of me with the guys. Why I don’t share more anecdotes or tell amusing tales about what goes on here? I would like to tell you why.
Did you know that there are people who still believe a photograph steals a part of a human’s soul. It kinda does when you’re an actor. No, not when we are at conventions and it’s why we are there, or even if we are in the mall and I offer to take one with your kid. That’s a wonderful and easy thing that gives me joy to bring you joy.
But when I work, I am naked. I don the clothing of my character through the trial and error of rehearsal. Sometimes I bend over and seams rip loose in risque places. Sometimes I get it on backward. It takes a lot of people to render the product finished, and when I am on set, I am vulnerable because, yes, I take this personally. I assume others do too. Sure, by now I’m betting no one would begrudge me a quick snapshot, but that’s not the point.
We are not immune to judgement. And every time an anonymous voice sprays vitriol in our direction, it leaves a little tiny spot of burn. Usually that heals in seconds, but those are still a few seconds of ouchie. So I don’t offer targets and the feeling of being vulnerable and safe immediately disappears when a camera comes out. It just inherently represents, “You suck!” or, “That reminds me, you really make me feel like crap when you say the word ‘suffering’ all the damn time!” A camera takes a private moment and hands it over to the world for scrutiny. And while the world might love it, the moment changes and I feel that all too… personally.
What little tiny thing I can do to keep this a comfortable place for them up here means the world to me. Because to me, this feels like home. I am safe here. I am valued and appreciated and challenged and stretched and asked to make a contribution that is unique and vital. In return, I take my time here as an invitation to stay with a dear friend. I would never walk into a friend’s house, change their music, and start throwing pictures of their bedroom up on Facebook.
Others may, and I swear I do not judge them. It is only because of my unique and personal damage from, uh, relationship with the business that makes me feel this way. But I wanted to explain why I don’t share more of my beloved little oasis up here. And thank it publicly for being the reason I haven’t put a down payment on a charming two-bedroom in the Alberta district.
I’m still determined to be more selective in what I put my effort, energy and self into. I have still resolved to say no when I mean no. But my heart has recovered enough so I can acknowledge that is it at least FEASIBLE that I can still be happy being an actor. And thank you for understanding why I do what I do to help these other amazing actors stay happy in their space.