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The Gender Gap

Male_female Another day.  Another conversation.

Last night it was with a male actor friend who is in his fourth straight show since the spring.  And he is now rehearsing for a fifth before he then heads out to California in December for a sixth.

Six goddam shows in a row, people.  Meanwhile, I can't even get a callback.  (I'm really starting to kick myself for being so lazy with searching Back Stage during my show.  What was I thinking?  Of course, maybe it wouldn't have made a difference… Oh lordy, you know it's bad when you can't decide between kicking yourself or just being fatalistic and negative.)

During my last show we had four male roles to fill and had to beg, borrow and steal to get those actors.  And at the same time, our director had lamented that she wasn't able to use some of her favorite female actresses because there just wasn't room for them.

What the hell?

I told my friend, I said, "Look, I don't mean to be disparaging about talent – but it totally sucks that this business is so much harder for women."  To which he agreed.  He even told me about an open call he'd been to once where he arrived 3.5 hours early only to sign up as number 40 – that is, behind 39 women already in line.  At the audition he was told they were desperate for men and needed someone to fill a certain replacement role asap.  This was for a show that paid great and would make the performers Equity – a fantastic opportunity!  And only seven men auditioned that day.

It's mind boggling and definitely enough to make any actress who's struggled for years frustrated as hell (bitter, anyone???). 

I met a woman recently who used to work as an Indie film producer and she was telling me all the steps to take to get auditions – mail CD's and production houses whose work I admire.  When I told her I'd done all that before, she seemed skeptical.  I said, "It's really hard as a young, average height brunette to get noticed in this city because there are a zillion of us."

She immediately agreed without even a millisecond of hesitation.

Ugh.  I swear – I just really, really don't know what I got myself into sometimes.  Right now I'm struggling to stay positive – having that show end and not seeming to be able to keep the ball rolling.  Plus I have a birthday coming up fast and I can't help but worry that my ship has sailed.  I know that can't be true (Can it?), but… after so many years of struggling,  I just…

Ghost Cue: FEAR.

Gotta get out of the funk…

What to do?  What to do?

--Susan Atwood

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Comments

Stacey Jackson

Hey Susan,

I know what you mean...We are in the toughest category by far. I cringe when I hear agents, managers etc. say "Let me see if I have anyone that plays your type already. I don't want a conflict with my current clients." Well, who doesn't have a cute 20 something brunette-ish girl already?!

You have to believe that you have something special to offer that goes beyond your type. And you have to believe that your hard work will eventually pay off.

My best friend and I came up with a motto in college. It's called Last One Standing. While we watch other friends and colleagues give up after 2, 5, 7 years of trying to break into the business, we're still going. Last One Standing. We're so driven that eventually something will "pop." Because we aren't giving up. And eventually the talent pool will narrow.

At least, that's what we tell ourselves. ;)

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