Honestly, it has come so fast that I didn’t see it coming. I always thought that I would get cast in a major movie during my time here and then would have to leave my studies to go and fulfil my dreams. That’s how I imagined I would become an actress. Yet here I am, in my final year of education with no real opportunity or likelihood of becoming an actress before we graduate and leave. Then again, anything is possible; I’ve lived my life so far by that phrase, though nothing much has happened. God, what are you planning dude?
Classes are getting harder and everything in this final year is so much more intense than I expected. Jen is all over the place too with the NASA project almost coming to a finalized design and her astrophysics course becoming busier with exams, class tests and final year assignments. Plus, she has a huge literature thesis to write on the one and only Shakespeare, which is the final assignment for English literature. I’ve completed the first draft of my book and I’m half way through the second edit, which has been delayed thanks to my parents, who forced me to stay an extra week at home due to a cousins wedding. Physics is becoming tougher to study and to top everything off, I’ve started writing a screenplay which is about an actress, obviously, and a group of aspiring dancers, so it’s a dance movie like no other! All of this has meant that Jen and I have had to resign from working at The Mirage, because everything is just getting too much to handle. Brian has begun his master’s and it actually seems easier than the bachelors! He’s in class only one day a week, although he does have quite a few assignments to do and it is research based so I suppose he has a lot of work to be getting on with. Marcus still has this year followed by another to go before he graduates as a doctor, however he is now in practice as a student doctor at the local surgery twice a week. Lia and Deq are just getting through their final year like me, though they argue a lot these days. Which makes things a little awkward for us because we don’t know what to say or do when they argue. I mean, Lia’s our girl, we take her side most of the times, but Deq’s our guy and he pretty much lives with us. It’s crazy how we won’t be living together this time next year. Everybody will have jobs, except for Marcus and we’ll all be going our own ways, different ways. I don’t have a clue what I’ll be doing. Hopefully, I’ll be on a set shooting scenes for the next blockbuster. Argh! I can’t imagine myself in an office, working nine till five. What am I going to do? This scares me. Like seriously after this year, I have no plan. Education has been my excuse to stay out of work, out of a job and out of a career that I don’t want to follow. It’s my excuse because I know students get more free time which allows me to write and audition, nine to five won’t give me time for that! So when education is over, my excuses will be over. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll do a master’s, that’ll give me an extra year of excuse?
“Hey,” Jen comes in, interrupting my stressful thoughts about my life after this year.
“Hey, how was your day?” I ask putting my pen down, tired from holding it while procrastinating.
“Usual, literature is just so long, I sit in class just thinking, why am I here,” she heads to the kitchen to find lunch.
“Yeah?” I question for more detail.
“Yeah. At least the final year teacher is nice. We’ve never had her before.”
The boys come in together, also as usual, at the usual lunch time to take a break and gossip.
“Dr. Kennedy?” Brian asks leading the way.
“She only teaches final years. She’s nice. Not my type, but nice,” he jokes.
“Ew. She’s like fifty,” Jen reminds him in sarcasm as the boys chuckle.
“Well, not like our Dr. Kennedy then,” I say.
“Hell no! She’s the complete opposite, really helpful, caring and approachable,” Jen warms some snacks up in the microwave.
It is winter, cold and frosty outside. It is forecasted to snow soon and we still need to put up some Christmas decorations.
“Anyway, I need to go and work on my design. I aim to complete it before we start the final semester after Christmas.”
“Speaking of Christmas, this will be our last one together,” Marcus says with some emotion.
“Yeah, so I expect good presents!” Rio laughs.
“Like what?” I ask.
Rio places his hand on his chin, “I would like…”
“…And no we can’t afford to get you a GTR,” Jen interrupts him.
“Forget it then,” Rio shrugs his shoulders and then cheekily smiles, “I don’t need anything, as long as no one goes home for Christmas and we all celebrate it together here, I’m happy with that.”
Jen and I let out a girly, “Awwwww!” at Rio’s heart-melting comment.
“That’s touching dude,” Brian says.
“I think we can give you that,” Deq says slowly.
We didn’t even see Deq sitting there. He and Lia have been having some relationship trouble, over very minor things. Well, they are minor to me, but I guess if I was in their shoes it would be major.
“What do you want bae?” Brian asks Jen.
“Hmmm, I think I’d like that too, just everyone here for Christmas, together,” she replies, “And some new gym shoes would be great.”
“What are you going to get Lia, Deq?” Brian accidentally asks.
Deq purses his lips, “Hmm, I don’t know.”
“Sorry dude, I forgot,” Brian says.
“It’s okay, I mean she’s okay with me for now. You know, it’s the festive season, I’ll make it up to her.”
“That’s my boy,” Rio hugs him sarcastically.
“What about you Kye?” Marcus asks.
Me. I want something that’s easy to say but hard to achieve. It’s simple but complicated at the same time. I’ve wanted it always, but still haven’t got it. I’ve asked for it every Christmas, birthday, religious festival and still have not got it. Now, I want other things too, but that’s still my top wish. We are merely human, we will always ask for more.
“I want to be blessed with my dream of acting turned into reality,” I press my lips together. “Can you get that for me please?” I giggle, but it hurts my heart.
They sadly laugh too.
“Ah, if only,” Jen replies. “We should probably put some decorations up.”
“Yes please!” I close my books quickly. I’ve been sitting in front of them for like three hours and haven’t written or learnt a single thing.
We munch the warm food down and shove our books out of the way. The Christmas decorations are stored neatly – by me – in one of the kitchen cabinets - ours and the boys’. We have three small Christmas trees, one for each apartment and then we usually put all the gifts under the one in our living room (because it is slightly bigger but also because we don’t trust the boys with presents). We’d usually open them a few days before Christmas as everyone goes home, but this year we’ll open them on the Christmas day, together. Lia joins us soon after. As normal, we girls are the neat decorators and the boys just make a mess with all the decorations in all three apartments. We have music playing out loud in the background and we sing along whilst putting up Christmas lights. This is the last time we’ll be doing this and I can feel the emotions in my body but I don’t let them out. Instead, I capture everyone’s beautiful expressions and joyful faces that will remain with me forever because I don’t know where we’ll be next year.
We complete our and Brian and Marcus’ apartments and are putting up lights in Rio’s and Deq’s when I feel a vibration from my phone. I stop reaching for the lights as Rio takes over from where I hold them in position and take out my phone from my pocket. It’s an email. I unlock it and then click on the email. At first, all I see are the words ‘Casting Audition’. It’s probably a newsletter from one of the many casting networks I have joined and am paying for monthly to receive casting notifications. But the email address has an actual name rather than a ‘noreply’. I scroll down, frowning. My heart begins to beat faster. Could it be? God? I begin to read.
We attended your School’s performance last summer and found your acting skills to be exceptional. We thoroughly enjoyed watching your performance.
We are currently casting roles for an upcoming film by MSR Productions and would like to consider you for casting.
If you are interested, please send us a self-tape of the sides (selected part of the script) attached by January 12th.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Angela Weir Casting Ltd.
I stand in shock. Staring at my phone, which I hold out in front of me. Rio switches the music off and they all stop to look at me.
“Kye?” Lia says.
I’m unable to speak. If this is a joke, it’s disgusting. If it is not, then… I scowl and sit down on whatever is behind me, which luckily is the arm of the couch. I read it again in my head but this time I mime bits of it, not making a sound. I check the email address. It is certainly from Angela Weir. No pranks. No junk mail.
“Kye!” Rio shouts.
I look up at them with my mouth open. Brian takes the phone from my hand and reads the email as I freeze.
“Kye!” he shrieks. “You got an audition!”
“What!” Jen yells taking the phone from Brian, reading the email out loud with Lia looking over her shoulder.
“No fricking way!” Deq says in surprise.
“Kye, this is what you wished for, kind of,” Marcus says putting his arm around me.
“Damn! I should’ve wished for that GTR!” Rio yells looking up to find God.
“Oh my God! Kye, it’s an actual movie! An actual Hollywood movie!” Lia yells, shaking me.
“We better get started on that self-tape! Kye!” Jen wakes me up from my shock.
Oh my God, I have never received an email like this, asking me to audition, usually I’m the one asking to audition. “I can’t believe it, there were casting directors watching our plays!” I say in disbelief.
“Yeah, what’s Blondie going to say to that, huh?” Jen says out loud.
“Kye you got an audition. That’s something. I told you, you were going to be an actress. I knew someone would pick you,” Rio embraces me. “Now you better hire that bodyguard,” he winks.
“Shh, guys, I haven’t been picked yet,” I say. I’m nervous already. “Auditions are a long process, this is just a self-tape, after this there’s so much more to do and they might just call it quits after watching the tape.”
“Well, girl at least you got an audition, that’s an achievement in itself!” Lia shakes my arms.
I feel a smile coming along. I have waited so long for this! It is a step forward, whether I get it or not. “I got an audition!” I let out my excitement holding whoever sits nearest to me.
“Angela Weir,” Marcus reads from my phone.
“Yeah, I know her, well, I don’t know her but I’ve heard of her, she’s casted so many top movies in Hollywood.” I have done my research and I do know who she is, that’s why this is a big thing.
“Whoop! Kye’s going places!” Brian says in delight.
“Okay guys, lets’ not get our hopes up, because well, I only have a teeny tiny chance. You know it’s going to be tough. I’m sure I’m not the only one auditioning for this. I could be, but we don’t know that,” I try and settle myself. “I know what this industry is like, I’ve been rejected many times before.”
“Yeah but this time, they emailed you and it’s not advertised all over the internet for publicity purposes like the other ones with a one-off random email address,” Jen talks sense, that’s what they usually are. “This has been sent personally to you, by a top casting director who has already seen you act!”
“Hey, don’t stress Kye. We’ll keep it cool, no pressure,” Deq reassures me.
“And we are going to get this self-tape done as perfectly as possible,” Lia adds.
“One hundred percent. There’s plenty of time and we are all here to help,” says Marcus.
“I’m reading lines!” Rio announces.
“No! You put me off!” I yell.
“What? Nooooo, I bring the best out of you. I’m telling you, you need me,” Rio expresses.
“What if it’s a girl, dumbass?” Jen talks to Rio.
“Then…I’ll put a voice on. I’m good at that.”
“You’re right, you are good at that,” Brian jokes as Rio punches his shoulder.
“Alright, it’s good news. Now let’s finish the decorations and tidy up, then we’ll take a look at the sides and Jen, you better get working on that project,” I say getting up and carefully saving the email before putting my phone away.
“Jen, you really need to start building that thing,” Brian says.
“I know. I know. I just want to make sure that the design is perfect because I don’t want to mess the construction up, if the design is near enough perfect it’ll be easier to build.”
`We all get back to work and finish the decorations quickly and quietly. Much quicker than before. Everyone is eager to read the sides, so not time to delay.
After we finish decorating and tidying the mess the boys had created, we sit down to read the sides. They aren’t long, only a page and a half. It is a strong piece with a feisty feel, or at least the girl seems feisty from what I can tell from the short sides I received. And the other character is in reality a guy – a bad guy from what the script reads – so Rio takes the first bid on reading for the tape - not that it matters anyway. I still can’t believe I got an email! Thank you God!
* * *
“Merry Christmas!” Jen runs into my room and jumps into my bed waking me up. I’ve noticed when she is excited about something, that’s the only time she’ll get up early.
“Merry Christmas Jen,” I greet her hugging her back. “Is it snowing?” I ask.
We get up, Jen lifts the blind on my window letting in a strong shine of brightness. It’s not snowing now but it had snowed all night and it has set well. It looks beautiful. We take our morning coffees over to the balcony and enjoy the scenic view of the university grounds. It’s quiet on campus but still festive, Christmas trees are up in places all around the gardens and the colorful lights had already been turned on today. They can be seen clearly against the glistening snow. We turn our lights on too.
“This is nice,” I say enjoying the warmth of the coffee, watching the cold outside.
“Hmm,” Jen makes a sound wandering off into the wonderland.
We hear Shakin Steven’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ being played on a speaker getting louder as the boys and Lia join us, Deq places the speaker on our TV stand.
“Merry Christmas Everyone!” Rio exclaims with joy in time with the song.
We run into the living room and everyone wishes each other a Happy Christmas, then we get the breakfast going. Jen, Marcus and I had prepared Christmas Dinner last night, so all we need to do is stick everything in the oven and get on with the prezzies!
That was probably one of my best Christmases. Even though we got each other crazily stupid presents like a pack of funky pens from Deq and a small flashlight that in tiny writing says ‘To Light up the Path that Leads to Your Dream’ from Rio and a keyring to go with it from Brian; the presents where keepsake and special because they are from friends. Jen got her gym shoes and a phone case with the solar system on it, with the planets in order. Her project had been finalized, by, well… us; and she started creating the materials list. The longest part is now over, we just hope the design doesn’t have any flaws that might cause her problems when actually building the thing.
The New Year is on its way and I want to get the self-tape done and sent before then. We’d already recorded the intro or as they call it the Slate; which basically is my name, height, where I’m from etcetera and we are half way through filming the audition in the kitchen against the plain wall, which is proving difficult with Rio reading lines. Although, we can’t blame him alone, we’ve done it plenty of times before and it is always difficult, only this time I have a better chance of actually getting the role, so it needs to be perfect.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” Rio shouts in an interesting accent from behind the camera that Deq holds.
“I don’t know! And don’t ask me again or-” I act sharply toward the camera.
“Or what!?” Rio cuts me off in good timing reading from the script.
“Or I swear, I will knock you out and leave you here,” I reply quickly. I imagine my character to be confident, quick and unafraid, so I don’t think she’d stutter here. That’s my take on it.
“Huh,” Rio shrugs awkwardly still trying to stay in character.
“Keep up!” I shout at Rio’s character after some stage directions, keeping well in character.
“What the hell was that dude?” Marcus blurts out laughing at Rio.
“Cut!” Jen yells as if we’re on a real set.
“Ahh guys!” I cry taking a deep breath and then using the opportunity to quickly look at the script.
“Huh,” Brian imitates Rio’s shrug laughing at him.
“What! That was good!” Rio defends.
“That was actually a good run,” Lia says looking back at the recording next to Deq.
“It’s okay, I’ll edit it all together. Let’s just get it all filmed,” I say quickly remembering the last few lines.
“Was that not good?” Rio asks.
“Actually, it was,” I say impressed.
“See!” Rio yells.
“Can you imagine Rio on the screen?” Brian whispers to the other boys.
“Hell no!” Deq whispers back.
I put the papers down and position myself back to where I was to avoid the shots jumping when I edit the tape.
“Okay, last little bit guys,” I call.
“Yeah, don’t mess it up, we’ve been doing this all day. I’m hungry,” Jen reinforces to the boys.
“Ready?” Deq asks.
“Action!” Jen unnecessarily shouts.
We finally finish filming. After so many takes, it comes to a point where I kind of just have to be satisfied with at least one of them. Marcus and Rio go and take a break outside playing some basketball. Brian helps Lia and Jen cook dinner while Deq and I sit down to put together the several takes as best as we possibly can to make the final self-tape. After a few hours of fidgeting with the takes and asking everyone what they thought about each one before selecting the right one to go into the tape, we finally complete the self-tape. We show it to everyone and I watch it multiple times to ensure it’s the best it can be. Honestly, I always feel like it can be better, but you get to a point where you just have to go with it. Also, I have a tiny feeling that this self-tape isn’t that great, but I always have that feeling. Now, the problem is time. It is twelve thirty two a.m. if I send the email now, it’ll look stupid. I know people don’t usually check what time an email was sent but this might put them off. It’s unprofessional sending an email late at night. What if it’s on their phone and it bleeps while they sleep? I’ll have to send it first thing tomorrow morning. I make a note in my diary and highlight it in bright orange.
Ten a.m. I’m up and already checking the tape once again, reading through my reply email a million times and just waiting to hit the send button. I don’t want to do it too early, I think around about now…is a good time. I can imagine the casting director settled into their office, with some coffee, checking through their emails and then they’ll receive mine, it’ll be fresh and right in front of their eyes. Send! I press the button, breathe and look up. God, I have faith.
“Sent it yet?” Jen comes out of the bathroom drying her hair with a towel.
“Yes, just now,” I reply.
She touches my shoulder as she walks into the kitchen.
“It never happens but worth a try right? At least I won’t regret not taking the opportunity,” I mentally prepare myself for rejection as I shut down my laptop.
Jen smiles at me, “Just forget about it now. You’ve done your bit. Let’s see what he or destiny does,” she points up and then changes the subject, “It is freezing!”
“You’re going to get pneumonia, you better go and dry your hair!” I shout like a mother.
Jen frowns at the myth.
“This will keep you warm.” Brian flirts as he enters with the boys and hugs Jen tightly wearing a warm knitted Christmas sweater.
“Get a room,” Marcus comes in with a plate of breakfast.
“Sent it Kye?” Deq asks.
“Have you guys heard about the Final Spring Fling Ball?” Rio questions looking at his phone.
“Oh that email we got a few weeks ago…” I begin, not really interested in the ball and thinking no one else is either.
“Oh yeah, we’re all going,” Jen says pretty assured that she is going.
“Well, my final year is next year, so I’m not invited,” Marcus sits down with his breakfast.
“Lia and I have booked tickets too,” Deq adds.
“What?” I ask very confused at the moment. “So everyone’s going?”
“Yes,” Brian responds.
“And you didn’t tell me?”
“We thought you knew! We…we discussed this…didn’t we?” Jen asks trying to remember and leaving me confused.
Rio interrupts with a yell, “Nope! No you didn’t, because I didn’t know! Someone just posted it in the mechanical engineering group chat, that’s how I found out. It’s on the 1st February for all final years,” he reads from his phone. “I’m going. You coming Kye?”
“Err, nah, I don’t think so…” I say.
“What! Why not?” Jen’s quick to respond.
“Well, I’m not going to have anyone to hang out with,” I make my point.
“You’ve got us,” Brian says.
“No. You’ve got each other. You’ve got Jen, Deq and Lia will be together-”
“You got me!” Rio winks at me.
“Yeah, you’ll go off with a million other girls that you either already know or will meet.”
“That’s not true,” Rio pretends to be defensive.
“That’s so true,” Marcus buts in.
“I’m a very loyal person. To the one girl I’ll call ‘Wifey’, one day,” Rio says quite nicely.
“Have you been watching Love Island?” Jen asks him ironically.
“Kye, we won’t leave you and you’ll have your class mates there too. Mingle in! You’re an actress, you need to get used to it,” Brian speaks the truth.
“Yeah but my class mates are you know… stereotypically unsociable.”
“Hey come on! I won’t wonder off, it’ll be fun!” Rio’s excited.
“Yeah, you know we’re still going to sit together anyway and I won’t leave you, sisters before misters,” Jen says high fiving me.
Brian wears a dumped look on his face, “Yeah okay, bros before…” he whispers the last bit to his pals and then fist bumps them.
We’re going to the ball.