This is like the twentieth time I’ve changed position but I still can’t sleep. The audition is tomorrow. I’m nervous about everything! My clothes, my hair, getting to the place, meeting the people, auditioning…everything! I go through my lines in my head with actions and expressions, I feel my cheeks change shape on my pillow and yes, I do know my lines. Too much practice isn’t good either, but I just can’t sleep! I reach for my watch on my side table. It’s one thirty seven a.m. and I still have about seven hours until my alarm goes off. My hand finds my glasses and before I know it, I’m up and on my way to the kitchen to make some warm milk. In the hallway, I notice that our front door is a little open and light leaks in from the landing, but then again, we don’t really lock it. I ignore it and walk to the living room but stop as I enter under the arch trying to find the lights in the darkness. All of a sudden, I hear some ruffling. I freeze in the darkness. It’s just me. I reassure myself. Then I slowly move my hands on the wall finding the light switch. As I switch it on, bringing light into the living room and blurring my own vision, I see a large man like figure rising quickly from the couch and leaping towards me. Uncontrollably, squinting, I feel my arms go for a scrappy punch and then I inhale to exhale a loud scream when a hand covers my mouth.
“It’s me! It’s me!” My brain registers Rio’s quiet but rushed voice as I feel his arm holding my arms down and his hand over my mouth. “Kye, it’s me!
I exhale and the scream dissolves and my eyes adjust to the light clearing my vision.
“Rio!” I shout in a whisper. “What the heck are you doing? You scared the shit out of me!”
Rio now places his hand on his nose where I accidently punched him, “Damn! You have a hard punch Kye!”
“Sorry, but you freaked me out!”
“Is my nose still straight? It’s not bent is it? Does it still look good?”
“Yes, your nose is fine.”
I switch on the kitchen light and then notice that Rio’s actually sleeping on our couch. He has a pillow and blankets and his phone is on charge on the floor. He sits back into his pillow and readjusts the blanket.
“What are you doing here?” I ask.
“Well, Deq and Lia had a fight,” he explains, yawning.
“Oh?” I’m not too surprised, they’re always arguing like parents. “Like a proper one?”
“Hmm,” he thinks. “Nah, just you know over stupid stuff, in fact I don’t even know how it started, but anyway they were arguing and Lia said she was going home, but it was really late and there were no trains, so I told her to stay until morning. By this time Deq had stormed off into his room, so I let Lia sleep in my bed and then I moved onto our couch which is too small, and yours is bigger, so I came here.”
“Aww, they’re like a married couple,” I say finding utensils in the kitchen.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking. They argue like my mom and dad. They’ll be back together by tomorrow. Deq will call her.” Rio laughs.
I giggle, “Haha, yeah, bless them. Milk?” I offer, holding up a pot.
“Well now that you woke me up and gave me a broken nose, yes please! Anyway, what’s your story? Why are you up? Worried about the big audition tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’m so nervous. I know my lines and everything, I’ve just never been into someone’s office to audition for a movie role. I think that’s what’s freaking me out and I can’t sleep.” I wait for the milk to warm up.
“I understand, but honestly, just be you. That’s who they want to meet, they want to meet you, Kyara. Even if that means you’re a little nervous, like you say, some nerves are good. Then when you begin auditioning switch into character, take your time, make sure you’re fully that character before starting. Do you know what I mean?” he advises me.
“Yeah, thanks Rio,” I smile.
I am a little calmer now. I just need to be me, then switch. Nerves are good. It’s okay. I pour the warm milk into mugs. We hear deep voices coming from the landing and give each other confused looks. I put the mugs down on the coffee table and walk into the hallway to find half-drunk Brian and Marcus coming to check why our lights are on. They went out with some of their friends tonight.
“Hey Kye!” Brian yells.
“Kye!” Marcus shouts with his arms open.
“Shhhh! Jen’s asleep!” I whisper.
“Oh shit! Jen’s asleep. Shut up Bro,” Brian tells Marcus.
They follow me into the living room.
“Yoooo!” Rio hisses. “How was it?”
“It was sick bro,” Marcus says.
“Yeah tings everywhere!” Brian adds wide eyed.
“Tings?” I ask for clarification.
“Girls. Damn I should’ve gone!” Rio responds taking a sip of milk.
“I see what you’re drinking nowadays,” Marcus chuckles uncontrollably.
“Shut up. Kye woke me up.”
We hear a loud bang of a door closing. Jen’s sleep is disturbed.
“Argh! What are you guys doing!” she shouts irritated, walking into the living room. “Is that milk?” she points at Rio’s and suddenly has a mood change.
“Do we have cookies?” she yawns.
I nod and get the cookies.
“So babe, did you have a nice time?” she asks Brian squishing next to him on the armchair.
“Yes it was decent. Just a nice lad’s night out, that’s it, just lads.” He replies cuddling Jen who giggles looking at me.
“Why are you guys up so late?” Marcus asks.
I sigh and flop onto the couch, “I can’t sleep because of my audition tomorrow and Rio gave his bed to Lia.”
They all exchange weird looks.
“It’s a long story between Deq and Lia, I’ll tell you guys tomorrow,” Rio says getting his mug back from Jen.
“So are you guys planning to stay up for long?” Jen asks yawning again bringing water to her eyes, “Because I’m a little tired.”
“Well, go to sleep babe,” Brian says kissing her head.
“But then I don’t want to miss out on the fun,” she wines.
Marcus and Brian begin to tell stories of their night out and then I get some last minute advice for the audition tomorrow. I try not to think about it too much, but some simple advice is good. With the midnight gossip taking my mind off the big day, the warm milk calming me down and the soothing advice building my confidence, I think I’m ready for tomorrow. I’m ready to get it over with.
I arrive at the address after a nervous train journey and a long sweaty walk to where the auditions are being held. The building is very modern for a theatre and towers high up into the sky with offices located on the top floors. I breathe gently to assist my heart rate so it returns to normal before entering the building. I’m just glad I made it without getting lost! I am early, but that gives me time to cool down. I enter the building and right in front of me is a signpost directing me to the ‘Angela Weir Auditions’. Before I follow the directions I take a trip to the bathroom to freshen up, cool down and check my face and hair. Then I take a lift to the eighth floor and find another signpost directing me left down a long hallway, then I see an open door with a poster on it that reads, ‘Waiting Room’. A young woman appears in front of the door, she’s dressed professionally in office wear with a ponytail. She holds a folder and a pen in her hand and seems friendly, so I decide to ask her if I’m at the right place.
“Excuse me…” I say as she approaches me with a helpful smile, “I’m here for the audition with Angela Weir, do you know-”
“Oh hi!” she says enthusiastically. “Yes! Oh my, you’re a little early, but no worries. I’m Donna, Angela’s Assistant.”
She shakes my hand and I try be as polite as possible. If she’s Angela’s assistant then she needs to like me too.
“I’m Kyara Averoni.”
She finds my name, ticks me off a list she holds and leads me into the waiting room, “We’re just preparing the audition room. You can wait here and practice lines or something.”
I take a seat slowly, “Thanks.”
“How are you feeling?” Donna asks.
“Err, I’m a little nervous, I’ve never auditioned before.”
“Really?” she’s surprised.
“Oh no, I mean, I have auditioned before, but like online, not online, I mean like a self-tape, this is my first time actually auditioning in front of a casting director…for a movie…I have done live auditions for theatre…before,” I speak very quickly and then laugh it off. What was that God? Was I supposed to say that? Is it bad that I’ve never done this before? Now they’re going to think I’m inexperienced! Oh Kye!
“Oh, don’t be nervous, it’ll be fine. Angela’s really nice! To be honest with you, I’m a little nervous too, this is my first time casting with her and in fact this is my first time casting a movie. We started casting two days ago, forty five girls were selected so we had to split you up over three days. It’s a great experience, everyone is different and wonderful in their own ways. So I’m excited for today but also still quite nervous, haha!” She comes to the end of that sentence as if she wasn’t supposed to say that in front of me.
We both giggle our silly mistakes off. We all make mistakes. Up until now I didn’t realize that casting is also a job, a career that some people want to take. I’m glad I met Donna, I feel more at ease now.
“Okay Kyara, the rest of the girls should be arriving soon, so if they ask, then this is the waiting room. I’ll call you in when we’re ready,” Donna says as she leaves the room. “Oh and don’t be nervous.”
She leaves and I’m left alone in a large room, waiting. In the quietness, I realize what Donna was saying and I realize how many chairs there are. There are fifteen chairs! There are forty five girls I’m competing against! And they’ve already seen thirty girls which means that I’m really going to have to stand out! I know I’m different, we all are, I know I have potential, but…I don’t think I have a chance, I have no real movie experience or an agent or anything! As I panic, a few girls walk through the door. They seem like they know each other as they talk amongst themselves. I smile and they smile back and then continue talking. I take the script sides out of my bag and recap my lines. Then I notice that they are talking about school. They’re from the same school. Angela must have watched plays from lots of different drama schools and then she must have selected potential actresses. A few more girls walk in and Donna comes in to take names. She tells us to wait for a few more minutes when Betty walks in. I forgot about her.
“Hi! What’s your name please?” Donna asks.
“I’m Betty Johnson,” she says politely, almost too politely.
“Thanks Betty, take a seat,” Donna leaves.
Betty has her back to me and looks for a seat. It’s weird seeing Betty alone, without her followers or her boyfriend. I’ve never seen her nervous either. She actually looks anxious until she takes a seat and her eyes meet mine. Her expression is priceless! It actually makes me choke a little. She is totally shocked to see me here. She looks confused, lost and angry.
“Hey…Kye…what are you doing here?” she asks defensively.
“Hey, I got invited for an audition too, I checked my email after you told me, and yeah, I had one. Thanks,” I say.
“Oh…well, good for you,” the diva inside returns.
I lower my gaze and concentrate on my lines, I’m already nervous and with Betty here everything could go wrong. She too finds her script and quietly reads. Half of the seats are full and Donna comes to count and announce.
“Okay, thank you for coming everyone. I will take you in one at a time for a very quick chat with Angela, myself and Rob the casting associate and then of course you’ll audition. Don’t be nervous, we’re all very nice. Just a few tips; leave anything you don’t need in here please, such as bags, phones etcetera and walk into the casting room prepared. You may take your sides if you need them but it’s not recommended. You’ll be in the room for no longer than fifteen minutes each. The room is not very big and I know this scene involves some action and the character is very energetic so please be careful and be aware of the space, basically don’t hurt yourselves. Once you’ve auditioned I’ll escort you back to this room, you may leave the building to go and get some lunch or fresh air, but we ask you to be back in this room by three p.m. as we will be announcing call backs at three p.m.”
There’s a scatter of surprise amongst the room. My heart just drops.
Donna continues, “I know it’s exciting! It is a bit of a wait but please do bear with us, the movie is scheduled to shoot very very soon, so we are in a rush for casting actors, but I’m sure you won’t mind. Toilets are down the hall to the right. There will be some more girls joining us during the afternoon, so if you could tell them to wait here if I’m not around then that would be great! Top tip: Be yourself! We want to know you as a person first and then watch you act, so just be you in the chat. Okay. Any questions?”
I don’t have any questions and nor does anyone else.
“Okay great. Good Luck! First up is… Natasha Wright.”
A very nervous girl who seems to be by herself follows Donna, the other girls whisper ‘Good Luck’ as do I, everyone does, except Betty. I don’t even know when it’s my turn. What if it’s last or next? I don’t like waiting long, I just get more nervous. I’d rather get it over and done with, but I’d like to know who I’m after. I try not to think about it too much, even reading too much of my lines is making me uncomfortable. I close my eyes for a while pretending to memorize lines while I actually pray and have a moment with God. God, I am really nervous. Whatever you do, I have faith in you. I really want this, but I only want it, if it’s right for me and only you know that. Please make sure I don’t mess up and embarrass myself. Argh God! I’m scared. Make everything go well please! Love you! My chat with God comes to an end and so does Natasha’s audition. A girl asks Natasha how it went. She doesn’t give much away except that it went okay. She looks a little disappointed, which freaks me out. She gets her bag and leaves. She probably wants to get some air, she does have a long wait ahead of her. I try not to think about her. They take a good ten minutes before calling in the next candidate, Betty. She follows Donna, pretending to be confident in front of the other girls, but I know her, that’s not her confidence, she’s nervous.
Fifteen minutes later, Betty’s back, her face is gleaming, she looks awfully happy. I can’t tell if she’s acting to throw us off or whether she’s actually that happy. She doesn’t say anything to anyone and no one asks, maybe they’re too afraid. Betty smiles to herself, collects her bag and leaves looking down at me as she walks past. Another ten minutes pass by.
“Kyara Averoni,” Donna calls standing in the doorway.
Oh shoot! God, this is it! I take a deep breath, tuck my bag under my chair, smile at Donna and follow her as I hear whispers of ‘Good Luck’ towards me. This is not going to go well after Betty’s huge smile. Now they’ve got her great audition and her pretty face in their minds. I’ve got no chance. The audition room is a few turns away from the waiting room.
Donna stops outside the room, “Okay, are you ready Kyara?”
“You’ll be great! Take a deep breath. Remember to shake hands and all that. Shall we?”
“Yes please,” I reply. This is it.
Donna opens the door and leads me in. The room is small and painted all white with dark laminate flooring, there’s a long desk at the back of the room, with three seats. Donna takes the seat on the end. In those seats sit the three judges, with mugs, water bottles, papers and pens. An empty seat is placed opposite theirs.
“Kyara Averoni?” Angela says standing from her seat with her hand out.
This is my time, “Hi, yes, I’m Kyara,” I shake her hand confidently, only my inner me knows how nervous I actually am. I’ve never shook hands with a casting director before. This is special.
“Nice to meet you Kyara, I’m Angela, this is Rob, our casting associate,” she gestures to her left.
“Hello Kyara,” he says shaking my hand as I greet him with a ‘hi’ and a smile.
“And you’ve already met Donna our casting assistant.”
“Yes, we have,” I say shaking Donna’s hand again and then thinking that was stupid, because we already did that.
“Please have a seat,” Angela says putting on her glasses and looking at some papers.
“Thank you,” I mumble.
“So, how are you feeling today?” Angela asks.
“I’m well, thank you. A little nervous, but I’m okay,” I speak in a polite and open manner. I mean, if they like me, they like me, if they don’t they don’t. I tell myself.
“Ah yes, we understand. You’ll be fine,” Angela responds to my answer. “So, tell me about what you currently do? You are a university student right? Do you study Drama or Theatre studies or…?”
“Oh… err… no, I actually study Physics,” I swallow hard. I bet that’s a shock.
“Oh wow! That’s a tough one…” Angela is shocked, in fact she doesn’t really know what to say next. “Err…how…what made you want to join the drama society?” she takes off her glasses, stops looking at the papers and now looks at me.
Donna seems very impressed and starts writing stuff, Rob on the other hand sits in silence with no expression whatsoever, he just stares.
“Well…” I pause, I need to get my words out right. “Acting is my aspiration and always has been, I’ve always joined my school’s drama clubs from a young age. I love it. It’s my goal…to become an actress. So I joined the university drama society.”
“But, then why did you chose Physics?” Angela is quick to ask the question. The question I dread!
I don’t know how to answer that. Any answer is going to go against me not choosing a Drama related subject. I try to say something, “If I’m honest, I don’t really know. My academic path has always been scientific and somehow it lead me to study Physics. I didn’t really know what subject to choose so I just chose one I was good at. I suppose I chose it for my parents, being the oldest in my family and the only one who’s been to university.” I spill half of the truth, the other half is that I personally don’t feel the need to have a degree in drama or theatre to become an actress, that’s luck and also physics is a good back-up, but I can’t tell them that.
“Alright. Okay. That’s fair enough,” Angela seems quite genuine with those words and as if she’s empathizing. “Okay so tell me a little bit about your creative side. Have you been in anything recently?”
“I did some amateur theatre work a few years ago, I also created my own short student film, I wrote the screenplay, directed it, acted in it and edited it.” I giggle in memory.
“Really! That must have been fun. Was this for a competition or something?” she questions.
“It was for a college project, my teacher told me it was a bad idea and that I shouldn’t make a film and that I should write an essay instead. However, I was really determined, so I did it anyway and got an A,” I boast shyly.
“Haha! Oh my! I like that!” Angela laughs. Her personality is bubbly and loud.
“Yes, it was worth it,” I fake laugh back as naturally as possible.
“Sure it was! I’m going to have to watch it. Is it on YouTube?”
“Oh dear,” I say blushing. “It is now.” After Jen made me upload it when I showed it to her.
“What’s it called?”
“Err… Lost Diamonds,” I say getting really worried, what if she watches it and doesn’t like my acting. What the heck am I getting myself into?
Angela writes ‘Lost Diamonds’ down on her sheet of paper, still chuckling, at my teacher I suppose.
“Oh I also write screenplays and I’m currently writing a novel, I just love getting my ideas down on paper.” I had to get that out there but I also try changing the subject.
Donna notes down everything as quickly as she can, while Rob still glares at me.
“Great! You seem very enthusiastic. I like that,” Angela finishes her questioning. “Right, now if you’d like to stand up, take the center of the room, I know it’s a little small. Take your time and when you’re ready, you may begin your audition. Donna will read lines with you. So be sure to make eye contact with her as and when you want to. Alright?”
I stand up, tuck my chair under the table and find the center of the room. Their eyes’ are fixed on me and I see Rob taking down notes as I just stand there getting into character. I try to avoid eye contact with Angela and Rob and look down at the floor as I take deep breaths to switch into character. Okay God, let’s do this. I begin.
I finish with a sharp emotional stare at Donna’s eyes. They don’t applaud or say anything. Rob still takes notes, Donna smiles to indicate that we’ve finished and Angela whispers something in her ear before thanking me and then asking me to sit back down. I sit in the chair again, relieved that it is over, for now, but unsure as to whether I’ve done well or not.
“Thanks again, Kyara,” is all Angela says but she smiles widely with her teeth. “Now, I just need to ask you a few admin questions; are you available on April 22nd, if selected for a callback?”
I have no clue what I’m doing on 22nd April. I don’t have my diary or my phone calendar with me to check, “Yes, I should be.” Obviously.
“Okay and I know you’re studying but what about from May 28thth to July 1st and onwards? They are the initial scheduled shoot dates and obviously if selected you would be required for a few days before that and then many days after that, but there’s an important action sequence being filmed during that time.”
“Yes, that’s fine. I’m available,” I smile. Honestly, that goes over exam period but if I get the role then I won’t need to attend my exams, believe me!
“Brilliant! So we shall let you know of our decision for callbacks later today. Do get some fresh air while you wait. Thank you very much for joining us today,” Angela shakes my hand again.
“Thank you very much for the opportunity,” I say gratefully, getting out of my chair. I begin to leave following Donna.
“I’ll be sure to watch that short film of yours!” Angela calls as I walk.
Shit. I turn around and smile back. She is not letting that go anytime soon. Donna walks me to the hallway where the waiting room is. I make my own way back from there as she goes back to the audition room, probably to discuss my audition. I am relived, but I’m also scared. Angela seemed quite positive towards the end when she was asking for my availability. Nevertheless, I’ve heard stories where the casting directors give you that trusting handshake or that wink that makes you think you’ve nailed the part and then they go and break your heart. For now, the hard part is over, I’ve done what I could, now it’s a matter of time. I find a few new faces have turned up in the waiting room, I scan the room for potential threats. To be honest, they are all a threat, they’re all unique. I get my bag and leave the room for some air and to call my girls and fill them in. It is literally in your hands now, God.
After talking to Jen and Lia, forcing myself to eat some lunch on an uncomfortable stomach, walking around the theatre twice and checking my phone a million times in the waiting room, three p.m. finally arrives. In fact, it’s gone a few minutes over three p.m. and we still have no news. Every seat has been taken up in the room now, all fifteen of us wait eagerly and anxiously for the results. There is some quiet chatter amongst those who are from the same schools, Betty talks quietly on the phone to someone and a few other girls just sit staring down at their phones.
“Hi girls, thank you very much for waiting,” Donna enters.
There’s silence, phones are put away and everyone’s attention is on Donna. The room is so tense that you could virtually hear everyone’s racing heartbeats. It is strange how we’re all here waiting for the same thing, with the same hopes and the same dreams but only a few of us will succeed, it’s even crazier that in the end, it may be that none of us succeed.
“Okay, Kyara Averoni…” Donna reads from a list. My senses come to life. I look up in anticipation holding my breath, but she continues to read names, “…Jude Hayworth, Ashley Miller, Saskia Bridges and Betty Johnson,” she looks to locate us. “Please make your way to the audition room. You may take your belongings with you,” she gestures to the door with her hand.
I quickly gather my bag and dump my phone inside it. My palms are sweaty and my cheeks are hot. Betty leads through the door followed by the three other girls and then me. We all exchange worried looks as we walk out. Maybe they didn’t like ours or maybe they want to see them again! Please don’t make me do it again! We walk to the end of the hallway and then hear some chatter behind us, I turn for a quick look, the rest of the girls are walking in the opposite direction as Donna catches up with us. What the heck is going on?
“This way girls,” she says with no smile, no emotion, nothing to give anything away.
We quietly follow. Donna knocks and then opens the door leading us into the audition room where we naturally stand in a horizontal line facing the casting directors. Angela and Rob are mumbling between themselves pointing at papers as Donna takes a seat. They stop the mumbling and Angela takes off her glasses. She smiles broadly looking at each of us in turn. I smile back politely.
“Welcome back girls,” Angela starts, “I hope we didn’t keep you waiting too long. It has been a very tough decision. Everybody is hugely talented and as casting directors we try to understand each and every one of you.”
My heart thumps in my chest. It’s extremely warm in here and Angela’s dragging on is making it worse. I feel like I’m going to faint or cry. I think I need to sit down.
“So, with a lot of discussion between the three of us and after being entertained by your auditions…”
Hurry up Angela! My knees shake.
“…We are delighted to invite you five from today’s session, for a call back on the 22nd April,” she ends with another stretching smile, showing her coffee stained teeth.
We gasp and look at each other in surprise, happiness and most of all relief. My hands make their way to my mouth and nose covering them. Betty let’s out a small shriek on the other side of the line and one of the other girls takes a mini leap in the air. I am in amazement, this is really happening. I just got a call back. I blink the water away from my eyes and move my shaking hands down. You did it God! Thank you so much!
“Well done. Donna will send you an email with some new sides along with some further information regarding a screen test and a fitness test which will be held on the same day. Don’t worry too much about the fitness test, we’ll just make you jump over a few obstacles like a pillow and make you do a few sit ups just to assist the screen test, however don’t ignore it as it is important for the role. Also, the producer will be accompanying us in the next audition, no pressure. You have all really impressed us and you are making this very hard for us, this will be the final callback due to a tight schedule so practice well. Thank you very much for coming.” She stands up to shake our hands.
Donna also stands up and makes her way to the door so that we can follow her. Betty is first to shake hands, Angela greets everyone with their names as if she’s remembering them.
When it’s my turn she says, “Kyara. The physics girl. I’ll be sure to watch your film.”
And then… she does the typical casting directors wink or at least that’s how I imagined it. I freeze. I don’t really know how to react! I feel a beam of potential success entering my heart. I express my gratitude sincerely and follow the girls out, of whom I find Betty standing directly behind me, eavesdropping. She looks worried and is noticeably unhappy that I got a call back too, I ignore her and make my way out. I do have a thought for all those other girls though, I wonder what Donna said to them. This is savage. But the world is a selfish place and sometimes it is good to be a tiny bit selfish and this is the furthest I have ever been with my acting career, so I should be happy, I too have received so many rejections in the past. Today I got a call back!