When I Stop Reading by Thea Lux

While I'm attempting to land representation out here, I've been doing more aggressive searches for roles on my own. I have notices sent to my inbox, I'm subscribed to message boards and peruse casting sites daily.

I'm excited that shows such as Orange is the New Black and other new media is giving non-traditional actresses like myself a chance at screen time, but we've (obviously) still got a long way to go.

As little girls we play princesses and queens, we swing from trees and jump from swings, we crawl through tall, uncut grass and imagine being heroes and villains. We walk tightropes and play air guitar. We are puppy dogs, we are popcorn kernels, we are clowns, we are valley girls and bossy pants. We are silly dancers and soaring eagles, radio hosts and secret agents. We are told we can be whatever we want. We pretend to be whatever we want. We are beautiful.

Now as real life grown-up actors, we're regularly told we're only allowed to pretend to be a few things. I can pretend to be a sales representative or a mother. A quirky bank teller or an attractive girl's friend. I've been told by an agent that I don't have a face for TV. I had to pretend that didn't hurt. (ACTING!)

Over the last few days, I compiled a list of casting notices I received and noted when I stopped reading them. This isn't to say that I have poor self-image or don't think I can't play sexy or beautiful, but there are intentional adjectives included in these write-ups that communicate "We don't want your type." (Say that line like James Van Der Beek would.)

  • REAL COUPLE. Very attractive. [Had to break it to the Husbo one of us didn't make the cut.]
  • "Female Runner" should have a good running stride and athletic body [NO OTHERS SHALL RUN.]
  • Flirtatious , BEAUTIFUL, YET INTERESTING [The Beautiful yet Boring role has already been cast.]
  • Sylvia is a carefree beatnik hipster who lives in the moment. Lana Del Rey/ Kristin Stewart type Role will involve: smoking cigarettes ,dancing, stripping into underwear (top only) [Whores take off their bottoms.]
  • Caucasian. 18-25 yrs. Any hair Color. Alluring features. [Glad they don't care about hair.]
  • This is a comedic role. This is for a plus size actress only. [Well, duh.]
  • Looking for a girl that can ride horses and feels comfortable in a beautiful dress. [Even dresses have to be beautiful in Hollywood.]
  • "Real" Models [Take a seat, mannequins.]
  • Female Detective - Any ethnicity. 30-40 years. Professional attire required. Well spoken. Very attractive. [Oooh, a SEXY Murder She Wrote.]
  • Lisa Tina is a menaced woman tormented psychologically by her love interest; Eddy. Tina is a call girl [So close.]
  • Party girl modest beauty, crazy body [Bodies taking Thorazine will not be considered.]
  • Beautiful print model [As opposed to those UGLY models who clutter our magazines.]
  • Almost a femme fatale kind of character. [Almost.]
  • Experienced presenter, speaks eloquently, formal/ professional in appearance. Good looking. [Ahem, she will be PRESENTING.]
  • Angel is a hot bi sexual party girl [IS THERE ANY OTHER KIND OF BISEXUAL?!]
  • Female Body Double. Height 5’0-5'2 and around 100-110lbs. Shoe Size 8-9.5. Hot body, dancer type body. Great Fit Body. [I kept reading because I wanted to see what else this body was.]

I absolutely also receive notices of roles I am "qualified" for, but the numbers are way fewer. If we were basing a census on these roles, 70% of females would be gainfully employed as strippers.

But things are changing. Slowly. At least I try to pretend they are.

Risk is the Theme by Thea Lux

"The reason they're posting on Craigslist or a public forum is because they don't have a friend circle to ask." - My husband.

"What you are doing is brave. You are very brave." - My therapist.

I only half-believe these statements. 

I've reached my two month mark with the CHI > LA move and it's enough that people ask, "Have you been to the beach?" and I have to reluctantly say I haven't yet. I HAVE been hiking. I HAVE been to a taping of a show. I HAVE cycled Silverlake. I have auditioned and made it into Groundlings classes. I HAVE seen outlines of women's labias as they strut down Hollywood Blvd. wearing fashionable napkins. 

I have also been trying to find a band out here.

"Los Angeles is a really great city to see music in, EVERYONE comes here...But it's not a band town." - My Los Angeles friend.

So, risks. Risks are what I'm taking. I'm BRAVE, remember? I answered a Craigslist ad that was looking for a female vocalist for a two-piece garage rock band. And I got a response. And throughout our correspondence I only noticed three red flags. And they weren't major. They were hues of red. Shades I could ignore and blame on the insecurity I felt about starting from scratch and meeting new people. "You're Being Paranoid" embroidered on a Venetian red flag, that's more like a dish towel anyway; you're reading too much into this.

And within 24 hours a meeting was established. We were to have a beer and then head to a rehearsal space down the street. He sent me his music. And the next day he sent a few more red flags via text.

"Hi."

Why is he texting?

"What's up?"

Why does he think anything is up?

"What time are we meeting?"

I stopped myself from sending a screenshot of our previous texts confirming the time and location we were meeting. Be cool, Lux. People text.

He was coming directly from the airport to meet and play music. And while I admired someone's dedication to the arts and refusal to sleep, I realized, "Oh...he must be young."

I shut my blinds and ignored the passing Color Guard's choreographed red flag routine.

And so we met. He brought his suitcase into the bar.

In small talk, I find out that he's 26. He's surprised at my age and it took him 10 seconds to register the concept of me being married. Couldn't even fathom it. I told him, "Yeah, sometimes people get married."

"So how long have you been in Los Angeles?" I asked him.

"I just got here," he replied.

"Like, you just moved here?"

"Yeah. I'm heading to an Air B&B after this," he said.

A weighty red flag toppled from the bar's mantle onto my head obstructing my vision. It took me a while to escape from underneath it.

There's a point in first meeting someone where you realize it either is, or is not going to work. And while in theory HE DID NOTHING WRONG with taking a risk trying to find a band mate even before he set foot on California soil, he didn't know that my risk needed his risk to be, well, less of a risk.

My risks are still (possibly detrimentally) responsible. I moved to California after both my spouse and I had jobs and there is enough money saved for a financial buffer. I specifically went to therapy for six months to make sure this process would go smoothly emotionally and also wanted to be called "brave" by a stranger.

His risks alienate those (The Royal Those) who only dip their toes into risky waters when they are assured the water is warm and there are no sharks. Just plenty of supportive Chicago people waiting in the water for you.

Say "risk" one more time, Lux.

I paid him for the rehearsal space and let him down as gently as I could. I wasn't willing to blindly lead the blind this time around.

I saluted the red flag and made my exit towards calmer waters.

 

 

 

 

 

The Quiet of the Pasture by Thea Lux

I get irrationally angry every time iTunes makes an update. What could they possibly be changing now? It means I have to learn something new and there’s a chance I might not be able to learn it. This constantly happens. When I was in film school, we edited on a program that by the time I graduated was already out of date.

I feel the world is moving very fast. Words of others flood my newsfeed saying the things I wish I could say eloquently. If I do participate in the conversation, by the time I formulate my opinion and craft my thoughtful response, there’s something new that’s broken in the world that needs commenting on.

I sometimes feel like my voice doesn’t need to be a part of the conversation all the time. Or anymore. It’s tiring. I don’t know if I care if my voice is heard. Does it even matter if another voice is thrown into the mix? Yes, in a sense. Voices, ideas, insights cause change. Eventually. And as much as I like to cozy up on the couch in my Snuggie of Cynicism, I do think things are changing for the better. But it’s fast. And it’s noisy.

I worked at the Apple Store during the second iPhone launch. Before the launch, my eye twitched for an entire week from stress. The whole thing sucked as much as you think it would. Lines started way before I arrived and would wrap around the building. I hid in the store's bathroom a lot to avoide the sales floor.

After the initial flurry of consumerism died down, a man his 50s came into the store, pushed in his wheelchair by his caregiver. He wanted to buy an iPhone to text with his sons. He also had Parkinson’s. Real bad. His hands convulsed as if he was cursed to constantly be shooing away flies.

Now this is before the iPhone had Siri. Reluctantly I did what I did with every customer. I demo’d the phone. I hoped maybe I was wrong, that he would be able to use this phone, but I couldn’t find the way to tactfully say, “This isn’t the right phone for you. I’m sorry. Technology doesn’t care that you can’t use it.”

I demoed the phone.

Here is Safari. Swipe.

Here is Mail. Swipe.

Here is Text. Swipe.

Here is the Keyboard. Click.

I handed him the phone.

Safari.

His hands shook.

I helped him open Safari.

Text.

His hands shook.

I helped him open text.

Keyboard.

One finger attempted to battle his tremors and type on the keyboard while I held the phone steady. A garbled message of “Hi” auto-corrected to another incorrect word. I spent an hour with him until my emotions got the best of me. I asked a manager to relieve me and I went and cried in the bathroom. I couldn’t help him. I couldn’t heal him. Computer technology was faster than medical technology.

[The man bought the phone. But he came in a few days later to return it--I can’t fully remember if this is something my brain is recalling correctly or not.}

Do we really need to keep up? Is there a time where we technologically put ourselves out to pasture and yell at kids to keep off our lawn (from that pasture)? Or is technology just going to do it for us. “Keep up, or you don’t get to participate anymore.”

I like the quiet of the pasture.

Leave at Rush Hour by Thea Lux

"Late breakfast at The Grind before heading out to Los Angeles. Ever see two grown people cry in public while eating? We're here."

The morning of our move, we had a late breakfast at my husband's favorite local coffee shop. He'd managed to become a regular and after catching up with the staff saying our current catch phrases, "Yeah, we bought a car," and "It'll take about four days," and "A dog and a cat," we sat together at the small table in a dazed silence.

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