And now, some words of wisdom from Eugenie Bondurant...
Eugenie Bondurant here writing as a guest blogger on Andi Matheny Acting Studios’ blog page. I feel like the Chair of the Andi fan club. Let’s tell it like it is, she has single handedly turned out an ensemble of professional actors here in the Tampa Bay area with whom any southeast agent and casting director can confidently work. I am proud to have had the pleasure of working with her the past five years.
So, on to the blog contribution, a “Once Upon a Time” story series.
Story 1: Be Thoughtful
Once upon a time, there was a middle-aged actor who booked the most prominent role of her career. The role was small but pivotal, the film projected to be viewed by millions of people. After filming, she was asked to be interviewed by the production-distribution company for the “Making of…” video included in the DVD sales. It was her first time doing this type of thing and she was nervous (What if she was a cornball bumbling idiot?) The production team was terrific, polite and caring. After the interview, she sent a thank you note to the lead producer, for helping her feel so much at ease.
Cut to five years later…
Another “Making of” interview - different project, art house film, same production-distribution company. After the cast zoom interview, she was sent an email from one of the producers saying: "Many moons ago we interviewed you for Mockingjay! ☺ You sent a very nice hand written letter to our producer. I hope all is going great with you!"
Never underestimate the power of being appreciative. You have that power within you. People remember the small things you do.
Story 2: Believe in Yourself
Once upon a time, there was a middle-aged actor whose acting career had floundered due to life’s obligations, her age bracket, moving, etc. She thought it was pretty much over for her. She hadn’t updated her headshots, demo reel or résumé in four years. She was discouraged. She was renovating a house and was covered in dust all day. She had aged out of the exotic former model/androgynous/unusual category. One day, her agent called and asked her to audition for a role in unnamed film. She could lean on her now-standard replies “I’ll never book it,” “I don’t have the time” or she could pull herself together and put herself on tape.
Out she went to be taped for the unnamed project (what the hell, at least that day she wasn’t covered with dust) with her checklist: Makeup (check), hair done (check), slick cat suit on (check), lines memorized (well, there were three – check).
A week later, her agent called her – “you have a callback in Atlanta.” Again, she could have leaned on her standard replies saying: “I’m out of town” and “I don’t have appropriate wardrobe” but she pulled herself together and in the middle of her vacation up north, she flew down to Atlanta. It was the best callback she had ever had. The director was funny. There was special chemistry between him, the casting director and the middle aged woman. She left on Cloud 9.
A week went by with one phone call from her agent – “No news. I think it’s up between you and someone else. They’ll let us know tomorrow.” Another few days…and then…the call. Booked it.
Believe in yourself. Keep up your materials. Keep working on your passion even if life feels glum. You got this! It’s just when you think nothing is working is when the universe puts it all together for you. Smile! Breathe!
Story 3: Be Professional
Once upon a time, a middle-aged actor booked a role in a small indie horror film in which she played a homeless woman. What fun! She noticed as she was about to be driven to the set the female director hopped in the same car. In the conversation that ensued the director mentioned that she originally looked at one talent for the protagonist but ended up booking another. Why? The first talent’s on-set reputation for bad behavior preceded her. The first actor even had a much stronger profile and public following, but the director went with the other talent, who ended up being outstanding and won many awards for her performance.
Just goes to show you – Be Nice! Be professional. Don’t be rude – to anyone. People talk. It doesn’t take much.
Story 4: Being Worthy
Breathe In – “I’m worthy of what I’ve been given and what is in the works for me.” Breathe Out – “I’m grateful.”
Once upon a time, a middle-aged actor auditioned for an unusual film role. She didn’t understand the character but she did her best and sent in the tape anyway. She was then was asked to tape a few more takes of a given scene. She did. Sent them in and to her surprise got the phone call.
While on set, there were all these big name stars. She had been around people like that before but didn’t often have many scenes with them. She was nervous. She was prepared. She was excited. While on set, she was asked by the director to repeat specific actions again and again, sometimes up to 15-20 times per set-up. She had never experienced that before, and in the past, if she didn’t please the director quickly, the insecure anxiety monster would come to life inside her head.
She later found out the director wasn’t intentionally trying to make actors feel uncomfortable, he was trying to get the best shot. What he was seeing was different than what the actor was experiencing.
What is it about insecurity, or what some call Imposter Syndrome, that makes us feel that way? If we don’t watch out, a “I’m no good” mantra will take over. Don’t go there! We are worthy. We do need to deliver good work but let’s do it with a clear head while remembering that we are all part of a team – the director, writer, actors, producers, and crew working together to create magic.
Story 5: You are unique. Use it.
Once upon a time there was a middle-aged actor who remembered that when she first started acting she thought she could be cast in any type of project, from soap operas to big westerns. She continually sent her headshot out to hundreds of LA and NY casting directors hoping that someone would notice. Much to her chagrin she realized that the number of auditions for which she was called were few compared to her friends.
It finally dawned on her that the roles for which she was being cast were not the “everyday person” roles, as in the doctor, young mom, loving mom, leading lady, girl next door. Why? Because of her type – tall, thin, angular, androgynous, kind of gangly, catlike.
She finally realized that yes, she didn’t fit every role but the roles that were right for her, fit her like hand in glove.
Know your type. Some people call it “brand.” See where it can take you, you may be surprised.