Most days, I am a stay-at-home mom. Other days, I am a working actor. GeekMom editor Corrina Lawson suggested I share with you a day in my life as it happens, from the set of a commercial.
I know; it sounds kind of glamorous, right? The lights, the camera, the action. First, let us back up and look at all of the things that had to happen before I actually booked this commercial. Keeping up with head shots, casting sites, actor reels, networking, research, and classes. All demand attention and updating—most of which is done after preschooler bedtime at nine o’clock at night.
Let me focus in on just the commercial acting world. How does an actor go from a smiling picture submission to booking a spot? The first real step is getting a great commercial agent. This can take years and like any transactional relationship, requires a lot of give and take. Agents have the professional connections to get actors in front of casting directors. Casting directors are looking for the right person to fill the roles for their commercial spot. Clients like Hasbro and Honda are in need of someone to put a face on their products. Often, these faces (the competition) all look fairly similar. It is a surreal thing, being the talent. I have learned how to let go of any sort of validation through the process. Sometimes, I just have the right look. Sometimes, I make them laugh. Other times, the collective minds change and my role will be filled by a tall man with a beard.
Great agent, relationships with casting directors, credits on a resume. What next? Work begets work, booking commercials, making money, and getting sent out again. That smiling picture floats to the top of the large head-shot pile and work happens. Getting noticed and getting notices that auditions are upcoming. These alerts are usually sent with less than 24 hours of prep time. The email includes a ticket about the audition, what to wear, where to go, and what to say. More times than most, sides or lines for the character are given at the audition with maybe five or 10 minutes to be memorized. This includes choices to make the words bounce off the page. No pressure right?
In my world, once the audition time is confirmed, I start scheming. Who will watch my three-year old and how to get there on time? Just last week, I was given two hours notice to get to a casting. Ella had to come with me in the actual audition room. Thankfully, the casting director was very understanding. Auditions are not paid work, so hiring a sitter is sort of a counterproductive expense. I have commented often how the unpredictability of this world is in such a stark contrast to the ideal routine life with a young child. I try to take things one small step at a time. Life is a moving target, right?
When I first became a mom, the desire to work outside of the home really disappeared. J.J. Abrams could have offered me a part in the new Star Wars and honestly, I would have turned it down. Ella needed me and my world was hers. I know it’s important for daughters to see their moms in other roles. I am glad that balance is returning to our home. Mr. Abrams can visit me with that part any time now.
My daughter is beginning to understand that I am an actor and what that all means. I try to involve her in running lines, getting mommy camera-ready, and even practice silly dances together. She tells me to “break a leg” when I leave. It’s just part of our day-to-day life. Getting paid to act is nice work when I can get it and l am grateful, but it is not easy. There is a constant juggle. I am lucky to have a great agent, supportive friends and family, and a patient husband.
So here it is for you to follow along on; a day in the life of a GeekMom actor:
5:30 a.m. Wake up after restless up-and-down night with Ella. Get hair and makeup to a “natural” look. Look up where the set is and join the morning commuters.
7:00 a.m. Arrive at craft services, food trucks, coffee, crew, and security. There is a team of hardworking people who are skilled in putting together a moveable feast of film production. Paperwork, sign-ins. actors, crew, production,;these are the members of my tribe. Coffee on hand, time to wait.
7:30 a.m. Text from my husband, asking where my daughter’s witch tights are.
8:30 a.m. Wardrobe, hair and makeup. They are always the coolest team on the shoot. Music, hairspray, and gossip. Back to waiting. I really don’t mind the waiting. It is a rare thing indeed to get to sit anywhere long when you have a preschooler.
9:15 a.m. Call from home. This time, the monkey pants can’t be found.
10:30 a.m. All of the talent (all of us) are taken to a holding area off-set. Seeing any set for the first time is always exciting. Lights being hung, art department making things look real, walkie-talkie noise, and hustle. More waiting.
11:00 a.m. Rehearsal, wardrobe checks, Diet Coke and yes, waiting. I have signed some paperwork which prohibits me from sharing actual details, but this is going to be a hilarious spot. The choreographer is from a well-known dance competition show.
12:00 p.m. First shot of the day, a tight close up on me! Can’t wait until I can share this with everyone. It’s a great, fun spot.
1:30 p.m. Check my phone to find out I have another audition tomorrow. It’s for a film, lots of sides. Wondering how I am going to learn them being on set all day. Homework tonight!
2:30 p.m. Break for lunch. I had the shrimp and chicken. Called my little one and her dad to check in. She has fallen asleep in the shopping cart.
3:30 p.m. Back on set after makeup touch-ups.
5:30 p.m. Break time. Heading to the craft services table for snacks and coffee. There is always tons of food on sets. Well-fed actors and crew tend to be happy actors and crew.
6:30 p.m. Last shot for me. I dropped the beat. I am DJ Housewife.
7:30 p.m. Last call home from a crew member’s cell phone, because mine has died.
8:30 p.m. Time to head home. I am welcomed by my husband, who had a successful day with his girl. I get in just in time to read a goodnight story to Ella. She insisted she wait up for me. My heart is full. I am proud of myself for working hard on set, but the best moments of my day are here in the dark with my family.
Melody is represented by Firestarter Entertainment. Her IMDB credits include a cameo on the popular geek show, The Guild: Season Two. She was also Hygena on the Stan Lee Syfy channel show, Who Wants to be a Superhero. Here is a look at some of the things she has filmed since becoming a mom: