Jessica Runck, Published November 28 2013
Homegrown Hollywood: New role brings back memories of disastrous first audition
It’s pretty exciting to just write that sentence.
It’s even more exciting because this was a role I never thought I would play. “Ashley” was described as a “sexy party girl.”
I usually play that kind of girl’s nerdy, socially awkward best friend.
But I tapped into that one time in college when my roommates and I threw a giant party (before I cried and left the house), and it went well. The producers must have thought so, too, because a week later I was walking onto the set of “The Exes” (watch it on TVLand).
I was led to my dressing room and greeted by the cast (people I have watched and admired on TV for years.) I looked around at the cameras, the crew, the actors, and I couldn’t help but remember the very first time I was ever on a studio lot. The very first time I ever auditioned for a big role. The very first time I ever came close to my dream.
And it hadn’t been like this at all.
I had just signed with my new manager, and it was my first network audition. Before that, I had only auditioned for student projects or movies whose filmmakers made sure to start every audition with the words, “We can’t pay you, but …”
So I wanted everything to go perfectly.
The morning of the audition I rehearsed and rehearsed. I had chosen the perfect outfit – a salmon-colored dress with short sleeves – and decided exactly how to wear my hair. But as I stood in my pre-planned outfit reciting my lines, I happened to glance in the mirror and realized my perfect dress highlighted something unfortunate: my sweaty arm pits.
I panicked. Changing my dress was not an option. I had planned on this dress after trying and rejecting everything else in my closet.
My audition was in an hour, and I needed an immediate solution. Just before I thought I might have to go buy a new dress, I remembered something.
A minute later I was digging through my bathroom drawer. Finally, I pulled out exactly what I was looking for: maxi pads.
I had read that you could use the pads to line the armpits of a dress. Plus, it said right there on the package they had “moisture-locking protection.” Perfect.
As I crossed the Warner Bros. lot, I was confident. I knew my lines, I had on the perfect dress, and I had moisture-free armpits.
I strolled to my audition, and I noticed that everyone was being incredibly kind to me. An important-looking man held the door, a producer I knew waved at me, a complete stranger said hello.
“If this is what big-time Hollywood is like, sign me up,” I thought.
A few minutes before my audition, I ducked into the bathroom to do a final check.
Teeth – check! Hair – check! Make-up – check! Armpits –
There, hanging out of the sleeve of my dress was a bright pink feminine hygiene product.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t even look at myself.
This was why people had been so nice to me. This was why people had smiled at me with, what I now realized, was sympathy, not kindness.
I stood staring at myself in the mirror, humiliated.
But now, as I stood in my dressing room about to film my scenes for “The Exes,” I thought back to that day almost three years ago.
I realized none of that mattered.
I may never be the girl who has it all together, who doesn’t get nervous and who never makes mistakes. I am not the sexy party girl with the perfect hair and the perfectly dry armpits.
But I play one on TV.
Jessica Runck, who grew up in Wimbledon, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, is a writer and actor living in Los Angeles. Visit www.jessicarunck.com for more information.