Monday night I got a personal call from a relatively big time casting director in LA. I'd read for her a few times last year and she always seemed to like me. She had called my agent in LA who told her that they didn't rep me anymore. She asked for my cell number and called me directly to audition for a new Disney sit-com pilot. When she called I wasn't prepared for her at all. I've been out of that game for nine months now. Her normal LA industry tone was jarring: "Hey, Joe. It was hard to find you. Your old agent gave me your number. I need you here at 5:00 tomorrow to go straight to producers for a Wednesday shoot. You're perfect for this and I gotta fill it fast." Then she started giving me directions to her Hollywood office. I interrupted. In the heat of the moment all I could say is, "I'm in Ohio." I meant that I had moved here. She assumed I was visiting. "Can you get a flight back by 5:00 tomorrow?"
See how they think? I said no. She seemed upset - they always do. She said she'd call next time. I didn't have the heart to tell her not to bother. For a moment afterward I was stunned. These were similar conversations to what I would have on a weekly basis a year ago. For three minutes I was back in the middle of the industry. I honestly miss it some, but not all the time. They say a big part of making it as an actor is just having enough good auditions with someone that they eventually call and make it happen for you. I'm sure in a parallel universe I'd be reaping those benefits this year in LA.
Months ago someone commented on my blog that if LOST called me and offered a recurring role I'd move back to LA without thinking about it. I don't think that's true. Mainly, because LOST films in Hawaii, not LA, so I'd be moving there. Just kidding. I wouldn't move back. I'm here - called here. I think this phone call was one more confirming piece to that realization. I didn't call in sick yesterday and jump a plane to LAX. Could have. I didn't even consider it. I got a callback for my last five auditions in LA - the longest callback run of my life. I missed all five callback appointments because of my interviews here with The Vineyard. That's part of how I knew what was about to happen. I was happy to miss them to explore what God was up to here.
Last thought on these things...I told some friends that this casting director's recent call felt like a crack dealer calling a year into sobriety and telling me to come over for a free hit. Strangely, the intoxicating and addicting part of acting in LA for me wasn't the actual performing, but the competition of it all...doing whatever it takes to get that call at the expense of someone else is what the business side of acting is all about. When she was on the phone, it all came back. The inner dialogue of "she remembers me - she likes me - my work is paying off." There's something very unhealthy about that. Ohio's unhealthy because of greater access to fried foods and Greater's ice cream, but I don't find myself as desperate for approval or advancement as I did back in socal. That's unhealthy too...