Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Whats a Girl Gotta Do To Get An Agent In This Town?

Apart from the obvious of course, which I considered and decided isn't tempting.

I mean seriously, what does it take? Apart from being an elderly Korean man, or any man frankly.
I know I should be looking at myself and thinking, “Yes Frothy Mocha, you are unique! You are the only actress out there that’s like you.”
But it’s very difficult when you look at agent’s websites and trawl through pages of girls in the 25-35 bracket who look exactly like me.
From what I’ve seen in the year and a half I’ve been writing to agents, it’s virtually impossible to get any decent quality paid work without one. Most higher profile establishments, and especially commercials, are closed shops to any outside the comfy confines of the inner circle.
I’ve had two different sets of headshots, I’ve done several bits of (unpaid) theatre which they could have come and see including most recently in a really convenient respected fringe venue.
And do they come? Do they, my arse.

I’m in the most heavily populated bracket possible and I have very little that marks me down as seriously different.
I’m slightly mixed-race but not specific enough.
I can’t tap-dance, ride a motorbike, tight-rope walk, speak seventeen languages, play the accordion or drive an HGV. I’m not a tennis-pro, Mariah-impersonator, I’m not quirky, edgy, hip or whatever you kids call it these days.
And I’m not over 40. Although I’m starting to wish I were.

I’m a regular, Caucasian-ish actress, slightly over thirty, and I can sing. Solid, reliable, talented, trained and professional.

That, apparently, isn’t enough.

Answers on a postcard. Or comment box.

Frothy Mocha x

Monday, 6 December 2010

Zzzz, Yay!, Zzzzz, Yay!, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

That’s pretty much been the pattern of my life for the last 6 weeks or so.

For that blessed period I have been able to call myself a working actor in a decent run of a good show on the fringe.
And like most jobbing actors, this period involves working the day job at the same time, where I must confess to working pretty much on auto-pilot whilst my body deals with burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle.

Rehearsal period busy but not too bad despite the boss’s irritation at my change in shift patterns. Then the run which mostly went thus:

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

I have given up any hope of having a home and decided to live permanently on the Tube.

An old actor once said to me that most actors put the same amount of effort into a two hour performance as most people do into an eight hour day. So when you’re doing both, it pretty much renders you incapable of functioning as a human being.

But now that it’s all over, and I am exhausted, run down, badly-nourished and under-sexed, I already miss it.

Finally I can do laundry, catch up with long-neglected friends, clean stuff and do something about the spots that rose to the surface under the constant bombardment of stage make up.  And tomorrow I get to go back to the day job, without the “distraction” of my actual career.

I’m whooping with joy. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Frothy Mocha x

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Tonight I imagined myself winning the BAFTA for best actress. Details included what I'd wear, who my date would be and what I'd say in my speech. I decided I'd be on the verge of tears but manage to hold them back.

I now feel fully prepared... and a tad suicidal.


Americano with Soy

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Another Day Another Dollar?

It's all very well following your dream and that, but it's another thing entirely not having any bloody money! Now I can't complain too much, I live at home rent free (thanks Ma!) so I obviously save a big chunk in that department, but still! I still find my precious pennies draining away, and I'm intending (dreaming, hoping, praying) on moving out sometime next summer.

Par example:
Oyster Card: at least £20 a week, if not more.
General Weekend Socialising: £30-60 a night, depending on the type of night it is.
Phone Bill: £40 a month.
Nightclub Membership: £7 a month (yes I know this one isn't reeeeaaally necessary but if you new me you'd understand!)
Afghan Aid Donations: £2 a month.
Going To The Various Shows of Everyone You Know That's Now an Actor: £8-10 a pop.

So you see it all adds up. Plus there's a hundred other things I'd love to be able to do to better myself, such as join a gym, singing lessons, Spanish lessons, a DJ course. Ha! Dream on! At the moment I need to have 2 regular jobs to afford all the day to day stuff and attempt to save up to move out. So if I'm working most afternoons at job 1 and then most evenings at job 2 when oh when do I have time to go on auditions etc so I can begin to flourish in my ACTual job?! Hmm??? I haven't even glimpsed at CCP for weeks! Plus my internal calendar can only really handle one thing at a time, so what with trying to figure out when I'm free to do what shifts for which job there's no room in there to make myself available for afore mentioned 3rd job.

I'd say I'm not so much living the dream as dreaming the dream... cue SueBo.

Americano With Soy

Saturday, 25 September 2010

You Gotta Love The Tube

Personally I think all those people that sit on the Tube with their head stuck in a Metro, or zoned out on their iPhones with headphones on, are missing out.
You may think I say this because a) I get travel sick if I read on the Tube and b) I can’t afford an iPhone.
No, I say this because you really are missing out on a wonderful world of freaks.
London is a perfect melting pot for them, and the Tube (or any form of public transport) an excellent cross section of said pot. For an actor, this is an invaluable source of material. Characters leap out at you from all angles. Real people, with real lives and real habits, are fascinating.

Where else can you see a man in a business suit, wearing headphones and weight-lifter gloves doing a full work out of sit-ups, press-ups and chin-ups on the District Line?
And, I swear I kid you not, the following day, same line, same time, a completely different man doing exactly the same thing?
Where else does a large German gentleman slide his head beneath your arm that is holding the overhead pole and loom around your neck so that he can read the map?
The average looking middle-aged woman carrying a can of Special Brew with a straw in it.
The elderly man who thinks he’s Quentin Crisp.
The people who suddenly remember something funny and accidentally laugh out loud.
The people who don’t think you can see them picking their nose.
The looks on people’s faces when they get a text message from someone good.
The drunks, the harassed mothers, the students, the tramps, the tourists.
Ohhhh the tourists.  Particularly the ones that get off with large suitcases and immediately stand still and go “Hmmm, now I wonder where I’m going.” While 50 commuters pile up behind them in an angry sweating human bottleneck.
(My most favourite line from American tourists: “Oh look honey…Bond Street. Is that the same as James Bond Street?” )

I particularly enjoy watching people, and note I do not just say “women” here, doing their make-up on a Tube. I’ve done it myself and I find it fascinating watching them slowly and patiently transform. Waiting to apply the eyeliner until a smooth portion of the track. And then occasionally seeing them accidentally shoot lipstick across their face.
(Acton Town = to be avoided, trust me.)

Then there are the couples. Its funny how when you are single, every single damn journey involves sitting opposite a loved-up couple trying to consume each other. You just want to yell “Thanks a bunch guys, I’m going to die alone. Get a room!”
Then of course when you’re with someone, it seems like the most natural thing in the world to try to eat their face in public.

But for me, the most invaluable and utterly reliable thing about the Transport for London system… is its unreliability.
You can have complete faith in it to fall apart somewhere, every single day. And for that perfect reason, even you are late for something and it’s entirely your own fault, you can just roll your eyes and say “Oh My God, the Central Line…just…Ugh”.
And everyone will believe you.

Frothy Mocha x

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Trusting? Bonkers? Both?

I often muse to myself, when I'm standing outside an improbable location or picking my way through dark streets looking for an address, that I must be either very trusting or completely bonkers.

For example, I got a small bit-part job on a low budget film. Couple of hours work, nice bit of showreel material.
Their previous actress had to drop out at the last minute so they had no time to audition, the bubbly production assistant said on the phone, just pop along to location for 8pm tomorrow and we will meet you there. Sweet.

Off I trot, map in hand to the address in North London. A good ten minute walk from the nearest tube and the further I progress down the street, the more apparent it becomes to me that I am alone, walking down an unfamiliar London street, in the dark on a Friday night. Late night takeaways and mini cab offices as far as the eye can see. Even the drinking population has thinned out once I reach the location which would appear to be a flat above a kebab shop.
Of course there is nothing to indicate that it might be a location for a film shoot. Not a soul in sight. 
8.00pm strikes and I start to ring the production assistant, whose phone rings out.
At 8.15pm I’m starting to wish I had told someone where I was going.
At 8.20pm, Production Assistant calls to say they are “soooo sorry, they are on route from another location and they’ll be there soon”.
At 8.30pm a van rolls up and two large men start hefting what looks reassuringly like filming gear out. They come up to the doorway where I have been cowering and trying to look like the wall and I decide to ask them if they are with the film. They open up the flat and send me upstairs to wait and as I start gingerly picking my way up 8 flights of cold concrete stairwell that smells a little too much like wee, I think to myself..
“I must be mad. I could get murdered here and no one would ever know.”

Of course by 8.45pm the rest of the crew roll up, tired and hungry and indulge in a Chinese before starting my scenes.  But all in all I was still all done, costume, make-up, read through, shooting, re-shooting, pickups, by 10.30pm.

It’s a miracle frankly that more people haven’t realised the ridiculous risks we run in the pursuit of work. How trusting we are that people are genuine. Americano with Soy is always calling me outside auditions and shoots going “What do I do there’s no one here…”  “I’m bored waiting, how are you…oh wait there they are, bye!”
It’s always nice though when you see someone else in the same place, with a mobile and an Equity diary obviously thinking the same thing you are.

I thought it again a few days ago when I was looking for a random basement flat where I was supposed to rehearse. As I picked my way down the dark street I thought…
“Trusting? Bonkers? Both?”
Jury’s still out on that one.

 Frothy Mocha x

Monday, 7 June 2010

Give Me Something To Work With!

To the people at Blah Blah productions,

I would like to apply for the role of blah blah. The premise of blah blah is really intriguing and I would love the chance to be a part of it. I believe I would bring a good energy to the role blah blah blah blah blllaaaaaaaaahhhhh....

In case you couldn't tell, covering letters annoy me slightly. Not all of them. Some casting breakdowns will give you loads of information about the production and the character so you can pick out certain points and relate them to yourself and your past professional/life experiences. Maybe even drop in an amusing anecdote if it's appropriate and sit back feeling very smug and pleased with yourself.

I'm talking more about the ones who are looking for "actor any gender any age any ethnicity I don't really care as long as you are a human person and even then I'm not fussy and then when you make the effort to come in for the audition I will decide that you are not what I was looking for and reject you and wonder to myself why you even bothered to apply because I clearly have no idea what I'm doing." You know the ones.

What, pray tell, are we supposed to write in these instances? How are we supposed to make ourselves stand out? What can we use to show them that we are perfect for the role? Nothing, that's what. So it's over to old copy & paste to fill the box with a generic message that will no doubt prompt our good friend "Application Not Taken Forward" to rear it's ugly head.

So, to the people that put no effort into their casting breakdowns and expect maximum effort from us in return... damn you I say. Damn you.

Americano With Soy

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Who Designed the Toilet Cubicle Anyway?

A question I have asked myself many times when I have found myself wedged up against the wall, one foot on the bowl, surrounded by bags, trying to squeeze into a pair of tights.

Toilet cubicles, railway platforms and, when you’re feeling flush, coffee shops have long been the place for a busy actor to regroup between appointments.

Many a time have I bolted down my lunch on a tube platform. Changed shoes and done hair and make up on a train. My fetish for being ridiculously early for everything has meant I have loitered like a permanent ghostly presence in many a Pret a Manger.  And regularly had a complete costume change in a public convenience.

Particularly good are the times when you are performing in a venue with little or no backstage space.  I did a show once in a small community centre which provided a 6ft by 5ft cupboard as wardrobe and make up for 6 actors including 3 large men. Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms about changing in front of other people, but some things a lady really needs to attend to in private. So I would trot off to the freezing dimly lit ladies room to find myself doing a masterclass in advanced gymnastics trying to squeeze into my epic suck-it-all-in pants.

If I had my way, toilet cubicles would be considerably bigger. With shelves, hanging space and a stock of essentials. Perhaps actors should form a pact, much like Arctic explorers do when they use those huts in the middle of nowhere, of keeping the fire laid and the matches out for the next poor frost-bitten soul.

Whoever changes in the cubicle last leaves out tissues, hair grips and some Echinacea.

Frothy Mocha x

Saturday, 24 April 2010

It’ll Be The Shirt Off My Back Next

This is a story of what friends do for each other, when friends are actors. In no other world is this likely to happen.

I was rudely awoken this morning by the clamour of my mobile ringing.  It was my flatmate who is currently filming a student TV drama at his drama school with a big Director. I thought I would answer it as he knows I work into the night and am usually asleep at 10am so surely it must be important.

The conversation went thus:

Him: “You know how much you love me?”
Me: “What do you want..”
Him “Can I borrow your duvet and pillows”
Me: “What? Whats wrong with yours?”
Him: “Director doesn’t think they are suitable for the shot, he wants different ones. Oh and can you bring it to the set.”
Me: “Oh God, well I’ll have to change the linen. Let me know when you need it for.”
Him: “Er….now.”
Me: “Fuck Off”

In what possible other world, would someone risk their lives by taking the duvet and pillows from a sleeping woman who works nights and could have got another 2 hours sleep before going to work again.

I totally get the whole “do what you have to do to get the show on”. I work hard, never take sickies and I’m never late. 

But what’s next? Has it got to the stage when we are so scared of the wrath of the “Director” that we’d kick a nun over in the street just to please them?

Luckily for my flatmate, I know the Director and just how intimidating he can be. So I compromised with some of my sets of linen which he is under strict instructions to wash.

And I told him to tell the Director if he wants any of my knickers or the shirt off my back, he can come and get them himself.

Somehow I think he might not pass that along.

Frothy Mocha x

Friday, 23 April 2010

If Anyone Finds a Mojo, It’s Mine

I woke up today 2 hours later than planned and started my day as usual by making my weapons-grade strength flagon of Tesco Value coffee.
I put the hot water and milk in and then I stared at it for fully 20 seconds before realising what was missing.
Such is the level of my brain function this week. I’m assuming its not early onset dementia. I’m a little older than the other Fork-Girls but I’m not that old, thank you.

I seem to have slipped without realising into one of the slumps. Those abysses of nothing-ness I’m sure everyone recognises, when you don’t have any auditions or any little jobs on the horizon. And the fear that nothing will ever turn up again.

It’s not as if I haven’t been there before.  My fellow graduates, and I’m sure all of you, will all have been through that terrible void that no one quite prepares you for when you leave the safe cocoon of Drama School and find you really are on your own and no one wants to hire you.

Then suddenly you get one little job, you’re reminded why you live like you do and finally you have something to say when faced with the dreaded question.. “So what have you been doing lately?”

It’s amazing, though, how quickly you forget how that feels.  You work your day job, which in my case is a night job in a bar. You start to get seduced by that feeling of cool green money between your fingers and food in your fridge. So you work more and more nights and before you know it you’re sleeping through the day and staring at a mug wondering why it looks odd.

It’s so easy to slip into self-indulgence and self-pity. I’m certainly not the only one. Every actor has it, it's part of the job. So how do you get out?

Frothy Mocha x