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For Part 1, click here: http://wp.me/pFrOn-ao

It’s Wednesday. 5:00pm. I am sitting in a waiting room with a handful of actors. This is the second callback for the commercial we are all vying for. There are eight of us in the room. They will choose two for the commercial. Four dogs, one bone. Let the games begin.

I am paired with a guy who looks about 10 years older than me.  I ask him if he wants to run lines together while we wait. He says no. We are teammates. But we are also competing against each other. Its awkward.

Our names are called. The client is in another room watching us on a TV feed. We run the scene once. Its stiff. We run it again, its loosening up. We run it again, its good. We switch roles and run it 3 more times and it feels great. The director is laughing. I am smiling as we step out of the casting room.

They have asked us all to stay in the waiting room so they can see some alternate pairings. What started as an audition for 80+ actors was cut down to a callback for twenty. Now there are only eight.

And then, the moment. A door opens and one of the women from casting comes out holding a piece of paper. “Anthony, are you here?” My heart races.

“Yes.” I reply.

“OK, you can go home. Sorry about that. You were great. It has nothing to do with you honey.” She smiles and I know her words are sincere. And then there were seven…

I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt. It does. But there is a scripture that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Who knows? Maybe the casting director will remember me and bring me in for something even better. Here’s to being an optimist ;o)

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It’s Monday. 2:30pm. I am sitting in a waiting room for an audition, hoping to land a role in a television commercial. It’s about 2 guys on a lunch break and the dialogue is quick, witty and fun to play. That is, if you are given the right scene partner. I am paired with an actor from The Second City who is absolutely brilliant. Happy day. We step into the audition room, stand on our marks, and then we play. And man did we play. We had the casting director laughing out loud. I walk out of the audition room with a smile that will linger at the corner of my mouth for hours. I am told that callbacks are happening on Wednesday. That means they will be making calls tomorrow. Nice. Here’s hoping for a call from my agent first thing Tuesday morning.

It’s Tuesday. 6:00pm. My agent hasn’t called. I am still holding out hope. My phone vibrates. I see my agent’s name. I tentatively press the ‘accept’ button and say “Hello?” as if I don’t know who’s calling. My agent tells me I have a callback on Wednesday at 2:35pm. Nice! The lingering smile returns…

It’s Wednesday. 3:10pm. I sit in a cramped audition room alongside 12 other actors with more arriving every other minute. We are told that there will be another callback today at 5:00pm for those of us they want to see again. My scene partner from Second City is here… maybe we’ll be paired together again. Not so. I go into the audition room with another actor that I just don’t vibe with. We do the scene and it is flat. There are no flashes of brilliance. No chemistry. And no laughs from the director. He thanks us. I leave. So does my lingering smile.

I walk down the stairs and into my car. Rejection is a part of the business and I have learned not to take it personally. Just as I am about to turn on the car, my phone rings. It’s my agent. I have a callback at 5:10pm. I will never understand this business.

It’s Wednesday. 4:40pm. I sit in a coffee shop writing a blog so I won’t think about what is going to happen in half an hour. I turn off my computer and prepare to head back to the audition…

I hope this story has a happy ending…

For part 2 click here: http://wp.me/pFrOn-aL

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Be in the Moment

I met with a Pastor friend for Coffee recently. We had an awesome conversation. At one point he said:

“The most important person in the world is the one in front of you.”

And please note that I, Anthony McLean, was the person in front of him when he said that.

He went on to say, “When I am sitting here with you, I am not thinking about where else I have to be and what else I have to do. I am fully here. Go through life thinking about what’s next and you’ll miss the significance of the moment in front of you.”

That hit me. I told him that I live my whole life wondering what’s next. I feel like I am on the verge of a breakthrough in my career. But instead of focusing on each project and person in front of me, I tend to wonder “How can this help me get to that next place?”

He nodded like a Doctor who knew this symptom all too well. With a smile he said, “I think you need to stop and smell the roses. It’s not like there are more important people somewhere else. The people in your life right now are the most important people in the world. Enjoy them. And enjoy your projects too. If you see your current projects as merely rungs in the ladder of success… you won’t really put your heart into your work.”

I thought of every acting coach I ever had who said, “Be in the moment. You have to be in the moment or you will miss the magic.”

You know those times when what you are learning in your spiritual life intersects perfectly with what you are learning in your career?

Walking with God is the adventure of a lifetime. It is like having an invisible friend who sets up all these cool “aha” moments for you to discover.

Be in the moment. Aha.

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I didn’t get the part. It is Saturday. The Sabbath day. Time to let it rest. It has been 5 days… it is dead. There will be no funeral but I will wear black for the next week. I searched istockphoto for the saddest picture I could find. This is me. A broken man. If by chance you are a Casting Director or a Hollywood Producer… call me. One phone call can change an actor’s life.

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The worst part of being an actor is waiting to hear whether or not you got a part. It is agonizing. I had a big audition today and- gulp- I think it went well. Now I am trying not to think about it which is what they tell us we should do. I don’t get it. You have to want a part badly enough to spend hours rehearsing for a 30 second audition. But then you have to be detached enough so that if you don’t get the part, you won’t wallow in a pool of self-deprecating pity. I haven’t figured out how to walk that line…

What makes this even worse is that if you don’t get the part it’s not like you get a phone call letting you know that you didn’t get it. You just don’t hear anything. And sometimes you are still waiting a week later… 2 weeks later. There’s no closure. It’s like being in a relationship with someone when you’re not sure of the status of the relationship.  People ask you how that special someone is and you aren’t even sure if they are that special someone. You’re up in the air like George Clooney. It’s awful.

Please pity me. And please don’t ask me if I got the part. Unless I look really really happy. Then you can ask 😀

On second thought… even then. Don’t ask.

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I have a big audition coming up this Monday. I am not going to tell you what it is for because I don’t want to jinx anything. I really want to nail this audition so I am setting some goals for myself…

I heard a teaching once about blockable goals. That’s when you set a goal for yourself when you are not in control of the outcome. Blockable goals lead to anger and frustration. “My goal is to get this role” is a decent rhyme but a blockable goal. And it has led to plenty of frustration for me in auditions past! So the goals I have set for Monday are:

– I want to arrive at the audition 60 minutes early
– I want to know my lines inside and out
– I want to be the most prepared actor at that audition

That last one might not be a perfect goal but it does inspire me to practice like crazy so it works.

If I get the role I will let you know. If I don’t get the role, forget that you ever read this. Except maybe for the part about blockable goals… that stuff really works.

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I am not really in a place to give advice to other actors. Its not like I’m this hotshot or anything. But if you are an actor or if you are thinking about becoming an actor, might I give you just one word of advice?

NEVER TELL ANYONE WHEN YOU HAVE AN AUDITION.

Why? Because if you don’t get the part it is very annoying explaining yourself to people. Trust me. I never tell anyone when I have an audition. Except, of course, for my wife. And sometimes my very closest friends and family. And if I am bursting with excitement I’ll tell a random stranger. And there is a lady at the bank that sort of keeps up with my career so I always tell her. And I may have mentioned an audition or two here on this blog… but other than that I never tell a soul.

That being said, I had an audition this past Friday that I’m really excited about. It was for a recurring role on a pretty big TV show. If I told you the name you’d probably know it. But I’m not going to tell you the name because then you’d keep asking me about it and if I don’t get the part it will really annoy me. Now stop interrupting me and let me tell you about the audition.

There is nothing worse than auditioning with a bad reader. You don’t want a reader to overpower you. And you don’t want a reader that is totally flat. Somewhere in the middle there is a perfect combination and the guy I read with had it. We took one pass at it and I was playing the role quite aggressively. The casting director asked me to do another take, this time with more compassion. I dropped my initial approach, did the scene with more compassion and it felt great. And part of the script was a monologue! I had so much fun. I can’t remember the last time I got to do a monologue in a Film and TV audition.

But then the strangest thing happened. I finished the scene and the casting director said nothing. She just asked me about a mutual friend we have. “How is so and so?” she said. What!? “How is so and so?” We chatted for a moment and then she thanked me and I left. I was kind of shaken up. I got my things and left the room and got into my car. Then I fell into a serious bout of PAD (Post-Audition Depression) on the drive home. I was still coming out of the character, so I already had more aggression than I usually do, and I just got really down. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t have said anything about the audition.

I got home and brought my rain cloud with me. Susie tried to cheer me up. Nothing worked. It took about two days for me to shake it.

So, today my agent calls me. “I have feedback for you from your audition.” I froze in place. “The casting director said you did a wonderful job. She was very impressed. The producer has decided to go with someone else for this role but they will bring you back throughout the season to audition for other roles. Good job Anthony.” If you are not an actor you probably don’t know this: casting directors never call your agent after an audition unless you got the part. So this phone call was a very good thing. I wanted to laugh out loud. She liked it. I wasted two days sulking when she liked it. I am such a moron.

Just so you know, I probably won’t tell you if I get another audition for the show. I never tell anyone about my auditions.

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