Last week I had an audition for a pregnancy test commercial. Initially I was about as thrilled as I would have been had I found out that another human being was swimming around in all the beer and anxiety in my gut. But, as I was signing in, a lady asked if I had an up-to-date passport because the shoot was in Prague. Game changer. I was excited, these overseas jobs are very rare and if I have to become the face of vaginal yeast infection in a country to get a free holiday there, so be it. I’m ambitious like that (excluding parts of the Middle East where they might cut my head off).
The audition is simple. I have to sit at a table with my “best friend” and tell her I’m two weeks pregnant, then we both have to scream, sigh, laugh and be happy. Basically the opposite of what would happen if I told my boyfriend.
Two days later I get a callback, which is weird. More times than not I say, “Really?” out loud when I get a callback email. If people still talked to each other on the phone, I’d probably lose 50 percent of the jobs I’d just managed to book. “Hey, Melissa, you got the job!” “Oh sure I did” – click – “Melissa? Hello?”
Anyway, I want to go to Prague, so I decide I’m going to make it impossible for them not to pick me. I even brush my hair and dress like a normal person, which is a big deal for me. When I get to the audition, I’m paired with an extremely outgoing blonde named Amanda. She is wearing a very revealing dress. In hindsight, it was a pretty savvy choice: you could practically see her lactiferous ducts through it.
“Want to practice our lines?” she gasps. I guess I must have nodded. “Okay, awesome! You be the pregnant friend first!” she squeals. “Yay for me!” I say. Oh wait no, of course I don’t say that.
So I sit next her and start: “I have something to tell you. Umm, well, I’m pregnant! Two weeks!” Amanda stares at me, which makes me really self-conscious, and then screams, “I can’t believe it! I’m so happy for you!” Then she hugs me, which FYI, was not in the script. Why don’t you keep your hands to yourself Amanda? It’s flu season, for fuck’s sake.
After 30 minutes of saying the same lines over and over, it’s finally our turn. We walk into the studio and stand on the blue Xs taped to the floor. A woman is operating the camera and the director is sitting on a couch. “We’re going to slate you first, OK?” I nod. “Hi, what’s your name?” she says, pointing the camera at me. “Hi. I’m Melissa Stetten,” I purr, and then smile like the glorious, fresh-faced pregnant woman that I am. She does the same for Amanda, who thrusts her nipples in a different direction for each syllable of her name. Fuck, I hate Amanda, she’s such a bitch.
The two lines we actually have to say, and that we’ve been saying repeatedly for the last half hour, are written on a board in front of us, in case our brains are the sizes of peas and we can’t remember a simple sentence. I look at the board at least four times.
“Action,” the camera woman calls. “Well, there’s something I should tell you – I’m pregnant! Two weeks!” I say, in my mature mid-twenties woman voice. Amanda squeals again, even louder, “That’s so wonderful! I’m so happy!” and we smile adorably at each other. “Thanks, that was great,” the woman mutters, gesturing towards the exit. Amanda and I get up, grab our purses and leave. “Well that was shit,” I say to myself as I’m walking out the front door. Oh well, no Prague for me.
I’m halfway round the block, considering shoplifting at Whole Foods salad bar, when I hear my name called. “Melissa!” I turn around, the camera woman’s standing outside the studio. “Could you come back? The director wants you to read again with a different girl.” Ha! Suck my eggs Amanda, they want me. I walk back in and I’m paired with another girl. I say the lines about ten more times and feel much more confident about my performance. They both thank me and I leave.
That Friday I get a call from my agent: “Melissa you’re on avail for the pregnancy test commercial. I’ll keep you posted.” Holy shit I could be going to Prague! The last time I was put on avail I booked the job, I pull my suitcase out and begin unpacking the larder foods I’ve started storing in there (my apartment’s tiny, fuck you). Saturday night I get a call from the casting director: I’m on a “very short shortlist” and they’ll let me know for sure Monday morning. The flight leaves Monday evening. You might not believe me, but that’s actually a pretty long time in the fashion industry. That’s like, longer than Rodarte were considered cool this season.
I wake up Monday morning with a head full of wine. At 10AM my manager texts me, “Still w8n, wil let u kno!” At 2PM, he calls, but I can’t take it because I’m at another audition pretending to be a slutty girl hitting on a nerd for a beer commercial. Fuck you, timing. After a monstrosity of a performance I listen to my voicemail. “Hey Melissa, it’s Lindsay, they called and decided to go with someone else. But they wanted you to know that they thought you were wonderful and to thank you for being so patient.” Ugh.
Getting those calls is the worst part of being in this business. One minute you think you’re getting a job that would hold you over financially for a few months, the next minute you’re just another slutty girl coming on to a nerd for some beer. I texted my boyfriend to tell him the bad news. He replies: “Oh well, at least we can hang out and have sex this week.”
He’s got a point, you know.