The Stage Mom - Part 2
It's been several days since the fateful casting call. I had to give it some time to let it sink in, but now that I've had time to reflect, I'm ready to share the cold hearted truth of what should have been an Arnold Diaz "Shame on You" segment.
While we left our house an hour and a half in advance, we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic heading into New Jersey. And as we inched our way closer to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, I was convinced this was going to turn out to be a fiasco and guess what? I was right.
As soon as we arrived, we had to sign several release forms - which I glanced at quickly but I figured it probably indemnifies them from any liability from parents like me who realize they're being scammed. And then after they handed us a glossy brochure with the faces of all these famous kids who have endorsed their program, we were led inside a massive room with hundreds of kids anxiously awaiting their big moment with the casting director.
The first guy who came out to welcome us was nice enough - told us all about the opportunities they were offering that day - the chance to meet a casting director who looks for talent for lots of TV shows and commercials (incidentally, the original casting director who was supposed to show up for the audition bailed) and he then introduced the person I'd like to call Cruella de Ville. Supposedly, Cruella was a former petite model turned international casting agent who has discovered thousands of kids and put them on the fast track to stardom or at least that's what she's convinced herself.
In a thick indistinguishable accent (couldn't tell if it was French or Russian), Cruella said, "Remember the movie Cheaper by the Dozen?" Like puppy dogs we nodded and smiled thinking she discovered Hillary Duff. But then she added, "Remember the kid who hung upside down and made jokes? I discovered him."
Cruella then rattled off a few more movies and cancelled television shows and each time she mentioned a name, I had no idea who she was talking about. "Remember the kid on the Welches grape juice commercial? Well, I didn't discover her, but I did discover the boy who did the Del Monte peas commercial." I then conjured up some more people she could have not discovered.
"Remember the little girl in Chronicles of Narnia? Well, I didn't discover her either but when I saw that movie, I thought to myself, Wow, she's got talent."
Then Cruella got downright nasty. "If I look at you, I can immediately tell if you've got it or you don't. So if you're not really good looking, you probably are not going to get through." She then added that the industry is filled with rejection and they're going to face a lot of heartache before they succeed. And then, she launched into the pitch.
Cruella talked about how plumbers, electricians and doctors get training for their careers and actors and models need training too. Segue into the fabulous workshops this company offers for child actors. And here's where it got a bit shady. After you auditioned, your parent had to call them back within two days and if they accepted you, you had to decide right there on the spot whether or not you were going to enroll your child in their workshop program - with prices starting at over $1900!!!!
We still decided to go through the process and obediently nodded our heads that we would gladly pay the money if they thought our child had potential. Then she did a cold read for a commercial and within seconds, we were sent on our merry way.
And then I waited two days to call them. Not because I wanted to enroll my daughter in the program, but because I was curious to find out if they'd take her. Once I got through and gave them my child's name, they actually told me she didn't make the cut. I was a bit stunned just because I thought they'd offer the gig to anyone as long as they were willing to give them their cash or credit card number, but then realized they have to act like they're somewhat selective so that they get people coming back for more.
That very afternoon, I even received a postcard in the mail from the same place featuring logos from Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and iCarly - informing us there were more auditions in our area. But this time, I'm not falling for this casting call bait and switch operation. If my daughter wants to become an actress, she'll do it the old fashioned way. Hasn't anyone ever heard of school play? You gotta start small before you fork over $2000 bucks to people who promise you the world and deliver a can of Del Monte peas.