I had marked out several weeks on my calendar for finishing a writing project. That project remains unfinished. Instead, I spent time in front of a camera filming – mostly auditions for various roles.

Back in November, an acting teacher from the past invited me to an agency showcase out in Atlanta. To my surprise, one of the agents contacted me and asked for a mock audition which meant filming two different roles within three different scenes and getting that audition sent in within a  36-hour period. With some help from the teacher who has done much to show me the ropes of the film industry, I managed to complete the audition with 40 minutes to spare before deadline. Two hours later, the agency requested a meeting to discuss representation.

Interesting and exciting stuff for a retired man whose acting credits are mostly stage-work.

In January, I began this new “hobby.” I hoped for a few auditions, something now and then to break up the monotony of retirement and the seclusion of a writing life. I picked up a few early auditions in January, the type that had my wife and me pumped with adrenaline.

For one regional commercial, I was told to hold the dates, ‘You have the right of first refusal,” said the note.

“What does that mean?” I asked the agent.

“It means you probably have the role.”

Nice, because they were going to pay a nice little chunk of money.

The next day I got another email saying, “You have been released from the right of first refusal.”’

“What does that mean?” I asked the agent.

“To be blunt,” said the agent. “They hired someone else.”

Said my wife, “I don’t know if I can take all these ups and downs.”

In the past few weeks, I’ve had plenty of ups and down. The first week of March I traveled to Atlanta to tape auditions for four different roles. As I arrived at that taping I had yet another request to audition for a recurring role in a television show. After taping the four scenes, I drove hope to memorize five pages of dialogue. We taped that one the next day.

I sent in the audition tapes and the required files that were “Absolutely necessary or you won’t be considered,” and now await, hoping to hear the only words you will ever hear back from the casting director or your agent, “You have the right of first refusal.” Or “You’re hired.”

After more than a dozen auditions, I haven’t heard those words yet, at least not for any movies or television shows. I did land something of a preferred background role for a commercial. I received word of where to report in Atlanta a little before 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night. Call time was 6:30 the next morning. We shot a commercial all day in “spring wardrobe.” All scenes were outside scenes as we enjoyed picnic and restaurant scenes in shirt sleeves, without jackets. The high temperature on that day was 36 degrees with a “real feel” of 27. The toughest thing about that day was trying to act warm as you sat for takes nine, ten and eleven. “Alright,” says the director standing in the winter coat. “Reload. No chattering.”

He wasn’t referring to any unwanted talking. He was talking about our teeth.

We finished up at 6:30 p.m. The next afternoon, I returned to Atlanta for a live audition for another commercial shoot. I walked into a room filled with actors who looked a lot like me – a Granpa types. My audition consisted of playing Legos with a sweet and talented 10-year-old girl who had traveled all the way from Alabama for a chance at the role. I hope she got the words, “You’re hired.”

The one thing I have learned about the process. During my working years, I would never have had the temperament to make a living as an actor. The highs, the lows, the lulls, the frenetic activity, the hopes, the disappointments. It’s a tough life, psychologically, for those who choose to pursue it.

For someone like me, well, it gives me something to write about.

G. Richard Hoard grew up in Jefferson. He is the author of The Race Before Us and other books. You may contact him at grhoard@gmail.com.

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