The Post-Undergraduate Actor, Part 1: Reality Check

The end of college is a new beginning—for most people.  On my part, it was the continuation of agreements I made with my family.  I am the first of my father’s sons to graduate, which carries a bit of pride.  (My father had a lot of hope riding on me since I was the last of his children.)

It is time to give back for all I have received.

During my tenure at Akron, I was established among a large group of connections, contacts and companions. Now, I live in Florida, Titusville to be exact– right next to Cape Kennedy. The game is much different. The economy, after cutting a few thousand jobs since the shuttle program ended, became further dilapidated.  Moving here, I hoped to find any job– Target, GameStop…NASA. I wanted to do that while working on performances.  The latter has gone well, the former has not.

It is October; I am still unemployed and receiving an allowance.  (At 23, an allowance is a blow to the ego.)

On the up and up, I am rehearsing Chicago, my third show with the Titusville Playhouse.  Our very successful run of The Graduate showed me the opportunities that can come if you are able to do tasks as simple as “follow directions.”  For example, showing up at rehearsal every night when another cast member (with a bigger part) fails to appear.

Photo from the Titusville Playhouse's production of "The Graduate"

The shows have been a great boost to my career, if for nothing else but to keep me busy enough to avoid cabin fever or living the life of Benjamin Braddock (minus the sex). However, I know if I keep moving, I will find something. Success is worth working towards.

I would like to take a moment to talk about the importance of professionalism.

A good friend of mine was working at Disney and I wanted to do something similar. However, no positions were open.  Instead, I tried out at Universal.

My hope was to secure some in-park job so I could stand on the tallest structure, write a note, fold it into an airplane and let it fly to the Disney parks where my friend would respond in a like-wise manner. (It would definitely save on cell phone minutes.)

The directions for the audition were listed on the audition information.  All participants were instructed to arrive “no more than” 30 minutes prior to the audition (it is possible to arrive too early) but not a single minute late and “come prepared to move” in gym clothing.  I showed up wearing the type of clothes Jim Slowiak would require in one of his movement classes. After about 20 minutes the instructors handed out numbers to all 250 of us.

While standing in line talking to a few people, I noticed this absolutely stunning woman. She was wearing a tight black skirt, make-up that enhanced her features perfectly and a subtle amount of glitter on her cheeks, neck, and cleavage– accented perfectly with a large necklace and earrings. Her attire was complimented by a pair of expensive high-heels. She was amazing.

Except for one thing.

She was dressed in a restrictive black skirt, make-up that would smear as she moved, loose-fitting jewelry and high-fucking-heeled shoes. “What the hell is she doing?” I wondered. “Or does she know something I don’t?”  I soon got my answers.

We entered a room where the 250 auditionees were broken into groups of 50.  From there, the groups proceeded to the first round.  Each person in the group would get a hello and greeting from the people running the audition.  The person would state their name, where they were from and something about themselves. I went 3rd and thought they received me as “polite and on target” with the instructions. Then the woman, who we will call “Melisa” for the remainder of the story, came forward with a strut, thrust her right hip towards and declared in a confident voice: “MY NAME IS MELISA AND I AM THE GREATEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO ORLANDO.”

She didn’t make the first cut.

The first cut happened at 7:30 pm.  I was eventually thanked and cut– around 1:30 am (and that was only after there were less than 40 people left.)

Sure, both Melisa– the greatest thing to happen to Orlando- and I didn’t make it. But even though I was a wrong fit due to my body frame and height, I got as far as my skills could take me. Actors and actresses have enough trouble landing a role because of competition or appearance. So please, for your own sake, put effort into the things over which you have control.

Like following directions.

-Christopher Laney
Guest Essayist



  1. Great essay, Chris! I hope a lot of your classmates read it.


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