Unseen Work (and a hint of Brent Spiner)

After an exciting couple of weeks singing incredible music with The Collegiate Chorale, The American Symphony Orchestra, and the Gregg Smith Singers, my fantastic manager (Kathy Olsen of Encompass Arts) sent me out on an audition for Redrum, the Investigation Discovery network show. As I sat in the office, waiting to act my part, my eyes fell upon a wall of old VHS actor demo reels. Being a Star Trek and theatre fan, I couldn't help but notice, in black magic marker, "Brent Spiner." How inspiring to share a casting room with the beginnings of such a great actor! 

Upon entering Casting Director Kevin Kuffa's office, I was greeted with warmth, fantastic direction, genuine encouragement, and some good casual stories that felt shared among friends. Leaving the office, I felt great about responding well to his input and what I saw as a great second take. I also had the opportunity to say hi to Philip Huffman, the casting director for Law and Order: SVU, with whom I would work in a workshop just a few days later. 

And yes, my class with Philip Huffman gave me just as much excitement and energy about this industry as did just doing my job in an audition in their office. Why? I just love working, doing my job. All of it. Because so much about singing and acting involves everything that happens before and behind the scenes. I have friends about whom other friends say, "She's so successful! She's always booking something or working somewhere." To me, those same friends express their frustration about feeling like their auditions aren't turning into enough real work, or like they're not making enough headway in their chosen field.

Working as a singer or actor means so much more than filming onset or getting dolled up in one of my fancy gowns to sing with an orchestra. It means learning my lines after a long day of rehearsal or even (gasp!) a "day job." It means researching indie filmmakers and opera companies and people with whom I want to work so that I can begin to form relationships with them online and in real life. Most importantly, it means working with incredible people who believe in me and doing my best to perform and audition at my highest ability to make their jobs easier too. 

Next time you watch a film or an opera, imagine all of the steps that went into finding the right people to fill those roles - not just the performer, but the agents, managers, casting directors, artistic administrators, artistic directors, directors, producers, composers, and so forth. I imagine that Brent Spiner himself would have scores of people to thank for every step along his career, along with many stories about the work he did behind the scenes for so many days that no one will ever see. I'm so grateful to be a working actor and singer, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

For more about casting directors and their role in film and television production, check out this roundtable interview by The Hollywood Reporter.