So, y'all know I'm an actor. I take great pride in being one and have doing it for a while.
I first knew I wanted to be an actor when a family friend invited me to have a small part in a show she was doing for her company, The Living Museum Company. I was 13, and I had a chance to be amongst older black male actors portraying folks from history. Not only did I get to be an actor, I also worked with professionals who looked like me, who could tell me things about history I didn't know.
It was a wonderful start.
Fast forward to last Friday, everything came full circle and I was officially part of the resurrected Living Museum Company portraying Malcolm X. I freaked out a bit when my friend asked me to do it, because who am I to impart my knowledge about the honorable El Hajj Malik Shabazz? Of course, you have no idea how much you actually know about a subject until its put to the test. They asked me ALL KINDS of questions as Malcolm, from questions about jail life to ones about his siblings, and I successfully answered them all.
You try fitting the story of a legendary man into 8-10 minutes... then speak to 18 different groups of about 40-50 children. Insane.
So, now to contrast that rewarding/nostalgic/proud moment with going to this EPA today. For those of you who aren't actors, EPA stands for Equity Principal Auditions. They could either be viewed as your worst nightmare or as the golden gate of opportunity. The doors open at 10 AM, but some folks get there at 430 AM to solidify a spot, and even when you get there "early", sometimes there are so many people you don't get to audition. Its hot, its sweaty, its noisy because actors are going over lines, and there isn't enough space for anyone. Complete (organized) pandemonium.
Talk about things coming full circle, I managed to get a nifty little thing for participating in my first tour in a historical musical for kids about Harriet Tubman about 2 years ago. Black history (or rather the need to teach and spread it) has been good to me.
I've never used this card before. I don't actually know what the benefits of having it are, I just know the Union has some cool services, like healthcare. If you are resourceful, its cool to knock about and figure out what they do for actors. But don't ask me- I've been looking at this damn thing for 2 years and have no clue.
Except till today, when my shirt wasn't ironed enough, and my (non-existent) hair needed an extra meticulous brushing. "I'll be there at 10" turned into a cool "1030 is aight". 1030 IS NOT ALRIGHT. If you're an actor, you know very well that showing up to the super packed EPA 30 minutes after auditions start equals garbage. No.
So I get there, am directed to another building, and there's SWARMS of people.
Kids, adults, people my age, everyone. Let's not forget to mention no one there looks like me. 1 of maybe 5 black males. Being there made me recognize the passion that arises from wanting to do the thing we do so bad. It reminded me that I'm here for a reason, and I immediately was proud to be a part of a community that would show up for a play even when hundreds and thousands of others show up. The odds are crazy. That is the stuff of real passion, real faith, tenacity, drive, whatever you may call it.
I took out the pink card. The equity card. The lady put me on an "alternative" list. In my brain I was like: "I'm the 35th to be seen out of all these people even though I came at 1030?!" Not an alternative facts list.... a tried and true alternative, skip the line list.
Lawd. It was so hot in that room, I ran out of there when they called my name.
And just like that, my first pretty good audition for a Broadway show by going to an EPA.
I know the odds are sooooo small, but who knows? I'm glad I went.