I Just Play One on TV

by martha on January 4, 2011

Me - An ACTOR! - in 2000

A funny thing happened today.  I officially got the job!

It’s a small one.  Just 8 hours next week. They selected me based merely on the 10-year-old headshot above. (Though, to be fair, perhaps my many classes in improv and the kind words of the local agency I’ve been with for 15 years played a role.)

What you probably don’t know is that I “act.”  It’s very small-fish-little-pond stuff.  Nothing to brag about and certainly nothing that impresses people who ask (each and every time it comes up), “Oh!! What have you been in? Anything I may have seen?”

I get to do the occasional regional TV commercial.  I once scared myself silly playing a zombie in a straight-to-DVD horror movie. And, because I live outside of Washington DC, I get my fair share of voice and on-camera work for government and corporate training resources, especially e-learning programs.

It’s all fun, though it’s also very sporadic and merely occasional. This is no way to make a living, believe you me.

As time goes by, in fact, I lean more toward voice acting, because the camera does NOT get kinder over time.  Somehow, as I’ve aged the camera’s oft-referenced extra 10 pounds seem to be concentrated around my face and under my chin.  How does it do that?

Anyway, back to the job that was officially bestowed upon me today.

What I am finding so interesting is that, coincidentally, the gig falls into my non-acting area of expertise.  The casting agency knew nothing about the rest of my life.  They don’t know I’m a writer. (Oh!! What have you written? Anything I may have read?) They didn’t know that I’m a sales trainer.  And, they certainly had never reviewed my regular-life resume.

Yet, by chance, I’ve been recommended by them and now hired (at pretty darn close to my usual on-site training day rate!) to…

wait for it…

Emcee and run a full-day team-building and new-product workshop for a company’s sales force.

I’m not kidding.

It’s all microphones and ad-libbing.  Group-wrangling and activity-leading.  Connecting and responding. Totally workshoppy and classroom-style.

And, it’s something I’ve done many times before and that I am sometimes hired to do based on my experience and my brain, rather than my face. (My young, 30-year-old face, at that!)

The casting agent and I had a good laugh when I forwarded her my LinkedIn profile, after I’d already been chosen. She also requested I send over a current photo so they could confirm that I didn’t look too “old” now.  But, another trainer I laughed with about it also lamented that when a Fortune 100 company was looking for someone to facilitate this training event in the nation’s capital, they turned first to…ACTORS!

Grateful for the gig and the paycheck. Looking forward to it. Know it will be a hoot and one of those days when I look to the heavens and say a little prayer of thanks that I get to do all this as my job.

But, I also still see my colleague’s point: the story is a little bit sad for the training profession.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Fran January 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Good luck! You look young in your newer photo, anyway

martha January 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Many kisses to you, Fran. That’s exactly what an aging diva wants to hear! 😉

A Sullenger January 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Yahoo!!! Great job – such exciting news!!

Karen Clark January 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Wow how FUN!! You will do great! Such an exciting life you live! Have a ball with it!

martha January 4, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Sometimes it is exciting. Other times, it’s just the *illusion* of exciting. But, at all times, it’s interesting. Thanks Karen!

Cindy January 5, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I participated in a Direct Sales Regional Conference (as a Consultant and Team Leader) a few years ago. The Emcee was SO BAD, it was palpable… I was embarrassed for her, and there was plenty of mummer about her ineptitude.

It had not occured to me — until now — that she was a paid actress… paid to read the lines. YOU will do fabulous, because you will understand the lines which were written to be read by someone who has no idea.

This woman (who, it turned out was recently hired BY the actual company) read the lines in a manner that showed she did not understand them at all. She broke at the wrong time… she emphasized the wrong words… she mis-pronounced things.

In encountered her about 9 months later in her actual hired-on role, and she was fantastic. Apparently.. they’d tossed her to the wolves as an emcee — as a trained actress AND experienced sales person, you will be FANTABULOUS!
(Thus, I suggest — find a photo from 8 years ago and send that! OR, as someone else pointed out… your photo in the header here certainly could not be turned down!

martha January 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Thank you, Cindy. I’ve also been tossed to the wolves and reading about that poor lady’s experience made my heart hurt for her. Combine the new job jitters and the common fear of “public speaking” (or making a fool of yourself in front of an audience, which is the real fear for many of us) and that must have been a terrible experience for her. So glad to hear that she recovered and that you got to see how fantastic she really was!

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