Blacktress has just arrived at Get Cast Now Acting Workshops.  This week’s guest casting director Rick Peterson, on the other hand, has not.  But his reputation precedes him and it stinks up the place…

“He’s a snarky little asshole,” a workshop devotee cautions, while stapling her resume to the back of her headshot.

Twenty minutes later he barrels in, bitching about traffic.  Blacktress hands him her picture.  He studies it, then her, then the picture again.

“Ewww. You need new pictures. I hate this one.”

He turns to make an announcement to the class.

“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times.  Acting is more of a business than an art.  And the number one business rule is that your headshot must capture your essence.”

Blacktress is annoyed. I spent four hundred dollars on these pictures. If my essence wasn’t captured, my pocketbook certainly was.  So for now, these will have to do, Blacktress thinks.  Then she stops herself.  Oh God, what if my essence is cheap? She wonders.  But she covers her stank face with a smile and nods in a manner which implies new headshots are now at the top of her to-do list.

However, her next order of business is actually to find out…

“What the fuck is my essence?” Blacktress blares into the phone later that night.

Tykesha Norman is on the other end.  She wears her no-bullshit persona on her sleeve. Blacktress thinks she will tell her the truth.  Plus Tykesha is the person in LA who has known Blacktress the longest.  They grew up together in a place that shall remain nameless.  In Lost Angeles it doesn’t much matter where you come from, only where you’re going.

“Well, you’re kind of a bitch.” Tykesha says outright.

The shock of it inspires Blacktress to gape her mouth open wide and leave it there for several seconds.

“No I’m not.  I’m incredibly sensitive.”

“Name a bitch that isn’t.”

Touché, Blacktress thinks.

“Okay then thanks,” She mutters.

“Hey, I’m having a dinner party Friday.  You better be there.  And bring something.  Love you. Bye.”

On Friday night, Blacktress finds herself in Tykesha’s Leimert Park apartment with her essence still on her brain.  She holds court.

“I mean what the hell do casting people mean when they say, ‘your essence’?”

“They mean your type,” Clarence Daniels says as he dunks stacks of tortillas into a guacamole filled glass bowl, and sloppily shoves them into his mouth.

“Exactly.  They just want to know your type so that they can type cast you. Because they aren’t interested in actually growing an imagination.  But your type is not your essence.  What do they even know about essence?  I mean, who gave casting directors permission to be ethereal? ”

Clarence’s mouth is too full to respond.  Instead he wipes his fingers on his pants.

Gross, Blacktress thinks.

Later as the evening draws to a close, Blacktress and Tykesha are alone in the kitchen loading the dishwasher.

“You know Clarence booked a re-occurring on Truth and Justice,” Tykesha stage whispers.  “He’s playing a fancy lawyer.”

“What?  He talks with his mouth full.”

“I know.  I wouldn’t have pegged him for the type.”

“Maybe his essence is dignified.”  Blacktress says throwing around her hands with her sarcasm.

Clarence is heard belching in the other room.

“I don’t think so.” Tykesha says. “But a good actor can try on whatever essence they want.”

Blacktress gets a look in her eye which indicates she’s about to get passionate.

I’m a good actor. I’m…  You know what I am? At my core?  At the very core of me?

“Dramatic?” Tykesha says dryly.

“I’m an artist.  A lover.  A lover of art.  I am art.  No Love.  LOVE.  And art.  And Peace. ”


“Okay!”  Blacktress says triumphantly.

Tykesha pours Cascade into the dishwasher as an angel flies over the room and then…

“ Now, how do I get that shit on a headshot?”