weekly column


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.”

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Photo by Miles Orion Feldsott

It is Saturday night and Blacktress is more than happy to spend it gabbing with her girlfriend Iyanla on the phone, while  playing Virtual Catch-up:  the ritual of perusing the Facebook pages of old friends from back home in lieu of ever actually calling them.

“Why would I ever call these people?   This is far more entertaining.” Blacktress says while scrolling through wedding photos of a girl she never much cared for in middle school.  “Terrible color scheme,” she notes.

“And they’re all married back home,” Iyanla bemoans.  “Every. Single. One.  By twenty- five.  And they all have two kids.  In LA we have two roommates, maybe. But home everyone’s got two goofy-ass kids.”

“I know, what’s up with that?”

“They grew up.”  “We moved to Never Never Land where everyone still has dreams.”

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It’s the middle of the week and Blacktress is downtown at The Edison.  Her friend and former roommate Terrence Clarke, is slumped over on the barstool next to her.  It’s happy hour, but Terrence isn’t smiling.  He has become romantically (meaning sexually) entangled with Hollywood heavyweight, Sasha Brown, a successful actress.   Sasha also happens to be, not so successfully married to Keyvon Brown, a Hollywood featherweight.

“It’s a sin,” Terry says earnestly between gulps of his Cabernet.   “It goes against all my beliefs.”

Most of the people Blacktress meets in LA have long abandoned their childhood religious beliefs, in favor of practicing something more exotic, like Buddhism, Spiritualism or Narcissism (that is if they aren’t Scientologists.)  But Terry remains joyfully devoted to his Christian faith; a faith that, up until now, has always guided him down a righteous path…  Even if that path veered around golden career opportunities.

“I won’t trade in my integrity for an IMBD credit,” Terrence once told Bilal Patrick, an independent filmmaker.  A few months back, Bilal was desperate to cast him in the highly offensive role, “Monster Thug” in his movie, Hood Niggaz: Da Untold Story.

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Photo by Matt O'Callaghan

Blacktress is meeting her friend Shante Shannon for dinner at The Village Idiot, a gastro-pub on Melrose.  For the first time in history, Blacktress is on time for a social outing.  Shante calls to say she is stuck in traffic coming from the west side, and is going to be late.  Go figure.

While Blacktress waits at the bar for her friend to arrive, she catches the eye of Brandon Henry, a thirty something in a button down and jeans.  She buys his line.  He buys her a Lemon drop martini.  They engage in casual flirtatious banter.

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Photo by Miles Feld

Blacktress is heading into the Intelligencia at Sunset Junction when she bumps into Seema Reddy, a brilliant actress she co-starred with in the 12 minute short: Bollyhood.  They hug and tell each other they look well.  Then Seema asks Blacktress the question all actors with agents in the valley feel the need to ask each other.

“So, are you getting out much?”

Blacktress plays up the co-star she booked last month on Angeltown but glosses over the fact that she hasn’t had a single theatrical audition in two and a half weeks.  Seema on the other hand lays her miserable truth right out there.

“I’m not getting out at all.  It’s so fucking discouraging.  There are so few parts for me.  And no good ones. ”

Her negativity catches like wildfire.  Blacktress is burned.

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Photo by Matt O'Callaghan for Blacktress World

Blacktress is meeting Nirvana, her flakey, hippie friend (everybody has one), at a house party in Koreatown.  Blacktress has circled the block about 10 times already looking for parking.  And this is her # 10 reason why LA is complete bullshit.  Looking for parking is all too often a nightmare, she thinks. But just before Blacktress is about to get pissy about having to make her 11th rotation, she remembers something…

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Call is 11am. Blacktress arrives on the set of Angeltown, a gritty crime drama, told from the POV of the cops, who protect the mean streets of LA. These cops seem to cover a territory that spans from south central to Santa Monica.  This is perplexing to Blacktress and other actual Angelinos.  But these are the kinds of details that don’t seem to bother the staff writers or viewers who live in other parts of the country.   Blacktress has won the coveted role of, “Angry Crip girl in the Landromat.”  She sits in the make-up chair next to Scott Oats, a devastatingly handsome and well known Blacktor.  She steals glances of him as often as possible making the make-up lady’s job more difficult.

“Up, up, up. Keep your eyes looking up.  ” Barb says for the third time as she attempts to coat her lashes.

Blacktress complies . But seconds later her eyes dart back over.  Barb huffs.

Blacktress makes note of Scott Oats’ stubby legs dangling off the side of his swivel chair.

He’s such a tiny little man, she thinks.  Aren’t objects supposed to appear larger up close?

“All the A-listers are midgets.  The A actually stands for apple box,”  Blacktress once overheard a woman telling her date in line for a Tom Cruise movie at the Grove.

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see more pics from this photo story on FLASH PAGE Photo by Matt O'Callaghan

Last week Blacktress and her friend Iyanla Howard went for a hike up Runyon Canyon.  Their legs made sluggish strides.  Their mouths moved a mile a minute.

“You have to be playing the character you’re auditioning for from the first minute the casting person sees you.  And you can’t break from it until you’re back in your car,”  Iyanla advised Blacktress while scraping dog shit off the bottom of her sneaker with a stick.

“But what if you’re playing a serial killer?  Shouldn’t you at least crack a smile on the way out, so that they know you’re not nuts?” Blacktress asked.

“I wouldn’t.  The more authentic the better.”

“Yeah, maybe even slice a couple people up, in the waiting room, too.  That would really win them over,”  Blacktress said, her tone sodden with sarcasm.

“See that’s too authentic.  You want to be Hollywood real. Not Cleveland real.”

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Photo by Matt O'Callaghan for Blacktressworld

It is 9:45pm on a Saturday night.    Blacktress has plans to attend a birthday party, at a bar in Hollywood, and should already be circling the spot looking for parking.  Instead she’s still in the shower casually belting (off key) the soundtrack from Dreamgirls.

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If a woman, who looks perfectly put together, says it only takes her ten minutes to get ready, you shouldn’t envy her.  She’s a fucking liar.   A woman who only takes ten minutes to get ready doesn’t have to tell you.  She looks like it. Stunning does not arrive in an express package.  It comes by snail mail.

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