Blacktress has exactly three weeks before she has to be naked on camera for the Indie Film, Open Mic Knight.   She thrusts herself into body beautification mode so intense one would swear her wedding day to the Prince of Wales is approaching.   Her first order of business is to track down all her vegan friends.   Ordinarily she finds them far too annoying to invite to dinner parties or share meals with.   But now that I’m watching my calories like Jennifer Hudson, this is the perfect time to catch up with those lunatics over lunch, she thinks.   When even thinking the words “catch-up” makes her crave a turkey burger and sweet potato fries, she realizes that she’s in for a long three weeks.”

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THE DADDY DOCTRINE: Never accept a role if you’d rather die than have your father see the finished product.

Blacktress finds herself, sitting in CATZ studios, waiting for her turn to read for one of the leading roles in an indie film.

“I just got the audition notice this morning.  Haven’t even had time to read the script,” she leans over and admits to another auditioner, who looks exactly like her only a foot shorter.

“Me neither” her midget clone whispers back guiltily.

Nevertheless Blacktress is relaxed and stress free.  The girls share a smile.

 Same day auditions are the best, she thinks.  They give you no time to obsess about your choices or presumptuously spend the entire paycheck in your head.

Once in the room, Blacktress gets a good vibe from the cute writer/ Director.   Her attraction wanes once she notices his ridiculously tight jeans and decides he’s either very uncomfortable or has nuts the size of pomegranate seeds.  During her read she feels his eyes lingering over her body.   She’s unfazed.  He’s a director, of course he’s either horny or a wierdo.  Before the sun goes down, the horny/wierdo hyphenate calls to offer her the role.

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Blacktress watches as her I-phone lights up and sings a digital blues riff.

“Hey Sam,” she says eagerly.

Her agent talks quickly as if Blacktress is a stenographer in need of a challenge.

“ Sotheywannaseeyouforthisthing. Saglowbuget.  Theroleof… Chantal.  A gorgeous pre-op tranny hooker.”

Is there even such a thing?  Blacktress wonders.

He goes on.

“The producer’s got a name.”

Blacktress rolls her eyes.  Don’t we all?

Sam powers on.

“They’vebeenlookingallover.  They’ve seen boys, girls, he/she’s, and shims.  Younameit.  Theycan’tfindit. Gogetit.”

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On a Thursday evening Blacktress and her British friend, Ann are waiting in line amongst film snobs and film students for a free screening of the new art house indie, Red Romance.

“Its getting a lot of Oscar buzz and I hear the performances are impeccable, ” they overhear the woman in front of them explain to her husband.

Blacktress and Ann are seemingly there to enjoy high art, but are actually there for the much publicized down and dirty sex scenes.

“I hear the lead girl gets head for ten minutes.  In real time.”  Blacktress explains to Ann.

“Oooooh!  Lovely,” she responds.  Her proper English accent warms over with a smoldering breathiness.

“What would respectable single girls do without kinky, art films?”

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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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