I want to hold on to this day, the hours within it, the moments as they unfold, reminding me of days spent in the golden wheat fields of my childhood. I would lie in tall grass, my face up to a ceiling of amorphous clouds, white against blue, transparent and opaque, and ever-changing, drawing out from within me the world I traversed in the pages of books and images from films etched into my mind. I imagined I was an actress. Like many other little girls. Right? So what.
I had a dream then. It’s different now. I’m older and have grown wary and maybe a bit weary, if I’m completely honest. I need more sleep and get less, it seems I have more to do and less time to do it in. I don’t spend as many hours as I would like with those I love. Responsibilities, health, pressures, all pressing in.
So I said no to an offer from a producer. It was an offer I had spent all those young years longing for, and then trying for in my 20s and 30s. But reality gently removed that dream. And I no longer desire it.
Then I said no a second time to the casting director. I said I was trying to cut things out of my life not add more in. And besides, you should know, I said, I have this health thing going on. I give myself a weekly injection, have trouble keeping weight on my body, and am a tad paranoid about keeping hair on my head.
I had had a good go of it back then. The theatre. My dream of acting. It took an unexpected turn for the worse in my 30s. Relationships interfered. Self-confidence dwindled. Overwork turned into over-thinking and over-preparation, and I lost all sense of joy and spontaneity. That’s a bad thing for an actor. For anybody.
When I discovered I loved to dance, I never looked back. But I still dream about it. I’m always waiting for my entrance and I can’t find my costume. I don’t know my lines. I always wake up just as I’m opening my mouth to speak or sing.
And now I write. It makes me happy. The woman-me exists in the world with my paper and pencil like that child-me did in those fields. My eyes upward, I write my way past those things that have held me back in life. I have rediscovered joy and spontaneity. I am loved and validated by people I respect, who respect me and except me for who and what I am, the often ruffled, always imperfect, sometimes too talkative, other times too quiet, introverted, extroverted, battle-scarred me. And I don’t want to go back—certainly not to relive my past.
So I said no a third time.
But when the casting director sent me a callback notice with a date and time, I suddenly felt like I was being knocked over the side of my head and said, Okay.
We had met at an event through work and talked about LA, acting, and the theatre. I had shared that I lived in LA and New York, and used to act and she said, ‘Well, you should get back into it. You wouldn’t believe how many people are just starting to act later in life. We simply don’t have enough older actors.’ I nodded and thought how awful that sounded: the stress, the pressure, the uncertain hours. I love my life—my marriage, my pets, my family, my church, and my small world of special friends. I love my work, most of the time. Why would I change it?
Perhaps only for the reason I wanted to do it in the first place. You can give voice to something that has no voice, you can transform hopelessness into hope, touch a darkened soul with light. You have to be ever-learning, ever-listening, and ever-growing in empathy. And you are forced to live in the present.
So at 4:35 PM this afternoon, I’ve decided that if I can pull up some genuine emotion, if I can deliver a line with an authentic voice, if I can relax and listen, and hold a thought with my eyes (without blinking), if I can enjoy it, if I can have fun and not take myself so seriously, I will give it a shot.
So at 63, I am auditioning for my first screen role. And if I don’t get it? Who cares. I’ve already been twice blessed.