Between fame and rubbish exposure

Recently, I was shortlisted by a modelling agency to audition for a skincare TV commercial.

I doubt my skin is in any condition to endorse a skincare product so I didn’t think I had half a chance of getting the job. But I went anyway because auditions are good networking opportunities, whether or not you end up getting the job.

So I went to this production house and found out that they were doing another round of shortlisting before the final candidates are sent off to meet the real paying client.


Production House Person was actually someone with whom I had worked in the past. She said, “Aiyah, you should have told me you were coming. I would have just sent you directly to the client, no need to waste your time come here.”

“Never mind lah,” I said. “I live nearby anyway.”


I should have said something PR like, “Oh, I wanted to drop by and catch up with you.” But curry favouring has never been my forte and I never can do it spontaneously.

Anyway, PH Person told me that the client wanted a fresh face because the commercial is going to be one of those before-and-after thingys.

Before: Ugly duckling from Pimple City

–> Use XYZ skincare!!

After: Magically become princess

I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to appear on TV with a face full of fake pimples.

Besides, I’m not exactly a “fresh face”. But PH Person said to go anyway. So I did (the following week) and I met the other contenders.

There were three of them and they were all 19-year-old sweet-young-thing students, all innocent and fresh looking.

I felt like I had mistakenly taken part in a beauty contest for which I was overqualified. Not in the looks department, but age. As I sat there in the room, I waited to be disqualified.

Diiiing! You’re out you’re too old how the heck did you sneak into the finals?

I tried to blend in by not talking too much and giving myself away and I think they didn’t suspect a thing because one of them tried to start a conversation with me by asking me which school I was from.

After making us wait an hour, the client finally decided to see us. I went first because I was the first to arrive at the office. I was the only punctual one, in fact. As if that makes any difference.

When I entered the room, the first words from the client were, “You look very familiar. I’ve seen you on TV before.” Except that she didn’t know who I was nor where she’d seen me before.

Not surprising.

“You look familiar” is one of the most uttered phrases uttered to me, right up there with “How old are you?”

Yeah, yeah. I am 929 years old and I’m your second uncle’s twice-removed cousin’s colleague’s gynaecologist’s great grand aunt.

Well, Ms Client said that if people have seen me on TV before, the before-and-after ad might not be too convincing.

PH Person was there and tried to put a good word in for me by saying that I was the only one who could act, and they did want someone like that.

Then, there was the customary “we’ll let you know” bs and that was it.

I think I need plastic surgery to change my looks. Everyone and his garden rake finds me familiar looking.

But no one knows who I am.

I think that is really insulting. And saddening that I’m too “famous” to appear in certain TV commercials but not actually famous enough to get celebrity endorsements.

I am the unwanted middle child.

Oh, woe.

People stare at me on the streets because they find me familiar, so I have no privacy. I suffer the disadvantages of fame but do not enjoy the benefits.

Excuse me?

I think I must have messed up somewhere.

Auditions are cruel and evil

The shitty thing about auditions is that you always fail the ones you really want to pass, and you pass the ones you don’t really care about failing.

At least that’s what happens to me.

Some time ago, I went to four auditions in three days. My confidence was high and I thought I might even get all of them. I really wanted to get at least two of them. I thought I performed well, I looked the part, and there was no reason for them not to choose me.

But within the very same week, three of them contacted me and told me that I wasn’t chosen. Another one called to say the project was cancelled so no one was chosen.

That was a really sucky week.

Usually, “failures” are not notified. Only the selected one is notified. Which is good because I’m allowed to be optimistic and hope for the best until, one day, I just naturally forget about it. That way, the pain of failure is manageable.

I don’t know what’s up with that week, why all of them simultaneously thought that I needed to be informed of my failure right away.

It’s awful to get a call or e-mail telling you that you weren’t selected. It’s like a slap in the face. All your hopes are dashed instantly, leaving an emptiness inside you that you’re not quite sure how to fill. I guess it’s kind of like when you get dumped — you lose your appetite, you go into a daze and you don’t really want to do anything other than sit in a corner and stare because you don’t know what else you can do.

It’s more awful when the same thing happens one after another within a short time.

I prefer no news to bad news. Other people might think different, but that’s them.

And then, there are times when I go for auditions, not really wanting to get the job because I think the role isn’t really me or I don’t like the role, or some other reason. (I go for these auditions anyway because I still need to feed myself and can’t afford to be selective of jobs.)

And then those jobs I get.

There are also auditions I think I performed really badly at. I want the audition tapes to be destroyed forever because I was horrible.

Those jobs I get.

There was this audition I almost didn’t attend because, when I read the casting script, I felt I couldn’t get a good handle on the character, so I didn’t think I could do it well enough to get selected. And I didn’t feel like wasting my time going after a lost cause.

But I went anyway because they had already scheduled a slot for me and it’s really bad form not to turn up when people expect you to turn up.

I did try my best to learn the lines and come up with the best performance I could, but I still thought I sucked, especially during the improv segment, which you can’t prepare for.

Well, I was seriously puzzled when I received the call telling me I got the job. After that, the director told me I was really impressive at the audition and I was able to give him all the interpretations he wanted.

It’s really weird but, as much as praise is a wonderful thing, it’s a hard pill to swallow when you believe that you don’t deserve it.

Life is stupid, nein?

I’m always trying to explain to people what the audition routine is like.

Think about your day job. Think about the interview you had to go through to get the job.

Now, imagine that, after the interview, you get the job, but you can only work for three days. After that, if you want to work some more, you have to watch out for more interview opportunities to try again.

Also, factor in the time and transport costs for every interview you attend.

A prolific Hollywood player said that an 80% fail rate is the norm. That means that, on average, you’ll have to attend 10 interviews to get two jobs.

If you’re lucky, a successful interview will nab you a bigger job which will allow you to work a week or more, or even a few months. Most of the time, each successful interview earns you only a day or two of work.

Sometimes, you don’t work for months.

How would you like to live that way?

You may call me a glutton for punishment for choosing this path. Go ahead.

But I can’t choose differently because I prefer the joy of those precious few days of work to the blah comfort of job security.

The constant hurt of rejection is something I choose to put up with.

But it’s not a big deal in the long run because hurt can be healed and forgotten, while happy memories last forever.