Tuesday, January 29, 2008

GUEST COLUMN: Living on “The Edge…”
The Secret to Success…
Reading Susan Dansby’s blog last week, regarding her book, How Did You Get That Job? My Dream Jobs and How They Came True , inspired me to share with you how I got my gig as "DiDi Bannister" on EDGE OF NIGHT...and without an agent, no less!

Ninety percent of an actor's job is just trying to GET work, so early-on I developed the habit of devoting one day a week to doing just that -- sending out postcards, going to open calls, etc.

When I read in Ross Reports (a listing of agents, casting directors , studios, networks and production houses) that EDGE had a new casting director (Whitney Burnett), I mailed her my picture and resume with a little note requesting a general audition. About three months later, she called me in to read for EDGE.

None of the agents I was free-lancing with had thought to submit me because, at the time, I was doing a lot of TV commercials and they thought of me as a "commercial actress" ...totally disregarding all my theater credits. More than 100 actresses were called in to read for the role of “DiDi” -- a lot of them with major film and Broadway credits. But after a round of three auditions and one screen test, the job was mine!

There were four of us who were screen-tested on-set with Irving Lee ("Calvin Stoner") at the end of a regular tape day. As the last person to go on-camera, director John Sedwick asked if I wouldn't mind foregoing my rehearsal and just go straight to tape so everyone could go home. He promised that if I screwed up, we would re-do it. Well, I knew that wasn't gonna happen! It has been a loooong day for the crew, and they just wanted to get out of there.
Anyway, 30 seconds into the scene, I heard this sexy oboe music start to play (unbeknownst to me, EDGE laid down its music tracks while taping the live scenes as a cost-saving measure). Once I heard the music, I relaxed into it and allowed it to become my subtext for the scene. So while the "cop versus criminal attorney" dialog was antagonistic, the subtext was pure physical attraction!

I was later told by a member of the crew that watching the chemistry between Irving and me was "pure magic." It was the music -- and trusting myself to go with it -- that got me the job of “DiDi Bannister” – and totally changed my career.


I’ve heard it said that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful ones are willing to do the things that unsuccessful ones aren’t. In my case, it was (and still is) spending one day out of every week to do the “grunt” work of making sure that every casting director in town had/has me in their files. If I hadn’t submitted myself to Whitney Burnett, she would never have known about me and called me in.

When I recently came back to New York , I sent out a mailer letting everybody know I was back in town. And last week I sent out a mailer letting everybone know about my stand-up appearances at Caroline’s.

“Grunt work” is tedious, time consuming and not very glamorous…but trust me, the REWARDS can be tremendous. So keep the faith…and just keep on keepin’ on!

A blast from the past!
"DiDi & Calvin"

Mariann will be appearing at Caroline’s on Comedy Club, 1626 Broadway (at 50 th St ) in New York City ( www.carolines.com ) on Wednesday, January 30 & Monday, February 11. Both shows are at 7 pm. For Reservations call 212-757-4100. Mention that you’re coming to see Mariann and get the “Friends and Family” rate on the cover charge. Pay $7.00 on Wednesday and $5.00 on Monday…saving $10.00.

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