If you haven’t figured it out by now, I tend to take things very seriously. And by “things”, I mean everything. What you say to me in a casual email. What I say to you in line at Starbucks. What I read on your Facebook timeline.
And always, always what I am working on.
When I went to kindergarten, I was a dead-serious carrot-peeler and colorer. When I wrote ads, I was a dead-serious jingle writer who came early, stayed late, and worked weekends. And when I finally admitted to my fathers heavenly and biological that I was an actor, I signed on with the rigorous devotion of the fresh convert. I knew which newsstand got their copies of Back Stage West before the rest, and I had my self-submissions mailed out the next morning. I took any role I was offered and prepared for it as though it was the lead—which it wasn’t, ever, until the tail end of my acting career. (And even then, only once.) My embarrassingly short stint in the Groundlings Sunday Company was an object lesson in the futility of trying too hard, yet persist, I did: submitting sketches, wheedling fellow company members to collaborate, and, most shameful of all, sinking kingly sums into my personal wig collection long after it was clear to everyone else that I had the stink of death on me.
I let go of those wigs the way I disposed of the pieces my copywriting portfolio—slowly and reluctantly, as their lack of relevance dwindled, then altogether, in a kind of wistful resignation. My print ads ended up in the dumpster, but the last few wigs I offloaded on a talented young friend (who still has a busy career in and out of sketch comedy, and no clouds on the horizon). Even then, my need for security and, I suppose, recognition was so great, I included a request with the handoff—namely, that if some unimaginable need arose, she would be willing to loan one back to me.
Life is funny, and so is my friend Justin‘s writing. So when he offered to write me into his soap-gone-gonzo webseries AVE 43, I agreed without hesitation. My head was shaved by now, and the part he’d written kinda-sorta took that into account: when Margo made her first appearance, she was an imperious interior designer. After it became clear that “imperious” is NOT a color I’ve been gifted with, Margo reappeared as a terrified victim of The Highland Park Diddler in two episodes—once in a support group, and another where she has an unfortunate run-in with the Diddler himself. (PG-17 for violence, not sex.)
When Margo returned, she had joined the ranks at The Twat Club, AVE 43’s resident cathouse. While she was strictly a “‘novelty’ slut”—even in gonzo-soap webseries, I don’t play romantic leads—Justin thought it would be best if she donned a wig, for verisimilitude. He told me that he and his boyfriend had an old “Marilyn” wig I could use, but I said I was pretty sure I could cover it on my own. I am, after all, a pro-FESH-un-al.
Annie was more than willing to do that loan, but as I mentioned above, she is much in demand. It came down to a choice between me fighting my way out to Santa Monica on a Friday night, or the as-yet-unseen Marilyn wig. Though only midway into my year-and-a-half-long experiment with “good enough,” I managed to make the sane choice. I showed up the following morning with my lines down cold but everything else breezily scavenged: working-girl costume cobbled together from creepy, too-small underwear I’d kept on a hunch, plus a six-year-old lipstick I was too cheap to throw out.
Oh, and the wig of course. The hideous, gorgeous, dime-store wig. It lifted Margo to a (sorry) ho new level. The wig deserves its own credit, really; it does most of the acting, and writes its own jokes.
What’s most important is that I love wearing that hideous wig. It is easy. It is messy. It gets the job done, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. It suits the kind of actor I have somehow, accidentally, backed into being: not one who does it because she has to, or out of some wildly mistaken notion that it will fill any kind of hole inside, but because it is fun. I learn my lines, I show up early, I pull the wig on—any which way, mind you, and no mirror—and have a blast. I am allowed to be my ridiculous self, channeled through an even more ridiculous character, playing alongside brilliantly talented people.
Good enough? No—perfection.