It’s been said that booking an acting gig is a lot like gambling. Both are high stakes, involve a degree of skill, and both involve that intangible quality of luck. So it was appropriate that I found myself in a suit and tie at a casting director’s office in Beverly Hills singing a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady.” The spot was for a commercial to promote New Jersey’s online gambling with Caesars Palace. It was a callback.
The original breakdown had called for a Barney Stinson type (Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother). Perfect! I can do NPH, I thought. Before the callback I had gotten a note from my agent that this time the client wanted more Dollar Shave Club CEO, less Neil Patrick Harris. I read between the lines: less gay, more butch. I may not be able to grow facial hair, but after ten years of living in Philly, I can definitely goomba it up.
I came prepared. Out of all the Frank Sinatra songs I know, “Luck Be A Lady,” didn’t happen to be one of them. So, in order to prep for the audition I spent a lot of time watching YouTube clips and singing along to the song at home and in my car on the way to the audition. As I strutted across the street into the casting director’s office, I felt good and looked very smart in my black pinstripe suit. When I walked into the waiting room one of the actors said, “Dammit, you look like Frank Sinatra.” I smiled and said, “I guess you better go home then.” It’s a good thing Ronan Farrow never showed.
As auditions normally go, all bets are off. Not only did the client want Dollar Shave Club CEO at the callback, but now they asked actors to memorize a version of “Luck Be A Lady,” that had been rewritten with Caesars Palace specific lyrics. “Luck Be a smart phone tonight… Luck be a smart phone tonight… Luck if you ever were at Caesars Online Gambling…” Roll of the dice, big money, big money.
Cut to the audition: I’m in front of the client, casting director, and three other guys. I’m dancing and singing to the camera with the new lyrics. I’m maintaing the sparkle of Barney Stinson, while keeping the demeanor of the Dollar Shave Club CEO. In that brassy moment I’m golden and a true winner. The client laughs, guys slap me on the back, I’m feeling good, great even. I leave the office with a Sinatra stride – I’ve got the world on a string. So good that when I’m driving back and hear my phone ring, I answer already expecting to accept the part.
I’m shocked when I hear my co-worker Michael on the line tell me, “You didn’t schedule the call. The woman is pissed, she’s canceling her service.”
It doesn’t register. “Huh?”
“You didn’t schedule the call. You were supposed to call Samantha at 11am and it wasn’t in the calendar. Samantha said she doesn’t wait for anybody. She wrote a nasty email saying she’s canceling her service with us. Do you understand that this will jeopardize our chances at auditioning??” Michael is also an actor.
“I’m sorry. I’m usually really good at putting all my meetings in the calendar. I’m sorry.”
“Just get back here soon so we can sort this out.” He hangs up.
Instead of lady luck shining down on me that day I got Samantha. It was an omen for a call that never came from the casting director. The part went to another Frank Sinatra/Dollar Shave Club CEO/Barney Stinson singing and dancing actor. I had played my hand, but it wasn’t enough to trump the winner. As I got in my car and drove back to work, I threw my imaginary fedora in the back seat and loosened my tie. When auditioning, as in gambling, sometimes you come up short – but you got to play to win.