Friday, April 29, sometime in the evening: An audition notice pops into my inbox. They want a 6-month-old baby girl for a parenting tips video (for a major toy brand). I log into the casting site, confirm that we will be there, and start putting everything in order: the baby's work permit, a headshot (which at this age is just a snapshot I took myself), and a bar code from one of the casting sites (it's a way to organize and keep track of talent). She will need a resume at some point, but probably only after she has actually booked some jobs. I make a mental note that Hunter will need to stay after hours at school, so he will need an afternoon snack.
Let me back up to a couple of months ago. Obviously my family thinks Paloma is a pretty cute baby, but at around 4 months old, part of me thought that maybe other people like talent agents might think so too. After posting a cute photo of Paloma on Facebook and one friend saying she should model (half jokingly? not sure), I decided to take the plunge. I chose three snapshots of her and sent them to a San Diego talent agency as well as a Los Angeles agency. A week went by, and while I was waiting to hear back, I discovered one more talent agency in LA that I thought I should contact. I got an immediate reply, "Please send more photos showing her upright." Since at that point she couldn't sit up yet, I put her in the bouncy seat, took a couple of photos, and sent those to the agent. Nothing. Another week went by.
Meanwhile, the first LA agency got back to me and said thanks but no thanks. To this day I have not heard from the San Diego agency, which is another way of saying NO. When an agency wants you, they get back to you. Period. I got to looking at the second set of photos I sent, and realized the lighting was bad and Paloma had had a cold so her eyes were a little crusty. What was I thinking sending those photos? Crusty-eyed baby was not the impression we wanted to make, so I took some more photos, including the one you see above. I sent a polite note in a new email saying something like, "Hello again. Here are a few more photos in case you are still interested." A week later, we got an acceptance letter from the agency. It took about 6 weeks for her to receive her first audition notice.
Sunday, May 1, late afternoon: Isaiah and the children are outside in the yard enjoying the weather. I am folding laundry. Isaiah comes inside to use the sink. All of a sudden we hear the baby scream and begin to cry! We both run out there to find Hunter with a mini monster truck in his hand and the baby's nose is all red. Isaiah exclaims, "Oh, Hunter, the day before her audition!" The baby has a scratch on her nose. A little blood has come out. She also has a blackhead on the tip of her nose that's been bugging me. Great.
Monday, May 2, 6:30 a.m.: I have not popped out of bed this quickly in a long time. I am nervous and excited about the day but also dreading the long drive to LA. The audition is at 11:55 a.m., but we need three hours to get there and some extra time to find parking, hence the early wake up time. We drop Hunter off at school around 8 a.m. and then we hit the road. We stop twice. Once at a rest stop so I can use the restroom and the second time to nurse the baby.
11:10 a.m.: The audition is at some studio offices near The Grove, which is a beautiful shopping center near the CBS studios. We park in the garage at the shopping mall, I nurse Paloma, have a little snack myself, and dress her for the audition. We arrive at the office at 11:45. I find the sign-in sheet and notice the list is not very long. Good, it's not a cattle call. It's an invitation-only type of casting. I am guessing they will be seeing around 10 babies total. I know this because I saw one baby headed back to the elevators when we stepped off. Then after getting settled in the waiting area, I see 5 more babies waiting ahead of us. A cute, blue-eyed baby with her mommy and daddy are friendly and smiling at Paloma. The daddy says, "Nice wrap." I am wearing my Girasol ring sling, so I thank him politely. A solo dad in the room, asks, "Is that right? Is that a wrap?" I go on to explain that it's a ring sling made from a woven wrap. The blue-eyed baby goes in for her audition, and then 3 more babies come in to the office.
Everyone is all smiles, except for one mom. She keeps to herself and looks at her phone a lot. The rest of us are checking each other out in the friendliest way that you can check out the competition. Might as well be nice because our babies are in the same category, so we will most likely see them at future auditions. After glancing at the sign-in list again, about half of the babies are from the same agency as ours. The babies range from 6-8 months old. The solo dad and two other moms seem to know what's up because I overhear them talking about the biz. The rest of us, I discover, are all on our first audition. Overall, its three sets of mom/dad, 6 solo moms, and one solo dad who have brought their babies in for this audition.
I briefly mention to one mom that Hunter bonked the baby in the nose the day before, and she gushes, "Don't worry -- she's perfect!" Her husband jokes that they had their baby in quarantine for 24 hours before the audition. I talk too much about how it took me three hours to get there and I am not sure I can keep this up. I remember that ears are everywhere and the audition starts the moment you walk in the office, so I remind myself to shut my big mouth. One mom is a little discouraging, saying the pay is not worth the huge effort to travel from San Diego. I remind myself that we are not in it for the pay. It would be fun to see Paloma in a catalog or in a video, and if she gets a little money for her college savings, then that's a plus (though I am hoping she will book at least one job so we can break even with the costs for travel and parking).
12:55 p.m.: We've been waiting a little over an hour when we finally get called in. The room has amazing light. The furniture is all white. A woman stands up from her desk to greet us and explains what to do next. The young man who brought us back there steps over to the camera. Paloma is such a ham, smiling at them both and being her usual sweet self. The woman tells me to sit on the sofa with P in my lap and to read the slate once the camera starts rolling. "This is Paloma, and she is 6 months old."
Then she tells me to set P on a blanket on the rug and to sit next to her and interact with her. They have a stuffed dog and a crinkle book for the babies to play with. I choose the crinkle book. It has three pages, A, B, and C, but as I am "reading" it to P, I get totally distracted by the fact that next to A is a dog and next to B is a monkey. What kind of ABC book is this? Now, I have lost all ability to interact with my child. I canNOT get her to laugh. We even practiced at home. She usually doesn't laugh much for me, but the plan was to do the game Isaiah always plays with her to make her laugh, but I freeze. She is engrossed in the stupid ABC book and hardly looks up from it. I switch to the dog and get her to smile and look up a bit. They film us doing this for a minute or so, and then the woman asks me to rock P in my arms and sing to her. I sing Edelweiss, which P loves, so she is nice and calm in my arms looking up at me. They ask me if we have a work permit for P and if we are available this week for the shoot. Finally, they thank us for our time, and we leave.
Wednesday, May 4: I must say, I did not expect to have to perform so much for the baby's audition. It felt like I was auditioning! Good thing I wore makeup. Paloma, on the other hand, did great, especially since she didn't cry or poop her pants during the audition. Today, however, is the first day of the shoot, and we did not get a call. Somewhere in LA, a cute baby girl is making a video, and I will never know why it's not Paloma. Maybe it was the scratch on her nose, or my big mouth, or the fact that she is still a little wobbly at sitting up. Most likely it's simply that she doesn't have the look they were going for, and we are OK with that. (In this world, you have to be.) There's always next time!