Monday, July 14, 2008

Strangely-Familiar Characters

Well, I didn't realize I was getting comments, because apparently I didn't set my blog to notify me when they were made. Oops. I thank those of you who have commented, for stopping by, connecting, and wishing me luck on my various projects. :) I am so thrilled to be an active part of the Fatosphere!

As promised, I mentioned that these is always the fat condition of being cast BECAUSE you're fat. It happens everywhere, but we're clearly the ones who are almost always the butt of the jokes or the sad sack.

Well.

It is especially difficult to be cast when you are fat, but also vibrant--with a leading lady personality and voice.

What have people decided to do in lieu of this?

Alter their scripts to CHANGE THE ROLE. No, you read me right, and yes, I wish I were kidding. I don't mean this in the positive way, either.

I was in a short film a year ago, playing a lead who was depressed and about to drown herself at sea. The producer and director loved me so much, but--oh!--I'm fat, so let's make it that she's a FAT girl whose boyfriend dumped her because she's such a shameless chowhound, and that's why she goes to drown herself. Oh! But! It gets better! After her epiphany when she's taking herself out to sea, you cut to her personal rehabilitation, and she is....running.

Oooooooooooooof COURSE.

Because CLEARLY a fat chick can't just be depressed period; she must be depressed because people won't love her because she's fat. And to fix herself and make life worth living, she runs and loses weight.

Obviously!

Now, I can't stress enough to you the HILARITY of this situation--I was irritated and annoyed that they would do this, but the director and producer LOVE me. Adore me. Do not think ill of me in any way....except that I'm fat, and they therefore needed to justify my presence on-screen.

Not only did this happen in one film, but within a few months I was involved in yet ANOTHER film which took similar steps. I was auditioning for the role of a 15-year-old girl who had been molested and was now going through major shock. I had a rock-solid audition, and the director and producer loved me. They wanted someone with darker features, but they had a role for me, they said! I got the script, and in the middle of the story, I see my name as the character's name. Uh....what? At the time, I was also in a production of Richard III, and I'm reading...and the character says, "Hey, come see me in Richard III!"

Aha, you have MORPHED me into your screenplay. Clever.

(But ohdoesit get better.)

My me-character is trying to help a transvestite stop wrestling with himself and find peace. I thought it was just going to be this empowering conversation, but I'm reading, and I SWEAR TO GOD....

HENRY

I admire you.

(ME)

What?!

Why?

HENRY

You look very happy and confident.

Being with you, makes me relaxed and comfortable.

You have magic!

How can you be so happy?

(ME)

I learned.

Look at me.

I know my body…and I know the first impression people get from me.

Is the appearance so important?

Yes…I agree…appearance is the life of some actors.

But it doesn’t mean my dream has to be stopped due to my weight.

Acting is my dream; eating is my pleasure.

I enjoy being myself, and living the way I want.

HENRY

Do you mind when people judge you?

(ME)

I don’t care how people look at me before they know me,

but I do care how people value me after they know me.

Accept it or not, it is impossible for everyone to love me.

What I did, and I am doing right now is balance the fine line

between myself and the rest of the world.

You know one of the reasons I like acting…it’s because I can become someone else for a while, thinking differently, moving differently, feeling differently.

I convert myself into the roles with my soul, my passion, and my professionalism.

That’s the way I convince people beyond my appearance.

Besides, I know I have a good personality that makes people like me.


How much ridiculousness can possibly be fit into 2 minutes of text?! Now we know. Thankfully, no one else has tried to work my weight in as a freaking plot point--yet. But I needed to share these with you. At least this second one, as laughable and irritating as it is, still portrays me as someone confident, secure and pleased with herself--and being ALLOWED to be so.

I had a brain child some time ago about starting a theatre company that's expressly for fat actors (how do I weed out thinner people who think they're fat? Prerequisite: You must write on your audition form the most painful instance of others discriminating against you based on being a fat person). It would be an outlet for fatties to play leading roles, letting the general public FINALLY view us as people worthy of wooing, excitement, romance, bravery, tenderness, accolades...it's still on my pile. I sure as hell don't have the production monies, but if any of you other NYers out there have the dime and the time, send me a line. :)

-Zaftige



8 comments:

tanglethis said...

Love it. I teach a class in popular culture, so I'm always trying to get students to look at how and why media is presented the way it is - and it's valuable to get the behind-the-scenes look at that.
Re: the fat acting company, I think that would be positive step up from fat burlesque troupes (which, while fun, still run on the economy of fat fetishization). But you could let conventionally thin people in - in specially written roles, as characters struggling with their weight and learning to accept others. ; )

The Zaftig Thespian said...

ROFL!!!! AMAZING!!!!

bigmovesbabe said...

If you don't feel like doing all the work of start-up, check in with Big Moves New York (let me know at marina at bigmoves dot com, and I'll put you on the mailing list). The group is regrouping right now, and considering lots of different performance projects, not just dance. In Boston, we've been doing musicals in the fall for two years now, starting rehearsals for the third one right now, and our fattie performers DO get lead roles, or roles that they would normally not get out in mainstream community theater land, like the ingenue or the vamp. Check us out at www.bigmoves.org. I love what you're blogging about... Keep it up!

fatistician said...

Do you think that an all fat theater group could do a musical or two? I'm so sick of playing someone's mother in musicals. Srsly.

MyUserNameReadIt said...

This person had just posted today something along these lines..

http://tinyurl.com/55brr7

btw, entertaining and awesome read.

The Zaftig Thespian said...

Marina, I am in LOVE with Big Moves! I think I tried to contact you a while ago but you weren't casting at the time. I'll drop you a line with me headshot and resume and let you know it's me. :)

Fatistician, I am Totally in on fat musicals. Even more so with what Kate just wrote about, that train wreck of a reality show that is Legally Blonde! The day we break free from the mom roles is the day we've won!!

-Zaftige

withoutscene said...

I love how you've articulated the ways the system can work against people, especially people who are "defined" by something physical (that needs to be "accounted" for). I just got done watching The TV Set yesterday, which was totally depressing.

I was always into acting, but didn't quite have the confidence in high school and I can't sing a lick. I really would like to get back into some kind of performance, though.

outofthebasement said...

Wow, that's a great idea. I'd come audition! (Although to be honest I'm not sure if you'd let me in, since I'm somehow stradling the fence between "think's she's fat" and actually "is" fat.)

I did drama in high school, and tried in college, but I knew I'd never get a good role because I didn't look like a leading lady. Well, my acting might not have been all that brilliant... but I at least deserved a shot!