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Casting Call This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   The short blurbin the newspaper said it all: Casting Call. Opportunity for kids, ages 6-12, toco-star in the next Kevin Costner motion picture. Tryouts at Westgate Mall thisSaturday at 2:00 p.m.

My mother alerted me to this article, and almostimmediately we started preparing for my Hollywood debut. We selected my bestheadshot, even though a yearbook photograph can hardly be considered a"headshot of celebrity." Together, we hand wrote my resume, less thanhalf a page. With the basic preparations done, I still had four days to daydreamabout my future success. I could just picture the articles in EntertainmentWeekly and Premiere. I could envision my interview on "EntertainmentTonight." The possibilities seemed endless. Destiny was calling, and Iseemed the natural choice for the role.

Saturday morning finally draggedaround, and the time came for my trek to Austin. My aunt came from Austin to takeme there and back. We found out that the movie was "A Perfect World,"and not only starred Kevin Costner, but also Clint Eastwood, who was the directortoo.

This was only my first tryout, and I was sure the movie would be ablockbuster! Not only will I ace this, I thought, but I will also be hobnobbingwith some big-name celebrities. On the way into the city, my aunt drove along thepicturesque Austin skyline. If this movie becomes a summer hit, I thought, Icould one day own those buildings.

An hour later, my aunt and I werestill standing by a store entrance inside the Westgate Mall. The line of at least100 kids had not moved. Kids were everywhere. I could clearly see the easilyrecognizable Channel 7 logo. The station was evidently doing a story on thetryouts. I promptly straightened up and donned my most respectable, mostdignified look. I assumed the reporter, after seeing such a professional lookingeight-year-old, would want to interview him before the director called him in fora read-through. I resumed my slouch the moment the reporter sailed past mewithout so much as a glance.

By this time, I was approaching thetryout room. I took firm hold of my resume and trotted over to the castingdirector's table. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied another television camera,only with a DayGlo orange "24" plastered on the side. I gave mypostured look another try. I snapped back out of my trance only seconds laterwhen the cameraman left, and handed the casting director my resume. I was handeda small stack of papers, told that they were practice scripts, and I had fiveminutes of memorization at my disposal.

Whoever said young children havegreat memories should be kicked in the head. This script made no sensewhatsoever. I thought the movie's storyline was about an escaped convict. Thescript before me featured orphans in a large city. Words that I didn't understandplastered the whole page. I tried glancing over the lines a fourth time when Iheard the casting director calling me into the next room. Five stone-faced peoplegreeted me.

Most of what happened next remains a blur. What I do rememberis one of those people abruptly telling me to "get in the cart." Atfirst, I thought "get in the cart" was a Hollywood term, until I turnedand saw an actual shopping cart. The small, dollar-store sized cart was painted agaudy shade of yellow, with the words "Everything's Ninety-Nine Cents"emblazoned on the side. Carts of such size could not hold a four-year-old, muchless an eight-year-old. It should have been obvious to the casting crew: The skyis blue. The grass is green. Eight-year-olds do not fit in shopping carts. When Icalmly explained this, I was given what is known in show business as The GreatBrush-Off: "Thank you, we'll call you." The next thing I remember, Iwas back in my aunt's car, heading home.

By the time I got home, thesweet smell of success had disappeared, replaced by the foul odor of defeat.Good-bye, "Entertainment Tonight." Farewell, Pre-miere. What had gonewrong? Questions flooded my mind. Could I have tried fitting into the cart?Should I have read my lines at all? Most important, why didn't they give myresume back?

Evening settled in, and I absently turned on the television.Channel 24's reporter mentioned the tryouts, and, intrigued, I looked at thescreen in time to see a partially shadowed vision of me trotting by the castingdirector's table. I smiled. I had made my way on screen. True, television is notquite the same as the movies, but I was grateful for any opportunity. Now, myfantasies of the future involve being on one of the local television stations,reporting the news to the masses. Personally, it seems the natural choice.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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