“Finding the sweet spot between polished and authentic is an art that has become a critical skill for success and personal satisfaction in this age of infinite opportunity. ”
Two weeks ago I went to a casting call in L.A. to try out for Full Figured Fashion Week 2015. (Yep, its a thing - check it out:www.fffweek.com) Full Figured Fashion Week was born circa 2012 as a response to the lack of body diversity in mainstream fashion but also as a celebration of curvy women and the ever-growing market catering to the American majority demographic: Women size 12 and up. The casting call was held at the Hollywood Dance Center in one of the unassuming and charming small upstairs studios. There are a number of casting calls being held in various places around the country over the next few months; the event itself takes place in New York City in June.
I went into this audition with a lot of confidence and excitement - which is generally my M.O. for things I've never done before and am blissfully undereducated about. I had watched all the videos on youtube and had an idea of the look the casting directors were interested in. Based on past years, it seems that majority of the women cast for the show are women of color and generally a size 16 and above. Although I didn't quite fit the look, I knew that of course they would accept diverse looks if the talent made the cut. Regardless, the fact that the event exists and is gaining traction was enough to get me amped up - so there was no question in my mind about whether or not to try out. At the core, I went to the casting call in the name of size diversity in the fashion world and our media at-large.
To prepare, I lined up a private runway walk & etiquette lesson from a woman in Santa Barbara who founded our local fashion school. For the record, walking a runway effectively, in a way that makes the clothes and you look good is actually WAY harder than it looks. It reminded me of ballet class in the sense that there are about ten different variables to be aware in each moment, like: Engaging your core big time, throwing your shoulders back while leaning back and jutting your hips forward, oh yeah, and lifting your head as if it were being suspended by a string, holding your gaze steady while remembering your step count and precisely how you plan to pose, turn and keep the whole thing going in a seemingly-effortless flow. I was sweating by the end of the lesson. It was a lot like learning choreography for dance or taking a yoga class.
I was one of the first women in line, which grew steadily for the next hour and half. The other women there were all beautiful, big, well-proportioned and looking pretty FLY. I was loving it. The whole thing moved quite swiftly and the casting crew itself was encouraging and kept the mood light. I had the sense that we were all part of a shift - a big shift for women, men, and the creative freedom of expression and being allowed to celebrate who and how you are.. Naturally...Now. This is truly a birthright and one that many have lost and many are now rediscovering. YES!
When my moment came to go before the judges, I did suddenly get somewhat nervous and felt as if the room sort of closed in around me. When I turned to face the the judges (the two founders of the event), after a moment of pause, one of the women asked me if I was excited, because apparently my poker face was ON and I did not LOOK as thrilled as I was to be there. That was the first curve ball. The second came when they asked me to smile and bring out the sass, because I had essentially practiced a much more reserved and poised demeanor - a carefully planned performance that certainly did not include a smile. The irony, of course, is that vibrant and sassy are natural for me and the smile I had worked so hard to tame was exactly what they wanted me to dish out! So, within the first 30 seconds I was asked to throw my game plan out the door. A bit flustered, knowing I had about 30 seconds to prove myself, I gave it my best and strutted towards the judges trying to remember AND forget everything I'd learned simultaneously. Retrospectively, my inner chatter could have been the stuff for a hilarious out-take blooper video. Hmmm - next blog post?
I got the email a week later saying I'd missed the cut. I'll admit that I left feeling like I didn't quite give them what they were looking for and struck out on those curve balls for sure. Despite that I had totally planned on making it, going to New York and having a blast...the reality was that I wasn't yet quite prepared to meet the moment. I defaulted to what I had practiced despite seeing and hearing that what they wanted was quite the opposite.
What's the take home message, I asked myself. Well, There are a few gems here: The first is that is it really important to GO FOR IT in life and try new things, especially when you are very passionate about the larger impact that it may have in the world. The second is that MEETING THE MOMENT is a critical skill in our Wild Wild West world of novelty, entrepreneurism and the Millennials' love for change. The need for flexibility and dynamism in the every day is definitely a necessary tool for success. And the third piece of this is that we are in a time where people are drawn to AUTHENTICITY and have a strong bullshit radar for filtering anything that is disingenuous. People want real, unique expression and experience. Finding the sweet spot between polished and authentic is an art that has become a critical skill for success and personal satisfaction in this age of infinite opportunity. It is the art of awareness.
So in my mind, this casting call was a major success. Lessons learned and first time fears faced. Personal bullshit radar engaged :)