Auditions Auditions…sigh

Author: mirai  //  Category: Theater, TV, and the Arts

I’m afraid that I have been neglecting my English blog lately.  I’ve been concentrating on mostly keeping my Japanese blog up to date.  But in doing so, I have found that my English writing skills have been taking a serious dump.  A friend of mine asked that I help translate an email from Japanese to English, which is usually quite easy for me, but I found it to be quite difficult.   It seems that my vocabulary has taken a vacation so I had a hard time finding the proper words.  So,  I think its time to update this blog.

A couple of months ago, I registered with another talent agency in Tokyo.  The owner, Yoko Uchida (half Ghanaian half Japanese) is a former foriegn talent and has appeared on TV on a number of occasions.  One of her more notable appearances was on a show called “Koko Ga Hen Dayo Nippon Jin” (“This Is What’s Strange About You Japanese People” -roughly translated).  It was a show with a panel of foriengers from various countries (living in Japan) who would regularly discussed and criticized strange Japanese behaviors, traditions and customs.  She appeared along side another fellow Ghanaian, Samy Pop who also works at the agency.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Yoko’s agency telling that there was an audition for a spot as a regular on a popular TV variety show in Japan with a very popular comedian.  It was a chance of a lifetime and a dream come true for me.  I happen to watch this show every week, and it is quite funny at times.  However, I was a bit concerned over what type of person that they were looking for.  Usually, the foriegners who appear on that show are usually silly people with either a ridiculously thick foriegn accent or who speak very broken Japanese, which Japanse people find humorous.  Knowing this, I was a bit apprehensive about even going to the audition, but I figured what will it hurt.

Anyways, I asked my manager at the agency if I had to act like one of those stupid foriegners and speak broken Japanese and he told me no.  Its a spot on a corner that features a game show, so they were actually looking for  foriegners who were knowlegeable about Japan.  Although I don’t know a whole lot, I think I can fend well for myself. so I decided to do the audition.

 I auditioned with two other people, both Australian. The other two people who were interviewing with me were your typical “henna gaijin” (silly foriegners) who often said silly things in broken Japanese that made absolutely no sense at all, yet the interviewer thought was hilarious. Although I failed to see what was funny, I just laughed along with them.  

To make a long story short, the interviewer commented that I was “too serious”, which I took as “lacking in a sense of humor”, and didn’t pass the audition.  At first, I was kind of sad, but after thinking it over, I realize I definately was not right for that show.  I definately lack the ability to act obnoxiously silly on a routine basis on national television.  So although I was sad at first, I’m kind of relieved that I don’t have to degrade myself for cheap laughs every week.

A couple of days ago, after have gotten over the last audition, Yoko herself called with another audition.  I was a bit star struck when Yoko called me.  I thought it was cool that a one time celebrity rings me up on my cell phone.  She had news of another audition that was going on the next day.  I had already had a training session with my company already scheduled at that same exact time, so at first I was going to tell her that I couldn’t make it.  But I decided a long time ago that I would never turn down an audition or TV job unless it involved nudity or went against my moral fibers (which I have very little of).  So I managed to rearrange my schedule a bit so that I could go to the audition and attend the training.

The audition was for TV commercial for Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric).  I would play the role of a foriegn exchange student from India (yeah, again I am an Indian).  I figured that there will be real Indians there so I would have to do something to make myslef stand out more.  On the way from work, I searched frantically for a shop that sells turbans in Tokyo.  Although there were a few places online where I could get one, it would never arrive on time so I needed to find a place that sold them offline. 

After thirty minutes of hopping from shop to shop. I could not find a single place that sold them.  Nearly giving up, I found a small shop near Shibuya station that sold fabric.  I guess I could make one, I thought.  Having never tied a turban in my life, other than wrapping a towel over my head after a shower, I chose the cheapest most comfortable feeling sheet of white fabric I could find thinking it would be adequate for my needs.

When I got home and attempted to make a turban, I found it to be a lot more difficult than I imagined.  The fabric that I had chosen was too thick and too soft.  Ideally, it would have been better to have gotten something thin and wrinkled easily. I spent hours looking up various websites and trying various methods, but none of them worked with the fabric that I had chosen. 

Strangely enough.  I found a black silk muffler (scarf) that was perfect.  I tied it around my head in a shape of a turban and it looked pretty good.  I decided to go with this look.

Yesterday, I met Yoko at Toranomon Station.  I was expecting her to comment on my self-made turban made from an old scarf, but she didn’t.  Perhaps she thought it was real?

When we got to the audition, we all signed in and went in one by one to say a couple of lines and do our bit in front of a video camera and the director. The assistant director then said, “if you don’t mind, can you remove the turban?”…all that work for nothing.  The part actually called for the actor to wear a wig. GRRRR!!!  The AD then asked, are you Indian? to which I said, no I am an American.  Hethen turned to the director and whispered, “he’s not an Indian! What do you want to do?”  The director then said, “Its okay, lets see what he can do.”  I sighed with relief and continued the audition.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how things went.  I looked at my competition (all real Indians), and although they were all younger than me, they all looked too old to be students (which is what the role called for)  The one person who looked young enough to be a student didn’t speak any Japanese (which the role also called for).  Admittedly, I didn’t do my best acting either.  I’m not a good improv actor.  I need a script and I need time to become the character.  Given the circumstances, and coupled with the fact that I am not a real bonafide Indian from India, I think my chances I are 50-50, if not slimmer.  But I guess anything can happen.