I’ve Played High School

I told a commercial agent today that my age range as an actor starts at sixteen. As I said it, I hoped he wasn’t noticing the wrinkle between my eyes. It’s the only telling sign of my true age. My friend’s sister had a wrinkle in the same spot. She got it botoxed. I plan on avoiding that procedure by doing eye-exercises that I found online. I do them at night before I go to bed. They involve stretching the eye-lid, raising the eyebrows, moving the eyes side-to-side within the sockets, and rapidly batting the eyelashes, which we all know, can alone make a girl feel pretty. So far the exercises only seem to diminish the appearance of the wrinkle when I’m actually doing them; when I’m not, it is still there, deep as a canyon.

“My age range is about sixteen to thirty-two,” I said.

The agent wrote it down and then, studying my face, pondered, “Sixteen. Mayyybeeee . . . maybe sixteen.”

“I’ve booked high school roles,” I lied.

I’ve never played high school, not even when I was in high school. Aside from the time I was cast as Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (I was cast not as ‘Susy’, but as Audrey, because I was skinny and my hairstyle resembled hers in the movie), I was always cast as the Little Old Lady. This, back when I didn’t even have any wrinkles. Pearl Burras in Greater Tuna, Maude in Harold and Maude, Vee Talbot in Orpheus Descending. I graduated from college with a BFA in acting without any experience playing someone my own age, and entered an industry in which the ‘type’ that gets the most work is “18 to look younger.”

“Interesting that they cast you as Vee,” the agent said, reading over my resume. Then he looked at me for an explanation.

“Yeah, I know.” I didn’t want to tell him my history with old-age type-casting.

“But why not Carol?” he asked.

“The director wanted to take a creative risk,” I quipped.

“Yeah, obviously. Vee is in her sixties and you are, well, not.”

I laughed, batted my eyelashes, and tried to subtly stretch the arch of my nose without raising my eyebrows.

“Sixteen,” he muttered. “Yeah, maybe. Maybe sixteen.”

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