My first significant television experience was playing a sixteen year-old prep-school student on Gossip Girl. Apparently I still looked sixteen in my mid-late twenties. I wasn’t going to argue with the director about that. It must be the dimples. Anyway, this was back in the day when Gossip Girl was the biggest thing on television and everybody started dressing in cardigans and knee socks and ending their texts with “xoxo.”
I was selected by the director to be a “bitchy schoolgirl” who gives Dan Humphrey a death stare after he wrongs Serena van der Woodsen. Sure, my scene only lasts 8 seconds, but I had to wait 18 hours until we could shoot it. The whole day was spent sitting around listlessly with other 25-30 year old schoolgirls. At first getting dressed up in a uniform and having my hair and makeup professionally done was exciting, but once that was over, I just had to sit around the set watching more important people do their scenes. We non-stars were treated like cattle, herded around and instructed not to eat until after the stars had done so. Ugh. Blake Lively only wants two carrot sticks, let me eat! The hours dragged on and on, while my fresh makeup faded and hair wilted. Finally, late at night, it was time for my scene. I was the bitchiest of all the bitchy school girls. If they gave awards for that category, I would have won. The director laughed and loved my death stare, making sure I was the main focus in the shot. Brilliant. Good to have the director notice you.
That director was the reason I got an even bigger part on Gossip Girl a couple of months later. I was cast as Bethany, a teenage escort with a heart of gold. As Bethany, I got treated with a little more respect and actually got to eat with the important people. But I felt bad looking at the hungry cattle behind me. I knew their misery and how their stomachs ached for food from Craft Services. I was set to break down the class walls and let them go ahead of me, but the Production Assistant was a fascist dictator who would not allow any deviations from the system. Oh well.
After more hours of waiting around, it was time for my scene. I was dressed to the nines as a glamour-puss escort. I was in the backseat of a limo with another escort and Jack, Chuck’s evil uncle. At our big moment, Serena opened the door and caught Jack in the limo with us. He was prepared, though, and we all greeted her intrusion with more death stares. By that point, the death stare came naturally to me.
In actuality, the two roles, aside from the clothes, were not that different, but at least Bethany got a name! Despite the long, mind-numbingly boring hours and the unfair caste system of the performers, those two small parts allowed me to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). It was an unforgettable experience that I’ll always be able to laugh about. Xoxo.