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  • Writer's picturePippa

Landing the Role

Against all odds, a total fluke, and completely unexpected is just the way I like my roles. Teresa was just that. My first ever named and fairly major role.

It was word of mouth which led me to my first audition as Teresa. I was having private acting tuition at the FCAI in Oshiwara with the little money saved from my work as a dancer. I'd barely had more than two lessons with my tutor when I brought the audition script with me in a total stress about how to memorise a totally different language. It was during my training here that I learnt not to worry about the Hindi, to learn only the meaning and let it flow, a technique of learning the lines as a rhythm of meaning even though I felt my mouth was throwing out gibberish to begin with. And even now I have slip ups and can't get my tongue around certain sentences. But it was a step in the right direction at the time, and one which gave me a billion times more confidence in little old easy peasy English! I started getting lazy - not needing to learn English lines, they just came out right if I knew the general direction of the scene, it's amazing how the mind can be tricked. Try it for yourself next time you want to learn something new, pick something twice as hard to work on; jump a few music grades and push yourself to learn those songs, or learn how to back flip instead of walkover and then come back to it. You'll be a pro. Anyway, the following day I went back for a second attempt at Teresa, this time twice as confident and twice as chilled.

It really helps to have a personal tutor for foreign language projects, someone who whilst everyone else is busy can sit with you and discuss the hidden meanings behind the certain word choices in the script. It's easy to adapt a character in, out, behind and upside down the lines when it's your own language, but attempting another language with only the help of say google isn't going to get you very far when searching for the hidden clues for your character.

And if it's Bollywood, or Hollywood for that matter, then honestly - nobody will have the time to break it down for you the way you want. If you don't figure it out, its your reputation on the line, not anyone else's. And typically as an actor, as a face of the entire show or movie, you'll definitely get the rep for other peoples mistakes too. Although it works both ways; receiving compliments on looks when if you were really honest - you had no say in costume, makeup or lighting. But hey, never discredit, it's a little genetics too baby. The joys of working on-screen, team work to make the dream work!

I was called in for multiple auditions following this, all with different casting assistants, in different outfits, different hairstyles, different emotions. Every possible variation we could come up with in my classes was brutally tested in front of that casting camera. And quite frankly I was glad of the experience.

I was told multiple times I gave too much, gave too less, didn't quite understand the character. I was told my outfit was bad, my hair was wrong, my body was a little fat, my cheeks too chubby, my hair not long enough, my shoulders too broad. Each time falling a little more head over heels in love with little miss unreachable, untouchable and impossible Teresa. I'd sit on an evening staring up at the stars praying tomorrow was going to be the day, tomorrow would bring out the moments they want to see, tomorrow i'll reach her. And then bingo, I was called into the office to meet Mr Amitabh Raina, the legend himself. Creative Producer, Fiction Head, The Boss, The One. The Only.

But what nobody tells us budding actors is that going for a meeting, passing the audition isn't actually securing the job, to secure the job both sides have to agree on a budget, and that was something I knew nothing about. Sitting in the office with my manager was probably the most terrifying experience I've ever had. Knowing I was so in love with this character, that i'd spent the last month focusing on her, becoming her, giving my all for her. We couldn't let it slip, we couldn't put a foot wrong otherwise that was it, it would all have been for nothing and I would have to find a way to let her go. Not to mention I had never worked as an actress before, I had no idea what the going rate was for a fairly major but not exactly lead role. Luckily I wasn't facing it alone and after the hand shake between my manager and the executive producer, and my pen to that paper, I knew it! July 2017 was my lucky month!

I was holding my face straight, holding my arms down, holding myself still in the cab home, playing it cool. But the minute I shut the door behind me I screamed, and jumped like a lunatic and ran around my apartment in hysterics. It was such a high, my first named role, my first really real role, my first ever big one and it was all mine. Teresa was all mine. I sat with a drink overlooking the sea, thanking my lucky, twinkling stars. Bring it on, let the hard work commence!

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