• Chante McCoy

On Dashed Hopes of Being an Actress, and the Consolations of Writing

Over the years, I've entertained fantasies of being "discovered" and sashaying down the red carpet, cameras flashing, in the company of George Clooney, the lead man and co-star in the latest blockbuster. It's a glossy cover life with adoring crowds, black cocktail dress parties, celebrity shoulder-rubbing events, and tummy tucks and Botox....

...a life never meant to be.

Ever since my debut on stage—narrating "The Little Match Girl" for the Christmas assembly—and that moment my mind totally blanked when the audience echoed back a line, I realized my adoring crowds would never materialize. And that's okay. Coming back to reality, I admit I'm uninterested in actually working at becoming a star. Acting lessons? Bah. Singing lessons. Bigger boo. Eating like a rabbit to stay a size four? Don't see that happening. Performing in front of people? Kill me now. I don't want to relive that ninth grade fiasco.

Lack of ambition, a failed venture, and introversion (a little point I failed to mention) are a lethal combination for any acting career. Believe me, I'd hate the crowds and paparazzi anyway.

My only remorse, beyond not hanging with George, is that acting looks like fun. I mean, actors get to ride horses and rock climb. It's part of the job description. They learn how to sword fight, joust, sled race, kick butt with kung fu, waltz, round up cattle, fly around on high wires, build log cabins.  The list goes on. The beauty of it: someone is paying them to pick up these new skills. Oh, and they get to do so at exotic locales. Nice gig, if you can get it.

Instead, I sit, my rump splayed in my chair, staring at a monitor, inside four walls, with a messy desk I should clean. Doesn't seem so glamorous. But, let me assure you, there are compensations. Just have to make a leap in your mind. I do learn about exciting new places ("setting") and fabulous new skills ("character"). I never even have to leave my chair, except for a bite to eat and bathroom breaks. Since an executive producer isn't ponying up the big bucks to help me on this front, I do it on the cheap.

Take a recent short story I wrote: "In the Shadow of Meteora." With Google, Wikipedia, and Dictionary.com, I learned a lot. For example, I can tell you about the town of Kalambaka beneath the Meteora in Greece, the monasteries atop, and the Byzantine basilica in the valley, built in the 12th century and its various renditions since. I now know how to milk a goat and how a Greek woman dressed around the turn of the 20th century. Need a natural-made dye? I have a few recipes. My research also elucidated me on the Eastern Orthodox religion, the vestments of priests, and the architecture of churches. Curious how to ward off the evil eye? I can recommend the charm and prayer to avoid affliction. You never know when these things will come in handy.

Ah, the writing life. A good life, full of adventures, complete with a cup of coffee and bag of salted sunflower seeds. I doubt Meryl Streep would beg to exchange places, but it's the life for me.

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