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Monologue for an actress.
People always want to know what it’s like to be me. I don’t blame them.
I could tell them about the paparazzi surprising me in the ladies room at Spago’s or weekends at Brad and Angelina’s or being drunk -- slightly drunk -- at the Golden Globes, but what they really want to know about is the craft. I mean, that’s what I do, isn’t it? That’s who I am.I’m the Goddess with a thousand faces -- that’s Us Weekly talking, not me. I’m the shy Kansas farm girl who finds an axe murderer in her closet. I’m the marathon runner with a congenital heart condition. I’m the secretary of state in six-inch stilettos. I’m every boy’s wet dream and every girl’s role model.
And you want to know how I do it, don’t you?
Well, first the Goddess with a thousand faces starts every year by going face shopping. Which damsel will it be this year? The love interest in this tawdry re-make? Or the sweet-faced ingenue of this lame sequel?
You might think all this face shopping, all this wading through unreadable scripts would get lonely. But no. I always have company.
On this shoulder I’ve got Elizabeth Taylor, screen siren from the past, bloated apparition from the present. On the other shoulder: Meryl Streep, four time Oscar winner, eternal darling of jaded critics everywhere. And these ladies do not lack for opinions.
Liz always chimes in first, tugging at my ear with that rasp that drips like molasses. “Don’t bother reading the scripts, darling” she says. “Just count your lines and count your close-ups. Sign up for the diva who spends the most time under the spotlight. Because you know that’s what you want.”
It’s almost spooky how Liz knows me. She knows that I’m here because I want to be loved. I want to be adored. I crave the world’s attention and I need to be smothered by it until I can’t pee in a public toilet anymore. That’s who I am. I’m daddy’s little girl dancing in front of the camcorder. I’m the fifth-grader lobbying for a jucier role in the nativity scene: “I mean, seriously, doesn’t this Mary have hobbies or a lover or a wicked stepmother or something?” Yeah, that’s me.
But Meryl reminds me that I’m more than that. I am an actress, thank you very much. A real one. I’ve studied Adler, Meisner, Stanislavski, Stasberg. I’ve done Chekov, Shakespeare, O’Neil and Ibsen. I don’t do upper frontal nudity and I don’t play sidekick to furry puppets. Why?
“Because you’re an actress” Meryl cries. “Prove it. Do something an actress does. Anything. An East London accent. An East Jersey accent. A speech impediment. A limp, a cough, a layup. Anything! Get out of yourself. Show them you can slip out of your skin and into somebody else’s. Show them you can really act.”
But can I? What if Meryl’s wrong? And what if Liz is wrong too?
What If I can’t act and I don’t deserve to be loved? What if I’ve been lying to you and lying to myself? Liz and Meryl can’t help me with this one.
So I guess I’ll have to prove myself, won’t I? I guess I’ll have to make you love me and respect me again and again. Even after the Oscar and the adoring cover of People and all the red carpets and the entourage and the fans. And yeah, that gets to be like a second job, all that self-doubt and self-hatred and proving who I am and making you like me over and over again. And God, it gets draining and difficult and lonely and angry and sad.
But, yeah. That’s it. That’s how I do it.