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So This Is What I'm Doing with My Life Now

Auditioning for adverts in an attempt to replace my soul with rent money.

by Melissa Stetten
20 December 2012, 8:00am

Every model and actor who isn't yet rich enough to have bookmarked secretly wants to book a national commercial. This is because they usually pay tens of thousands of dollars, which, for me, would sufficiently pay for therapy and prescriptions since I don’t have health insurance. (Go fuck yourself, America!)

On top of that, there's the fact that booking commercials seems ridiculously easy – people often think 'Hey, I could totally be that girl who appears to have achieved a near-maniacal level of happiness purely by petting a kitten and being within gurning distance of a bag of Fancy Feast cat food.' Well yeah, sure you could, but the only way you'd come out of it with your professional dignity intact is if you could stare your parents in the eye at Christmas and tell them that yes, you always did envisage playing air guitar on soda cans with a CGI cat. Mother, the show must go on.

The audition process for commercials is absolutely ridiculous. I loathed the first few years of auditions. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable, which is why I never booked one until recently. It was, glamorously enough, an audition for some almond butter company. The notes in the audition email said the casting people were looking for a: “stylish yet sophisticated, hip but not too hipster brunette with stunning features and piercing eyes, tall, slim, but not too athletic or curvy – Zooey Deschanel types.” What the fuck? That statement contradicts itself at least three times. The wardrobe notes went on to imagine a model with “her own style, heels, girl-next-door, maybe a dress but not required”. So, what you’re saying is I should wear the same jeans I’ve been wearing for weeks, and one of my $90 white T-shirts that I have no idea why I bought? Easy enough.

I arrive at the studio and on the door is a sign that says, “QUIET - AUDITIONS”. I open the door slowly and walk across the room to the sign-in table. My boots are making the loudest noise I’ve ever heard. Everyone turns around and looks at me like I’m a horrible person, or Ke$ha, everyone hates her as much as me, right? I’m not entirely sure she wasn’t conceived by a human man and a female gremlin. Her voice sounds like Lisa Simpson gargling cum and piss. I wish she would just go away.

After interrupting this super important audition I sit down in the row of chairs and wait with four other girls. Usually there is a separate room for auditions but this one is in an open studio. The next girl is called and I watch her audition to get an idea of what humiliating thing I’ll be doing. They explain to her that she’ll be holding a jar of the butter and a stick of celery – she has to dip the celery into the jar and take a bite of it. But each time she brings the stick of celery closer to her mouth, it disappears! What a twist. I watch this poor girl go through the routine twice. All the girls waiting have experienced the embarrassment of another girl watching them and judging them. Luckily, I’ve learned to ignore it.

After waiting 20 minutes, my name is called. I walk up to the white wall and stand on a piece of blue tape, give my award-winning fake smile to the two guys and pretend like I’m one of those super bubbly girls. I'm busy hating myself when the guys hand me a jar of peanut butter with a plastic spoon. “Just pretend like the spoon is the celery and dip it into the jar three times.” Easy enough. “But each time you go for a bite, it disappears, so act surprised and confused – but still happy and pretty.” I’ve had far too many “so this is what I’m doing with my life now” moments, and this is one of them. I’m tired, I forgot to eat breakfast, it’s raining and that morning my boyfriend told me he’s moving to London in six weeks to work on a movie. I’m really fucking emotional and not in any mood to be pretending that invisible vegetables are outwitting my neanderthal appetite.

I finish the audition and can tell pretty much immediately that there is no way in fucking Hell they are hiring me. I feel like they could see my sarcasm and cynicism through my body language. I tried really hard to hide it, but today was already a bust. I'd had another audition earlier that day where I had to say, “This sweater feels so soft!” over and over again – the first time "flirtatiously", the second time "excitedly" and the third time like I was really shy and talking to my crush for the first time. Who talks about sweaters the first time they meet someone?

After my shitty day of auditions, I watch some TV and see the car commercial I’m in. I feel proud of myself for booking a national commercial. All the hours spent pretending I’m jogging in an attempt to sell someone else's tampons or jumping up and down like I’m having the best drunken night of my life have finally paid off. I’ll make some decent money, but I can’t help worry about what I’m going to do next. I’m not sure how much more auditioning I can handle mentally, or how long I want to obsess over my physical appearance. I’ll continue to audition until my brain explodes, I guess. It’s hard to feel like a real person when directors are pushing you to see how silly you’ll get for a year's rent.

Follow Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaStetten

Photography courtesy of Illustrations by Sam Taylor. Follow him on Twitter @sptsam or visit his website at

Previously: Why No One Should Ever Date a Male Model