An Actors Life For Me
And so I am back in London, back to my London Thespian life with a bang! Back down to Ground Zero! The life of an actor is a tough life. A hard life, a boring life, a cold life, a monotonous life and an endlessly weary life.
By that last sentence, I mean that an actor’s life can wear a human being down, down to the very nub of his / her intellectual and emotional existence.
Though there are certain exceptions to the rule, nevertheless anyone embarking upon the life and career of a professional actor must first make sure (and doubly sure) that they possess skin of steel. Not only that but an actor must also come to cheerfully accept the fact that the very concept of ‘failure’ is in fact (if it is anything) not a negative concept but instead, a motivating virtue. Yes, the life of an actor may appear to be a life of perpetual drudgery, of ‘hand to mouth’ drudgery but once one has realised and accepted this fact, he or she will find that life in the gutter with his or her fellow square pegs will very quickly turn the ever valiant professional “Thesp” into a proud member of a very large artistic underclass.
And so I am back on the Green! Back on the Market!
And no sooner had I performed my first audition after getting back to Blighty, I was informed by the so-called panel watching me that as much as they would dearly like to employ me the sad fact is/was that they couldn’t due to my ethnicity. Readers, I can almost feel your outrage (hopefully outrage and not indifference) at this typical 21st-century attitude. Yes, the acting profession is now horribly infected with the disease of political correctness and therefore determined to present themselves as beautifully diverse theatre companies but they are now happily and openly discriminating against all things Caucasian. As a result of this, everyone and everything from universities, businesses, theatre, TV and circus companies are no longer wasting their time rewarding or employing individuals on the basis of their talent or achievement.
Instead, employment is being bestowed upon certain individuals all in the name of “Redressing the Balance!”
In other words, out goes talent and ability and in comes the politics of gender, colour and ethnicity.
Where once class and colour dictated one’s lot in life now it is gender and colour. Earlier this week I was to read in the papers how various so-called traditional ‘Hall of Fame’ rooms and buildings at various universities were now being put under pressure by various political organisations to remove the pictures of certain non-politically correct high achievers such as Cecil Rhodes and Winston Churchill. The complaint being that there were far too many Caucasians on display and in order not to offend the sensibilities of minorities their pictures should be removed and their achievements hidden.
Of course, this naturally incensed me and after being told by the director of a certain theatre company that he couldn’t employ me because his funding depended on not employing actors of my ethnicity.
I asked him why he had created his company in the first place. Imagine my surprise when he informed me that he believed that theatre should highlight the injustices regularly visited on the common man. “People who are held back in life”, he told me, “are not properly represented in the theatre.” To which I replied that surely he was adding to this injustice by discriminating against me and also by supporting those organisations that think that they can redress the balance by erasing the past. To which he replied, “Hmm, I respect your opinion but I can already see that you have a conflict with my theatre company.” And at that, I had rather happily talked myself out of a job.
I can remember years ago when I was a teenager watching a rather patronising TV commercial for Coca-Cola where a whole gang of beautiful looking teenagers ascended a hill somewhere in the world to sing at the top of their voices – “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”, etc. Not content with taking over the markets of lesser countries, Coca-Cola (as well as various other American corporate behemoths), were easing their consciences by showing how gorgeously diverse their product was.
Years later I was to become the “Chino man”, the poor man’s Mr Bean all over Italy.
Yes, I had been cast as the quirky Chino root beer character who was suddenly on every billboard and TV screen in both Italy and Sicily. Imagine my relief that after being chased down an alley one Saturday night by a mass of hysterical ‘foreign’ teenagers that I was not to be beaten up but instead be asked to give my autograph. Yes, if I have one claim to fame it is that I was once famous all over Italy…
And if I have another it is that I once played a paparazzi photographer on the HBO TV series Sex in the City.
That said, while I might hate being discriminated against, it is actually because of discrimination that I am regularly pigeon-holed and cast as either Mr Cheeky Chappy for a TV commercial or Mr Sleaze for a comedy sitcom. Yes, discrimination can sometimes work for and against us.
Often I am asked by an actor of ethnicity (Asian or African American) how they would be cast in either Britain and America. My answer is simple though soul-destroying: “What would you prefer, rapist or terrorist?” Though having said this there is now a gentleman storming his way through the theatre scene in Britain as the leading playwright of the day. His name is Roy Williams and thanks to giving up a lucrative acting career playing rapists and terrorists, he decided to turn his hand to writing and thus within a couple of years you could hardly get in his apartment for BAFTA’s, Evening Standard Theatre Awards and commissions galore. He might have looked like your regular British rapist but behind that rough exterior, he had a voice and the writing talent to go with it.
And so, as I sit in Costa Coffee writing this column, I look ahead with a positive air.
In a month and a half’s time, I will be back in the United States at the Hollywood Fringe Theatre Festival giving my all as a transgender boxing commentator. A year ago, a colleague and I wrote a stage play about all things to do with both boxing and transgender, (yes, I know it’s a rather bizarre mix). But then as my dear old dad used to tell me, ‘life is a rich tapestry’ as well as a bizarre old mix.
If it is all things to do with gender and ethnicity that now dictate policy in the acting world, well as the old saying goes – ‘If you can’t beat them join them!’.
Which funnily enough suddenly makes me glance up at the flat screen TV in the local Costa running a story on BBC News 24 about a woman in the US who was born Caucasian but instead decided to live as an African American until she was “outed” by an African American College for misrepresenting herself. Apparently, she claims that she is part of a new human concept called being “Trans-racial!” Sadly, the consequences of this particular lifestyle that she has “chosen” has led to her losing her job, her college place, her friends and her partner. She has accused her former friends of discrimination; her friends have accused her of living a lie and being untrustworthy.
Either way (and I’m saying nothing) it does show the bizarre times that we live in, the interesting times and also, if anything, this would certainly make a great stage play and one that I would happily hassle my agent to get me a part in.
Also by Lincoln Hudson:
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