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Doing the Hollywood Shake

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I've had a baby, I've done a year at the Royal Shakespeare Company and I've got married (in that order) the only thing left to do before I'm 30 is the dreaded pilot season in Los Angeles.

The first decision to make was whether to go out alone or with the family. On the one hand, I can concentrate completely on the task in hand if I'm out there alone. On the other hand I can concentrate so hard that I end up in the deep barrel of depression and loneliness with no true aspect on life and the important things in it. So it was a very easy decision to make.

I'm also very lucky that the new Mrs. Hagan has a lot of avenues open to her out there and that the kids' headmaster let them bail for a month as long as they completed certain work with a tutor while they were away. Our plan is to bring them back like one of those kids on a Channel 4 documentary that can do their masters at the age of 11 (only with a lot better social skills... and friends)

So we are now out here and over the jet lag. After catching up with friends and relatives I had my first meeting a fortnight ago. It was for an American pilot that I cannot talk about in case you steal the idea and make a better version. Now I've been auditioning for various projects in London for over five years now and have had my share of "interesting" auditions. (The most interesting being standing completely naked on a West End stage while four people checked that my anatomy was right for the 'part'. That's for another blog). But walking into my first LA meeting was like doing it for the first time all over again. Fear of the unknown is the worst fear of all. Un-know-aphobia!

The first thing that struck me was the big sign on the door saying "STRICTLY NO ACTORS ALLOWED ON THESE PREMISES WITHOUT APPOINTMENT". This got me frantically double checking that my meeting was in fact on these premises because I'd heard so much about the lax gun laws in the states recently. The second thing that struck me was another big sign with two beautifully sketched (and photocopied) hands shaking each other with a massive blood red cross through them with the words "NO HAND SHAKING!" I immediately thought this was for me personally and felt it was saying "NO MORE FOREIGNERS!"

Once I had got over these two welcoming signs I got into the waiting room which was a valuable asset as they saw me one hour after they had been scheduled to due to "unforeseen pauses". Visions of people playing grandmothers footsteps during each scene with the casting director crept into my head.

Coming out of the meeting alive helped me realise that there wasn't too much of a difference with auditioning in London apart from, they talk slightly differently and they don't want actors storming their offices and holding them to ransom. If you really wanted to scare them into casting you, offer up you hand for a shake.

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