Senior talents in show business
A senior citizen looking to improve her income has few options. The easiest, but not necessarily the surest, way is to be a “talent” for a modeling agency. Granting that one has got what it takes—beauty of face (not exactly a guarantee); a captivating smile; the mental aptitude for memorizing lines; steely nerves; some thickness of face; and a lot of luck—it is not such a bad idea to be a “talent,” especially if the main event of your daily existence is opening the refrigerator door and checking for interesting leftovers from last night’s meal.
The first step is to go for a VTR (video tape recording), a term that you will constantly be hearing, at your mother studio for its files. This is done every now and then to make sure that the studio has the correct image of you when it makes a presentation to the casting agency. As soon as you are given a date for the shoot, you can no longer go for a quick restyling of your hair or for a rearrangement of your somewhat lumpy face.
During the VTR session you will state your name, age, and height. You will recite all these without losing that big, fat smile on your face. Then you will turn to your right and slowly look back at the camera (smiling), and you will turn to your left and slowly turn your head to face the camera (still smiling). You will go through these paces each time you go for a VTR, and you will be going to a lot of them until you start feeling bored, or wishing you had accepted the invitation to lunch with that most unattractive neighbor of yours just for the food. I am not a smiling person, so my cheeks ache from straining long-unused muscles each time I go to these VTR sessions. It can be rough.
The casting agency sends notices by text to your mother agency, with listed requirements for talents to be sent for a VTR to the caster’s address. For example: grandmother, 60 to 70 years old, strict-looking but with a sweet face. How that is possible perhaps not even God knows, but you continue reading to see if you will fit in there, somehow. Don’t get too excited. With your luck, about 10 “grandmothers” will show up and by your own reckoning, they are not even a mile near the requirements, so you thank the good Lord for endowing you with a reasonable personality that you could put to good use right now.
To be a talent, one needs a lot of guts, patience, determination, and desperation for the 2-second appearance on TV, to be able to move on easily from one rejection after another. This is a job for the stout-hearted, not for wimps or sissies.
If chosen in the final casting, the talents are presented to the Client who makes the final decision. By the product you can already guess if the Client prefers locals or mestiza types. If the scenario is for a whole family—father, mother, brats, pets, grandparents—a whole bunch of people will show up there waiting with you. Amid the tension, the crowd and the noise, you’ll be thankful you once enrolled in a meditation class, the fruits of which you need now to take you to some peaceful, faraway place.
In the final casting stage, there could be a VTR and a workshop. It could take a whole afternoon until early or late evening, with no pay. Usually, lolos and lolas are just extras so that could be good because the contract will be “pay agad” and you go home with the loot after the shoot. If you are the main performer, the pay is better but the wait is longer.
That’s it, folks. Welcome to show business.
Shirley Wilson de las Alas, 78, says she is mostly alone in her room thinking or reading but that she loves her quiet life.
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