It happened to me. Watching Robert E. Kelly attempt to continue his live interview on the BBC reminded me of my own work slash parenting nightmare. I felt his pain.
It was a Thursday. In the afternoon. I was at an audition. I'd worked hard on the material. I was memorized. This was a commercial that was in my wheelhouse; a consumer addressing the camera directly. I was even auditioning for one of my favorite casting directors who always put me at ease.
One of the benefits of being an actor is a flexible schedule. When my daughters were young I was able to be at home with them most of the time. When I had auditions or booked a job my husband or his parents were able to rearrange their schedules and help.
For this particular audition my husband had a work commitment he couldn't change and his parents were out of town. So I had an "audition buddy" with me. Her "job" was to sit in the waiting room at the casting office while I went in to the room (a few feet away) where the audition would take place. I gave her explicit instructions to stay in her chair and wait for me. Most on-camera auditions take 5 minutes.
In the midst of my direct address to the camera in the corner of my eye I saw the door to the audition room open. In the corner of my eye I saw my three year old daughter swing into the room as she hung on to the door-knob with a big smile on her face.
I was mortified, stopped reciting my lines and wanted to curl up in a ball and die. The casting director was incredibly kind and patient as was James Menendez the BBC presenter when he stated the obvious, "I think one of your children has just walked in".
The casting director even offered to let my daughter stay in the room. Unfortunately in that moment it didn't matter that the casting director was gracious. All I could focus on was my career flashing before my eyes.
It seems like that is exactly what Mr. Kelly was thinking as he closed his eyes and tried to continue talking about very serious things. Like I said, I felt his pain.
The viral video is a wonderful display of humanity. It illustrates that no matter how hard we try to play multiple roles sometimes those roles will crash into each other and we can do nothing but laugh. The response to the video represents that many people can relate and empathize with Kelly and his wife who desperately tried to salvage the disaster.
The video also exposed a prejudice or bias toward interracial couples when many people commenting on the video assumed the Asian woman was the children's nanny instead of Kelly's wife. When I was in the fourth grade a White classmate said, "If you marry a White guy then people will think you are the nanny."
I married a White man. People have assumed I was the nanny. My classmate was right.
And I can't help but wonder how the video would have been received if it was a mother being interviewed rather than a father. Would a woman be criticized for ignoring her children or trying to work from home? Would she be championed or vilified?
The video reminds me to not take myself too seriously. I wish I could have had more of a sense of humor at that audition. I could have spared myself some misery. I hope Mr. Kelly and his wife see the humor and find comfort that they are not alone.
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