For years I tried to be the ingenue that everyone saw in me. I put on my little sundress and went to every EPA. And, honestly, I was good at it. But there was something missing.
Then about 6 years ago, I had back to back auditions for Louisa in the Fantasticks and Boy in Henry V. For both, I had the material prepped well and I 'looked the part.' But one of those audition was built on a foundation of authenticity and the other on expectations.
It became clear to me in that moment that (for me) everything I had prepped for the Louisa audition was purely about fitting myself into a preconceived assumption of what casting was "looking for." From my headshot to my clothing to the way I was carrying myself; it was only about booking a gig. While the Henry V audition had been prepped from a true sense of self. I was walking in wearing My clothes, with materials that felt authentic to Me, and it was Me saying hello as I walked in. This was probably the moment that I decided to come out as trans within the business.
It was when I decided that radical authenticity in my life and career was more important than booking one specific gig. I was terrified that it would mean I was no longer "right" for anything. I was so wrong.
Losing one's true self underneath layers of expectations, stereotypes, and niches isn't exclusive to the trans experience. Radical authenticity is very attractive in everyone. Embracing the parts of myself that made me "wrong" for a lot of roles actually made me infinitely more castable. Discovering my truth and the decision to bring that into audition rooms was terrifying. It was also the best thing I could have done for my career and my art. It can be for you too.
As I have worked with others, I have discovered that we are all held back by assumptions and expectations. Paradigms so ingrained that we can't even see them. Breaking those down is how you go from booking (or not booking) occasional gigs to building a career.
No one is a blank canvas. If we all stopped trying to erase our truest selves and instead used them as the foundation of our work then imagine how rich and truly diverse our art form could become.