Being Comfortably Uncomfortable


As actors, I think it’s a universal thing that we are nervous going into any audition. Auditions mean that you might have the chance to live your dream. You might be able to book more parts because of a part you get. And if you are lucky an audition can mean that you can quit your thrival jobs and finally be living as an actor. That pressure can make anyone nervous whether it is a 1 line part or a series regular. We all have tricks that we use to make the nerves go away as much as possible, but I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I am scared out of my mind when I’m walking to the waiting room for an audition.

And of course, we can be put into some crazy situations in the audition room. There’s plenty of times I’ve had to wear things that I’m not comfortable wearing or I have to say something that in my real life I would never say (and it might make me blush). My all time craziest thing I’ve had to do in an audition was during a commercial callback I had to lick a guy’s chest. Thankfully the guy I was auditioning with was nice about it and we ended up having a fun time and laughing after the audition was done (and figuring out how his girlfriend was going to react), but that’s a pretty awkward first meeting with someone.

But I’ve been pretty lucky over the years that most of the time I don’t have to do something too far outside of my comfort zone for an audition. That is, until recently.

As a plus size actress, I’m usually auditioning for frumpy and ugly parts. I normally go into the audition with the most shapeless clothing I own and with very minimal makeup. I’m not dressed like that normally and I love wearing makeup, but we don’t always go into an audition how we would be in real life. I’d love to go in for more “pretty” parts, but that’s not the category I’m in and until either I lose weight or more pretty plus sized parts are written, I have to be ok with this. But at a recent audition, the part called for an ugly and frumpy plus sized actress who would be oiling herself up in a bikini in the scene.

The audition notice specifically said the actors had to be comfortable in a two piece bikini. Not only was I not really comfortable in a bikini, I didn’t even own one! I’ve worn tankinis the past few times I’ve needed to be in a swimsuit, but since this audition notice was so specific I made a shopping trip to find myself a 2 piece bikini.

The shopping took longer than expected (most stores don’t carry plus sized bikinis and I didn’t have time to order one online), but I finally found something that worked. It was interesting that at every store I went to, either they tried to get me to put on a one-piece suit (or a skirted one-piece) or tried to say that maybe something else would work better for me. I’ve got pretty decent confidence in my body, but I could see how someone else would be feeling depressed after the first store and would have given up or just accepted that they were not meant to wear a bikini (but that’s a story for another day). After purchasing the bikini, I kept the tags in expecting to return it after the audition and had it in my room waiting for my audition day.

Jen Levin bikini

On the day of the audition, I wore the bikini as I worked my thrival job (I work from home) and the more I wore it and caught glimpses of myself in a mirror the better I felt! By the time I got into my car for the audition, I felt pretty amazing in a bikini! I did wear a tank top and yoga pants on top for the drive to the audition and the walk through the studio lot, but I was shocked at how ok I felt walking around in a 2 piece swimsuit for the first time ever as an adult.

The audition went fine and the casting directors were great and knew that it was an odd situation for us all. They made me feel really comfortable and I had a fun time in the room. And I knew a lot of the other women auditioning for the part so we were laughing about the situation and helping each other out. I’m lucky that my competition is so supportive and that we all wanted each of us to do the best audition possible. Ironically, the girl who booked the job was the only one who wasn’t plus sized (she was maybe a size 8). I’m ok not booking the job, but I’m so grateful for the experience I had with the audition.

If I never had that audition, I never would have tried on a bikini and found out that I really loved it! Being ok with going out of your comfort zone is something a lot of us are forced into in our auditions. But sometimes being forced into be uncomfortable is the only way to discover that the thing you thought was uncomfortable is actually within your comfort zone and something you are ready to do again!