Taking Center Stage

Patricia Steffy as Kate McAlister in "Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths."

Patricia Steffy as Kate McAlister in “Dating in LA and Other Urban Myths.”

I grew up doing theater, and I performed as a dancer (at least periodically) up until about five/six years ago, so you would think that being in front of the camera for the web series would not be a terrifying prospect. Ha! So wrong.

My performing background has always run somewhat in contradiction to my personality (those of you who know me know that I’m not good at being the center of attention). I loved company work. I loved rehearsals.  I loved the community that was often built around the projects. But I never craved the actual performance. There’s no denying that there is a rush for me when I’m performing, but I find the stress leading into it tends to make the experience seem more death-defying than life-affirming. I often joked that if I could rehearse a piece and never perform it, I would be perfectly content. Strange, I know.

Flash forward to a couple of months ago when I realized that I was going to be in front of a camera for the first time in years. I’m not ashamed to admit that I experienced my fair share of panic. We have such a talented and accomplished group of actors working on this series, and I was so worried that I would be letting them down somehow.  All these people (cast and crew) were giving up their time and energy into making this project, and I was determined to be as prepared as possible.

I won’t lie—I also took a look in the mirror and thought, “this is a face/body of a writer.”  That’s still true. It’s not like I magically transformed. I’m still me. But before I plunged headlong into crash diets and emergency plastic surgery, I took a deep breath and accepted that for what it was. There will be Internet comments about my appearance. That’s just the way it goes. Frankly, that would be true even if I transformed into a supermodel.  Kate is a real person. She isn’t a photoshopped magazine centerfold; she’s a woman going about her life and that means fewer Barre Method classes and more take-out than she would like.  Let’s just say, we have a lot in common.

I’m pretty sure my heart skipped when I heard Danielle Turchiano yell, “Action!” for the first time. And the second time. And the third time. But eventually, I started to breathe.

Despite all the concerns, talent- and looks-wise, I can honestly say it was a terrific experience. The thing they don’t tell you about working with great, experienced actors is that you learn and grow with them. Each and every one of our actors was so incredibly supportive that I can’t imagine a better way to develop the craft.  And eventually, I’m going to stop suggesting that my close-ups aren’t necessary, or that they should be shot with a Vaseline covered lens. Probably.

I’m looking forward to going forward with the project—not just because I want all of you to see this work, but because I can’t wait to work with our team again (cast and crew).  And while I will always be a little nervous when I step on set, the next time I think the panic will be replaced (or at least tempered) by the excitement of really bringing this character to life.

 

Tamara Taylor, Patricia Steffy, Kris Polaha, Lesley Fera and Jen Lilley during the cast photo shoot.

Who wouldn’t love working with these guys? And surprisingly, none of us ended up in the pool during the photo call. I know. I’m shocked, too.

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