Looking around, I felt a bit intimidated
by the over-priced, over-hyped, and shiny sports cars parked next to my run
down, rusty, hand-me-down car. Though the people inside would never know what
car I drive, the contrast in social classes was already blatantly obvious.
Shutting the car’s door behind me, I inhaled the freezing, icy air through my
nose and a rush of energy flew down my spine. For some reason this tricked me
into feeling calm for the next few minutes and I managed to walk the short
stretch from my car to the front doors of the building.
The space was not quite what I had
imagined. I had pictured a small, modern studio with bright colors, young
smiling professionals, and a few lighting lamps and fans sitting around. A
place where people feel welcomed. Before me I really saw a large, bland space
with some industrial lights set up here and there. The concrete walls and
floors were not so much frightening as they were depressing. In general, the
whole room glowed with a grey tint that made everything seem a bit somber. In
contrast with the setting, the crowd of girls to my left, waiting to audition,
was quietly whispering amongst themselves, clearly not shy or scared of
anything. From the left side of the building a strong mix of fruity and floral perfumes
came creeping over to mix with the faint Clorox smell left over from the
cleaning crew the night before.
I assumed that I was supposed to go over
to the crowd of girls, and when I approached the group, nobody reacted to my
presence. I took this as a good sign, and quickly took a seat. The clock
hanging above a doorway told me I still had about ten minutes until the
auditions were scheduled to begin. So I pulled my phone and headphones from my back
pocket and put on some music to pass the time and calm my nerves. I crossed my
legs and sat back in my chair, as I let my mind wander. I saw a loose thread
hanging from the bottom of my shirt, but when I tried to pull it out the thread
kept pulling through and through. I quickly realized that touching the thread
was a mistake because my shirt was now awkwardly tight by my right hip. Great,
another blemish to make me stand apart from the other girls. I decided to
simply stop fidgeting and crossed my fingers in my lap.
Slowly I watched as girl after girl
walked through the door and back out; each one looking more satisfied than the
first. An hour later I saw the familiar woman step from the doorway.
“Weiber, Christina?” She looks up from
her clipboard and sees that I’m the last one there.
“Yep, that’s me.” I respond with a smile.
The smile wasn’t reciprocated.
She led me into the audition room, and I
saw before me the standard set up. The recruiters sat behind a heavy wooden
table, and there were a couple of bright white lights set up around the room.
They each had tall coffee cups before them, and looked like they were there for
serious business. I was taken aback by the intense lighting and faces before
“Good afternoon, Ms. Weiber, how are you
today?” Said the man in the middle. All three of the people sitting behind the
table were dressed in very professional clothes. The two men were surprisingly
wearing new, shiny suits and the woman was dressed in a form-fitting, black
dress and modest heels.
“I’m great, thank you for asking. I’m
very happy to be here.” I started to hand my résumé over, and the lady who
escorted me in leapt up to deliver it to the recruiters. I could have easily
done the simple task myself, but nobody commented on it so I pushed it out of
It felt like they were a hundred feet
away from me, but in reality, the table was about twelve feet from me. Once all
three of them got a copy of my papers, the man in the middle introduced them
“I am Alex Minkle,” he motioned to the
left and then right, “this is Trey Greenwich and Alice Krin. If you could give
us a minute or two to look over your files, please.” I nodded silently.
It took them about thirty seconds to leaf
through the sheets I gave them and then they huddled together and started
whispering. With his elbows resting on the table, Alex Minkle chuckled behind
his hand and glanced up at me for a second. I couldn’t know for sure what they
were saying, but I didn’t want to look at them. Looking down, I still felt eyes
“Alright, Ms. Weiber, can you tell us a
little bit about your background? Where were you raised?”
I had never heard this question at an
audition before. I wondered what the point of the questions was but I decided
not to question what they were saying, I mean, they are in charge here.
“I grew up by 49th and Polk
St. I still live there though.”
“Uh huh…” Responded the woman. She seemed
a bit discomforted. I already suspected why, but I didn’t want to let myself
believe it. “What do you do to make a living?”
“Well, I’m taking classes at the
community college right now, so I don’t have time to work.”
“Then how do you provide for yourself?”
She asked in a snarky tone.
I was starting to hesitate now. For a
simple television advertisement, they were asking really specifically personal
questions. I didn’t want to offend the woman by not answering, so I didn’t.
“I live with my parents.” I responded
They exchanged glances momentarily and
then stared straight at me. Their eyes seemed to bore holes in me wherever they
looked. I felt the spotlight on me but not in the way I like. I expected this
to be a regular audition, but suddenly the room felt colder to me and their
faces seemed harder.
“…Really? And what do your parents do for
a living?” Continued the woman.
“Please excuse me, but would you like to
hear the song? I don’t understand why these things matter right now and I don’t
feel comfortable sharing all of this information with you.”
She smiled and looked in my eyes with a
look that frightened me. “We are simply-“
The Greenwich guy decided to interrupt
her and speak for the first time that afternoon, “Christina, we need to know if
you are fit to represent this company, don’t you see? We need someone who looks
professional and experienced.”
“Alright, but you have my résumé right in
front of you. Do you believe I am unqualified?”
“That’s not what I mean.” He spoke
slowly, like he was explaining something simple to a child. “What I mean to say
is that we can’t let just anyone off the streets work for us.”
This really got me. I finally saw the
real reason behind all of their questions. I thought that by this point in my
life, once I had such a strong résumé, none of this stuff would happen to me. I
remember when I went to my first audition for Macy’s and all the girls around
me were white, rich, and from private schools. This conversation here was
starting off the same way that it did with the women at Macy’s, and I was not
eager to let it keep going. I took a breath and tried to not say anything too
“Off. The. Streets.” I repeated.
“Well, you know what I mean,” he
responded, “You people usually bring some sort of trouble, and we like to run a
“‘You people’? What do you mean, ‘you
people’. What’s different about me?”
“Christina, don’t pretend that you don’t
see this.” Of course, he was referring to my skin tone, but I refused to give
in. I’ve had this conversation with too many people before, and this was the
“Mr. Greenwich. Sir. I first of all,
would like to thank you for your wise words. I realize that you and your value
the face of your company more than life itself, but I too, value my face. I
hope I don’t offend you like you’ve offended me, but ‘you people’ are the only
people causing problems for anyone right now.” They looked at me in shock. “You
see me as a black lady. I see myself as a strong, talented woman who is
passionate about preforming arts. You see as the face of crime and property, nothing
more. You now know where I live, and for some reason, have now deemed me unfit to
work for you. So, I thank you for your time and attention, but I can’t work for
you. I pray that you will change your view of people soon, because you are
living in a dark, secluded, world.”