From an Actor to an Actor

Pilot season.

Depending on how many pilot seasons you’ve lived through, that phrase can bring you excitement or anxiety. I remember when I first moved to LA in 2003, and started as an extra, I would hear about this thing called, “Pilot Season.” It’s where people would get their big break. Actors would fly in from all over the country for this thing called, “Pilot Season.” I was told even if you didn’t have a big agent, you definitely were going to get an audition for a pilot. Whaaaa?! This is easier than I thought! I was so excited. My first pilot season went by and I didn’t get one audition. Hmmm… how does this work? Next Pilot Season comes around and I got one audition. It was for a print ad, which isn’t really an audition. It’s more just showing up. I still don’t get it. As time went on and I made more connections, because like they say, it’s not what you know but who you know, I started to get more auditions. Now here I am, eleven years later in Hollywood,  getting ready to give it another go. Now when I think of Pilot Season, it tends to bring more anxiety than anything. I can sometimes have four auditions in a day. Four different characters for four different shows. A day in the life of an actor during Pilot Season may look like this: Wake up early after studying your lines all night to get to your first audition, where you play a District Attorney for a new cop show at NBC. Then drive over to CBS Radford for the quirky next door neighbor in a multi-cam sitcom. After that, drive over the hill to Sony in Culver City at 4:30pm for the one where you’re a doctor with twelve pages of medical dialogue. Then finish it off by going back over the hill to Warner Brothers at the last minute because you just got a call for this pilot about a serial killer and they are only seeing people today by 6pm. When you get home and get ready for your next day of pilot season, you can’t help but think about what you would have done differently in your auditions today or what you could have done better if you just had a little bit more time to prepare. Or a lot bit more time to prepare. Then you wait to get a call from your agent for feedback. You gave it your all. You are sleep deprived, hungry and nervous, because the pilot you really want you feel you didn’t do your best in. You were kind of excited about the quirky neighbor one, but you noticed that there was a “name actor” on the sign in sheet, so of course they’re probably gonna give it to her. More often than not, you will get a call (most likely an email) from your agent that says something like, “They liked you but are not going to move forward on this one.”  Or “You did good, but you’re not quite what they are looking for.” Or “They made an offer to the name actor.”

Dang it.

On to the next audition and next audition. Next thing you know, you get a call back! Yay! Then you get a call from your agent, saying “They want to test you!”  Whaaaaaat?! This could be the one! It’s down to you and three other actors. You know you did great, especially at the end where you improvised that one line and got a big laugh in the room. They love you. They have to pick you. Then once again you get a call from your agent, “They went with someone else.”  Pilot Season is the time of year where we work our butts off, make ourselves so vulnerable and get our hopes up. It’s also the time of year where we hear and receive the most rejection. We hear “no” way more than we do “yes”. Emotionally, this is the hardest part of the year for me. I want to take this time to encourage you actors. I want to say that I know how you feel. It’s tough, but you can and will get through this. Keep working hard and keep getting your hopes up, because one day you will hear a yes, and it will all be worth it! Remember the dream you had in your heart when you first decided you wanted to be an actor. Remember how naive, how excited and how unjaded you were. Hold on to that. This is all part of our story. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Just breathe and take it one day at a time. Or one audition at a time. And if you are in the place where you are frustrated, because it seems you can’t get any auditions, I want to encourage you to keep hustling. Keep going to acting class, workshops and networking opportunities. You never know. Today could be the day where you make the relationship with someone who sees in you what you see in yourself… oh and she just so happens to be casting a new movie. You never know what the future holds, unless you are a psychic or future teller person. In that case you should probably just set up a future telling business and do that. I hear there is good money in it. As for me, I have my first pilot audition of 2014 today. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll be one and done this year. Haha! You never know. This could be the one. My life could change tomorrow, but if it doesn’t I will keep dreaming and keep going.


32 Comments

  1. Erica Jones, January 28, 2014:

    I admire your tenacity. The thing about acting and Hollywood is that it seems so arbitrary who becomes successful. My husband and I are big fans of yours and went to see you when you were here in Denver. Best comedy show we saw last year – hands down. You could easily carry your own tv show or movie for that matter. I would watch it. But 11 years later you’re still headed to auditions. Keep at it, girl! They’ll come to their senses soon enough. I’ll be on the edge of my couch watching it all!

  2. Jamie, January 28, 2014:

    I absolutely believe in you, and I hope this is your year. It’s my year of change, so let’s do it together! Your positive energy, beautiful personality, and sheer talent will knock the socks off anyone with good sense! If not, pick up your crown, shake the dust off your feet, and walk away like a boss to the next audition… And blow them away. Tia Jamie ;)

  3. Emilio Rivera, January 28, 2014:

    Very Good My Friend ,,Break a Leg,Have A Good Time with it..will RT this

  4. Elsy, January 28, 2014:

    I loved you in Enough Said and I’ve seen clips of your stand up, hope to one day see you in person and more on the big and little screen :)

  5. Lisa, January 28, 2014:

    So encouraged…thank you! Go get it girl…cause with God all things are possible!

  6. B. T. Vargas, January 28, 2014:

    Good luck, God Bless, and Break a leg. Thanks for being an inspiration. Peace.

  7. David Espinoza, January 29, 2014:

    Wow thank you so much for this! I am a 24 year old actor that just started pursuing my dream along some close friends of.mine and this is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Angela :)

  8. Ellie Mae, January 29, 2014:

    Hope you get your own show some day. You are too funny!

  9. Chris E., January 29, 2014:

    Come to Nashville, Tennessee!!!! Zanies would love you and the people here are amazing. :)

  10. nick, January 31, 2014:

    I think bon qui qui deserves a full length movie. Maybe start a kick starter campaign?

  11. Zach Cruz, February 5, 2014:

    Hey Angela,
    im writing this comment to tell you we might be related my mothers side of the family is both mexican and native american ,yet thier last name is Johnson and we have no idea where the name comes from. we have family in California and across the united states and we have compared your picture to some of our female cousins ,but then again dont all latinas look alike lol best wishes
    -Zach

  12. Leti, February 6, 2014:

    Hello :) I LOVE you Anjelah you are Hilarious!!!!

    On another note, can Ya’ll get some more XXL T-shirts with “That’s How We Do It”? I have been wanting one for the longest time… This is the only spot that I was able to leave a message with my request so hopefully it gets to the right person LOL! God Bless!

  13. Lea McIntyre, February 8, 2014:

    Anjelah YOU ROCK!!! I saw your show In San Antonio tonight and you are super funny and talented with such a witty sense of humor!!!!! I thought it was pretty cool of you to do the little shout out about your faith…I too am a Christian and was encouraged by your words. You’re a class act!! As a counselor I work very hard but like to play hard too and have a great time out w friends which is what we did tonight at LOL!! I encourage you to keep doing what your doing bc we need more comedians like you who make people roll w laughter wo being super vulgar and filthy YET still clever witty fabulous and hilarious!! God bless from a fan :) ;)

  14. Mary S., February 9, 2014:

    Anjelah we saw your show tonight also and we loved it! We love you! Keep doing what your doing we need to see more women doing stand up comedy. You so funny! You go girl! =) Definitely going to see you again!!

  15. robin, February 9, 2014:

    When will you have a show in Long Island, NY?

  16. Alisa C, February 10, 2014:

    Please come to the Tampa, FL Hard Rock!!! I love your comedy!

  17. Jana T, February 13, 2014:

    Thank you so much. You are a truly amazing woman. Your love for your husband, his love for you. God Bless you with a great man and a wonderful talent. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Saw you in Brooks, CA – enjoyed every minute. Thank you. God Bless you and Manwell.

  18. Jackie, February 16, 2014:

    How about adding Cleveland, OH to your Tour?!?! There are some great venues!!!

  19. Kaylene Milstein, February 20, 2014:

    anjelah, love your humor. But holy creeping crotch crickets Batman, when are u going to come to Nevada? It’s only 1 state away. Hop on over and bring ManWell w you. Kaylene, crazy little old witch!

  20. Christopher Hicks, February 21, 2014:

    Anjelah Johnson you are amazing!! I watch your special on Netflix ALLLLLLL the time haha! Please come to Cleveland sometime soon!

  21. Diana Rivera, February 26, 2014:

    You are so funny! When are you coming to Chicago? I would love to see you in person at one of your shows!

  22. Ricky, March 6, 2014:

    PLEASE COME BACK TO SEATTLE!!!! I MISSED YOUR SHOW on MARCH 1st and I would do whatever it takes to go see you. =(

  23. Darien Brown, March 19, 2014:

    Hi Anjelah my name is Darien Brown and i’m a comic from Australia. i just want to say i think you are really funny and a very beautiful woman. I read that you’re going to be in Melbourne for this years comedy festival i’ve gotten my ticket to see you and if it’s ok with you i’d like to have a chat with you after the show so i can get to know you and hopefully i can hook you up with some gigs cause i’m just one comic trying to help another.

    Lots of Love

    Darien ;)

  24. Steven Hall, March 25, 2014:

    Knock em dead girl! :-)

  25. Rick H., March 29, 2014:

    You are awesome, when are you coming to the MD,DC,VA area!

  26. Aaron M., March 31, 2014:

    Just wanted to say I just watched both of your comedy specials on Netflix and you definitely go the funny! Awesome to see you’re coming to Birmingham, AL in the future!!

  27. Bianca, April 1, 2014:

    Anjelah!
    Saw your show on Tuesday night, managed to snag front row seats too! (felt like I scored a lot of eye contact during the show from you, felt like it was a conversation between friends, it was awesome!) Was stoked to see you live finally after so many repeated watchings online. You’re even better in person, top notch show.
    Australia loves you!
    Thanks so much Anjelah, hope you enjoy the rest of your time down under.
    B xx

  28. Milly, April 2, 2014:

    I just got tickets for your show on June 6th @ 9:45 show… This is my ultimate birthday gift. Love you!!!!!

  29. jestina, April 3, 2014:

    You are amazing!! Will you ever come to Denver or cheyenne???

  30. Rochely, April 9, 2014:

    Hey anjelah I’m a huge fan. I really hope to meet you someday. I want to know if your ever going to come to North Carolina Charlotte? I just wanted to let you know that I admire you and the fact that you say god bless everyone after every show is awesome. It shows that your not ashamed of God and you tell people you go to church. So many celebrities shame in the work of God. I also like the fact that you keep it real and you have no shame from where you came from I really admire that and admire you. I hope to meet you one day if your ever on this side of town. God bless you and your family.

  31. Corina, April 11, 2014:

    You’re doing an amazing job! Keep it up! Hope to catch a show if you’re ever near San Antonio or Austin, Texas!

  32. Lilinoe, April 15, 2014:

    I think you’re all types of hilarious!!! gurlie u’s da bizness! can’t wait til ur here in hawaii.

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