That Time I Messed Up My ‘Big Break’
APRIL, 2018
Some failures teach us something. Some failures make us better people. Some failures bring us back down to earth. But some failures are just plain embarrassing.

One of the biggest fails of my life was the first time I was on television.

It was the year 2008 (I think). I had just finished studying and I was ready to embark on a journey in the entertainment industry. I did a couple of things to make money while going for a few castings and auditions along the way.

One morning I got a phone call from the casting director of Egoli. She saw my performance at our final exam in third year and they had a small part for me – the part of a singing telegram. Was I interested?

Was I interested? Of course I was. But I was terrified. My first time on tv and I have to… sing?!? Are you kidding me? I can hold a note, but I would never call myself a singer. The only reason I even sang at my final exam was because:

  • I wasn’t alone – we were a group of three girls
  • I could rely on my basic tap dancing skills as the song required tap dancing
  • I wanted good marks, so I had to show different skills.

But here a casting director was offering me a job on television. My big break had come.

And I was not going to say no. Even if I had to… sing.

“Was I interested? Of course I was. But I was terrified. ”
Obviously I said yes. I learnt the song, went for a singing lesson to help me (the poor woman probably wondered ‘what was that casting director thinking?’) and got up really early on the day they wanted to shoot my scene.

I was there at about 6 am (I had to be there at 8 – the things we do to miss traffic). I was psyched up and ready to go. I sang my heart out in the car, and once they opened up the building I went inside. I was sent to a waiting room and sat on a couch. I then had to move couches ‘cause that was ‘that other actress’s seat’, and I there I waited. The call sheet said that my scene will be shot at around 12pm, so that wasn’t too much of a wait. Eventually I was sent to block the scene, work a little bit with the voice coach and then I was sent to hair and make-up. I was super excited and pumped up with adrenaline – I really did not want to mess this up.

12 o’clock came and went.

1 o’clock came and went. I had lunch with a super friendly actor.

2 o’clock came and went.

Apparently there were children and their scenes had to be done first.

So I had to wait some more.

And as the day went on, my pumped up adrenaline and energy started fading away. I felt like I had sung the song a million times in the dressing room already and I was just exhausted from all the waiting.

At 17:30 it was finally time to shoot my scene.

I was tired, my voice was tired, I was unbelievably nervous and I completely and utterly messed it up. There’s no nice way of putting it.

I was so disappointed in myself. It was something I had been dreaming of my entire life and I finally got a chance and I blew it. I was crushed.

The saving grace was that that episode aired on Christmas Eve, and I was dressed up, so few people watched it, and the ones who did probably didn’t recognise me. They cut quite a bit of my song out (I wonder why) and it was okay, but I wasn’t proud of it. Not at all.

It sucks that I had a day like that, but I did learn a couple of things:

  • I was not ready for that industry. My confidence levels were very low and, if that was in fact my big break and it did lead to other things, I would’ve cracked at some point. I was just not mature enough.
  • You don’t get paid for acting, you get paid for waiting.
  • I shouldn’t sing on TV – at least not until I have had years of vocal training.

It wasn’t a proud day for me, but it was exciting. I have a story to tell and I can laugh at myself.

Sometimes we need to fall so that we can learn to stand up again. In the big things and the small.

It’s as simple as that.

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