The Actress (Story by Risa Peris)

The Cannes Film Festival was better than the Oscars as it gave me an excuse to leave LA. People think the life of an actress is glamorous and exotic. Maybe it was for the select few who could hand pick their roles. But that was not me. I had to stay in LA and do auditions, track down projects, collaborate with screenwriters…in general, I hustled. But Cannes was a gem. I could go to France and hustle.

I had a movie in the drama category. I was the foil to Catherine the Great in a movie by the same name. Glory Reese was the star. The darling. We tip-toed around her during the filming. She had to have PH balanced water, a kale shake in the morning, and no sweets near her. She had us all on edge during filming. I had many scenes with her and often she would end a scene without the director’s input.

“No, this scene is simply wrong,” she would say. She frequently did this in the scenes I was in. It unsettled me and I would talk to the director who would advise a different approach. Glory never said she disliked me but…she disliked me.

Cannes was magical. The first two days before the festival I roamed, shopped, and breathed the salt-encrusted air.
It was felt so good to be beyond the vibe of LA and chasing down acting gigs. I had no contact with Glory. The director reached out to me before the premiere.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Great. Why do you ask?”

“Well, we had to do some last minute editing. Glory wasn’t happy…with you. It’s minor. You’re still in the movie. Perhaps more minor.” He shoved his hands in his pockets.

“What are you talking about?”

“Your role has been minimized. It happens. I’m sorry.”

I felt a strong rush of anger. “What are you talking about?”

“Geez, lower your voice. The press lurks everywhere. Look, Glory was the reason we got financing so what she says…let’s just say she’s pulling the strings.”

I ran out of the bar. I wanted to cry but didn’t. I wanted to scream but didn’t. I went back to the hotel and got dressed for the premiere. I was a professional. I was an actress but I was also a professional. I got my hair and makeup done at a salon. I didn’t have the money for personal service. I went back to the hotel and shimmied into my turquoise dress and smiled. I smiled hard. The cameras flashed on the red carpet and quickly moved away when Glory showed.

I watched the movie. All my powerful lines were removed. I was this anemic, sniveling actress bowing to Glory’s might. People shook my hand afterward but no one said I did great or wonderful. This meant only one thing. I would have to hustle at Cannes. I would have to hustle to find more work. I might as well have been in LA. I went nowhere in Cannes other than parties where I could meet writers, producers, and directors. I left Cannes without ever once going to the beach or exploring the Cote D’Azur. So much for France. When I got back to LA I went to sleep and then in the morning, with jet lag still plaguing me, I called my agent.

“I think I got you a bit on Saturday Night Live,” he said.

“Anything else?”

“I got good reviews on the movie.”

“The movie I was basically erased from?”

“Well…Glory…hey, can you do a commercial?”

And so it began again. The life of an actress.

THE END

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