Wild Card

Bad Hair Day

“Thank you for your submission for the hair modeling audition tomorrow…” the email began. I racked my brain, trying to remember the details about this casting assignment. I joined LA Casting two months ago, in hopes of booking more commercials and featured background roles. I applied to roughly twenty gigs every day and in return received the occasional response. I was mostly booked for background jobs on low budget short films, with a smattering of interesting new Netflix shows and commercials.

This particular job was interesting, though. Apparently, seventeen girls were going to be selected from the audition and matched to individual stylists. The email clarified that they would not do any changes to our hair with our explicit consent, which sounded reasonable enough. I pulled out some clothing to wear in the morning, set my alarm, and fell asleep.
I woke up early, warmed by the morning heat that was already overpowering my central AC. I went to hop in the shower… and the bathroom light didn’t turn on. I flicked it several times, wondering if I needed to flip the circuit breaker. Only then did I realize that the AC was not on at all. My mind started racing. Without power, I couldn’t use my hairdryer! I lifted my limp hair— could I be a hair model with day-old, pillow-smushed hair? After a moment of indecision, I brushed my locks, spritzed in a little hairspray, and hoped they would appreciate my “natural” look.

After throwing on a pair of leggings and a black flowy top, I headed down to my car. It wasn’t until I was in the garage that I noticed my next obstacle: the garage gate was run on an electronic system. Another no-go. Already baking in my long pants, I threw up my hands and headed back inside my apartment. I changed into shorts, put on a tank and wondered how long it would take for my apartment to reach unbearably hot temperatures.

Ten minutes later, I heard a knock on my front door. I opened it to find a kindly neighbor letting me know that the apartment manager had manually opened the garage door. I now had two options: stay home and wait for the electricity to come back on or go to the audition. I chose the latter. I grabbed my bag and headed to my car. What the heck— it could be fun!

I arrived at the address to find a huge, high-end salon. The lobby was sparkling white with contemporary furnishings… and a mob of leggy models strung about. I froze, mentally berating myself for not changing back into my leggings and dressy top. Here I was in jean shorts, a tank, and flats. I was not prepared for this! Like, at all!

I signed in at the front desk and slunk to a corner of the room, discreetly trying to slip on the heels I’d thrown into my oversized purse. Jean shorts and black patent heels— it was a good look.

Fifteen long minutes later (remember the heels?), a petite woman with a commanding presence told everyone to follow her. I hid among the herd as we entered a room with a runway down the center and two rows of chairs.

The woman pointed to various sections of the room and said, “If you’re ‘up for anything’ sit here. If you want to stay blonde, sit there. Brunettes and redheads, over there. Snap to it!”

I wavered momentarily. I had never died my hair. My brain scrolled through images of pink hair, bright blue highlights, then gothic black with bangs. Nope, sticking to brown.
I sat with the my fellow brunettes (by far the largest group in the room) as the lady in charge started to explain the procedure.

“We’ve got seventeen students preparing to graduate from our program. Today, they will be completing their final projects. They will each have two minutes to select a model. Before they select you, they will tell you what they plan to do with your hair. If it is not amenable to you, simply say no. Do not waver or think about it. It is a simple “yes” or “no”. If you are selected, you will be here until 8pm tonight. If you are not able to fulfill this role, please leave now.”

Nobody moved. I don’t think anyone blinked, to be honest. And then, the students came in. They were all adults, most in their thirties, some in their forties. This was an advanced education styling program and seemingly very competitive. Before I knew it, the woman in charge took out a timer and called out “Scott! You have two minutes!”

A man with a flannel shirt and gelled hair stepped up and directed his attention at a girl with strawberry blonde locks. “How do you feel about a spicy red?” he asked. The girl nodded her consent and stood up.

“Send her to the runway, Scott,” the boss lady trilled.

“Could you walk for me?” Scott asked kindly. The girl nodded again and stepped up on the runway. She trained her eyes on the far wall and stomped to the far end, her hips moving just the right amount. As she struck a pose at the edge, the woman in charge caught Scott’s eye and gave a small nod of approval.

“Great,” Scott said to the girl, and off they went.

“Next up!” A woman jumped forward and started touching girls’ hair, moving around the room with a slightly frantic bent.

My thoughts were racing. Walk the runway? Nobody mentioned this! Good thing I have heels on. But how should I walk? Should I just be normal? Should I stomp it out, Tyra Banks style? I’m going to look like such an idiot…

The redheads were a hot commodity. All of them were snapped up within minutes. The stylists than shifted their attention to the girls who were “open to anything”. The problem with them, though, was that many of the models had clearly had their hair dyed recently. Apparently that affected the whole “re-dying” process.

The models were also hesitant to some of the wild ideas the stylists had in mind. One lady asked a model if she would go for “black hair with red highlights”. The girl shook her light brown hair quite frantically. Another was asked if she would go for “a fade to lavender”. The girl drew back with a concerned look, but hesitated to respond.

“YES or NO” the woman in charge said. “Don’t waste their time!”

The girl said “no” and the stylist moved on.

“Feel free to send multiple girls down the runway if you want to see their walk,” boss lady added.

Just then I felt hands stroking my unwashed hair.

“Would you be ok with blonde highlights?” the stylist asked me. I let out a sigh of relief. Highlights I could do. I nodded and then realized that it was time. Time to walk the runway. I held my breath as I stepped up. I trained my eyes on the far wall, remembered to not swing my arms too much, and walked.

I sort of awkwardly stopped at the end, unsure of whether to strike a pose or simply return to my seat. The stylist had already sent two other girls up to follow me on the runway. She selected one of the other models and I sat back down.

One by one, the models were picked and walked off with their new owners. As the last girl was chosen, I breathed a small sigh of relief. My modeling career was not going to begin today. And my hair was not going to be dyed any funky colors. Of the forty or so girls that auditioned, the majority that remained were brunettes. Apparently, blondes and redheads really are more fun.

I also would like to mention that I most definitely did not have the worst runway walk. The winner of that coveted award went to the girl who swayed her hips so much that she looked like a hula dancer. It was quite entertaining.

I left the studio and went back to my car, switched into my flats and threw my hair up in a messy bun. I realized that even though I wasn’t picked, I felt just a slight bit flattered by the whole experience. I’d stomped the runway. Take that, Tyra.


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