Things suddenly got very busy for Allie. Not only was she working as an extra on the sitcom but she was also desperately trying to make it as a real actress. Her first step was to sign up with an agent. Stella Magneti was the only one who would really take her on. She was an actress herself in her hey-day but had crossed over years ago when her looks had failed her. Though she still hung on tight to what she still had left!
She took a headshot of Allie on her wind-up camera and added it to her wall of stars, though Allie did not recognise anyone else.
“The first thing you have to do is get yourself in shape,” Stella told Allie in her thick New Jersey accent. “Get down that gym and make sure you are in the best shape of your life cause that is all they care about in this town. If you haven’t got the looks, you haven’t got a career.”
So that is just what Allie did. It was normally late at night or first thing in the morning that she would use the last of her money on a gym membership and pound the treadmill.
The other thing Stella told her was to practice practice practice. So every day she stood in front of her mirror acting out scenes to herself and perfecting the expressions of her face.
But no matter how much she exercised her butt off or pulled every expression under the sun to herself in the mirror, she still was not landing any roles. And it was not for lack of trying. She went to every audition that was around. If the role was for a female army officer, Allie would dye her favourite dress camouflage in order to look the part.
Or if the role called for an authentic Chinese character, the fact that Allie was not Chinese would not put her off. She just borrowed a dress off a friend at the diner and tried to convince the casting director that she was Chinese.
But they were not stupid. They could see Allie for who she was. A naïve girl with a small level of talent who just needed a lucky break. It was just that they were not the ones willing to give it to her.
So to bring in the extra cash and raise her profile, Allie took whatever she could. And these jobs normally came in the form of promotions. Being the pretty girl draped over a car in a showroom. Or dancing her socks off at the opening of a new night club. In the end, Allie was not fussy as long as people started to notice her.
In contrast to her life in the D list limelight, Allie lived out her days waiting on the folks of Bridgeport at the Diner.
She served coffee, scrubbed tables and attended to customer’s day in and day out. There was nothing what-so-ever glamorous about this side of Allie’s life. But it paid the bills and bought in more money than her job at the studios and her promotions work. Also, they were used to having actors working for them so were flexible with her hours if she needed to go for auditions.
As the Diner was just across the road from the Film Studios, it meant that a lot of the industry workers frequented the place. She normally hid when the big chiefs came in as she was embarrassed by her failures at not yet making it. But it was when any real celebrities came in that she got all silly.
She always got so star struck that she would shriek and then hide from them in shame at her outbursts.
Her saving grace at the Diner was Millie. Millie was a single mother of four who had also come to Bridgeport twenty years ago with the dream of becoming a star. Three lousy men and four kids later she had well and truly given up on her dream and was just concentrating on putting food on her kids table. Millie was like a surrogate mother to Allie and the two of them would lark around together while at work making the shifts go much quicker.
And when the Diner closed every night, they would stay behind eating all the left over pie and putting the world to rights.
“I just don’t know what to do,” Allie would moan to Millie night after night. “I go to all these auditions and I never even get a call back. What’s wrong with me, I can’t be that bad!”
“Honey it has nothing to do with you being a bad actress but more to do with the competition,” Millie would reply. “Almost every girl in this city is after the same role as you and most of them are willing to do more and go further than you to get that role.”
“What do you mean go further,” Allie would ask.
“You’ll find out in time honey but let’s just say that the girls that get the jobs aren’t always employed for their acting talent, if you know what I mean.”
Allie had heard of this and it was just something she was not willing to do. There had to be another way to get noticed in this town!
Allie told herself that if she just kept going like she was she would eventually get her big break. She started hanging around more and more at the film studios when she was not working and schmoozing with all the workers.
Something she was doing was certainly starting to work because she started to get promoted. First to Best Girl. Then to Key Grip, which meant her job was getting everything precisely in focus for the Director. But it was the phone call Allie got almost six months after arriving in Bridgeport that almost flawed her.
It was her boss at the studios. She was getting another promotion and this time to personal assistant which in the movie business being the right hand of someone important was nearly as good as actually being important yourself. Her job would be to mix and mingle with celebrities while taking care of tasks for her employer. But here came the real news, her new employer was Tom Mason.
As Allie hung up the phone she could hardly breathe. Tom Mason’s picture had been hanging on her wall since she arrived in Bridgeport. In fact it had been hanging on her wall when she lived at home with her parents and was one of the only things she had bought with her. Tom Mason was one of the most famous up-and-coming actors in the world and Allie was going to be working alongside him. She pinched herself, was it really true?