March 4, 2010 


As much as I love writing, I've decided that I would now like to be an actress. Not just any kind of actress, mind you. I want to be an "Academy Award-Winning" actress. The way I figure it, at 43, I'm too old to play Harrison Ford's girlfriend anymore. I don't look good enough in glasses to be the sexy scientist in an Armageddon flick. It's safe to say nude scenes are out. And no matter how much I brush my teeth, there's still that one stubborn canine that remains dingier than the rest of my teeth in photographs.

No, I need to go right to the meaty parts; the ones for anybody over age twenty and size four. Since I already have the writing thing down, it would stand to reason that penning my own screenplay would give me a real edge. After a little noodling, here's a rough summary: I'm a blind nun who boxes despite the damage it does to my hands and consequently to my side-career as a concert cellist. I take up prostitution to pay for a prosthetic leg after having lost my limb during an alligator attack down in the jungle, where I lived for five years while teaching four orangutans to sing in a barbershop quartet.

I opted not to play one of the queens of England because I don't do accents.

Once again, the Academy Awards – which air this month – will feature a nice array of actresses that don't all fit the standard beauty mold. Not that beautiful actresses don't win. Halle Berry and Charlize Theron are certainly glamorous, but they won for less than glamorous characters. When that happens, people consider that brave. What exactly constitutes bravery in Hollywood? It's kind of interesting to think about how that idea differs between men and women. If you're a man, brave is packing on twenty pounds of muscle, so you can wrestle, shoot or sword fight with a lion. If you're a woman, brave means packing on twenty pounds of fat, not curling your hair, wearing no make-up and allowing close ups of your cellulite and droopy, upper arm fat during a gratuitous underwear scene. Add a cigarette, a bottle of booze and some lousy dancing to a Journey ballad and you can't lose.

Another popular trend is to downplay your femininity and then die for it. Hilary Swank is one of very few women to have won two Oscars, despite an otherwise unremarkable career. She won the first one for playing a girl who pretended to be a boy and was murdered when people found out. Her second award was for playing a female boxer who is euthanized by her trainer after a ring accident leaves her a quadriplegic. I figured she was a shoe-in for a third nomination when she snagged the role of Amelia Earhart. After all, not only did Ms. Earhart die flying a plane, but it was the 1930's and she wore slacks a lot. Not to mention the fact that aviator jackets look really stupid with a white apron and dinner pearls. Tomboy + death = Oscar.

Come to think of it, I really should die at some point in my screenplay. I think I'll lose the nun angle as well. While it's true that playing nuns and prostitutes significantly ups your chances, I have to be realistic. I may only have one chance at this thing, and if Meryl Streep decides to play a nun that same year, I might as well flush my habit down the toilet.

Not only do I have Meryl Streep to constantly worry about, the last few years have seen quite the domination by foreign actresses. I wonder if I could boost my chances by moving to Spain long enough to pick up a sexy accent. I said before that I don't do accents. But that's when I have to do one on a moment's notice. I do actually pick them up rather quickly when exposed to one for any length of time. I have been known to talk like Scarlet O'Hara for a solid half hour after watching an episode of Designing Women.

I have also seriously considered changing my name to Kate. Since 2004, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett (both foreign) have racked up an amazing 8 nominations between them. This presents quite a quandary however. Which one would be better: Kate with a "K" or Cate with a "C"? It's just too risky to chance picking the wrong one. And changing my name to Meryl just seems cheesy and perhaps a tad bit desperate.

Somehow, I'll need to work in an addiction of some kind. Charlize Theron consumed all kinds of substances in Monster, Anne Hathaway's stint in rehab is a key factor in Rachel Getting Married, Naomi Watts is hooked on cocaine in 21 Grams and in The Reader, Kate Winslet is hooked on Phonics.

Actually, I shouldn't rule out the nude scene idea entirely. There is a precedent for it after all. Diane Keaton struck a blow for women in their 60's by bearing all in Something's Got To Give. Kathy Bates, one of the few overweight women to win a Best Actress Oscar, shed her clothes for a hot tub scene in About Schmidt, for which she earned a supporting actress nod. I could live with the humiliation of seeing a 15 foot wide version of my blobs of lower back fat if it resulted in a genderless golden statue on my fireplace mantel.

Okay, so clearly I need to rethink my story pitch to the big Hollywood execs. In my new screenplay, I'm a spanish transvestite who emigrates to the United States and makes it onto the Men's Olympic Swim Team. But after the full body swimsuit is banned from competition, I'm found out during a gritty scene involving a Speedo™ and a dimly lit locker room. Disgraced, I become hooked on rubbing alcohol and cough syrup. Since I still like the only-having-one-leg angle, I lose my leg while crossing the street in a drunken stupor and getting hit by a car. While in the hospital feeling sorry for myself (which will give me many opportunities for dramatic crying scenes) I eventually find redemption, thanks to a nun, played by Meryl Streep. Hey, I figure if I can't beat her, work her into the screenplay. That way, I can make the part small enough to ensure she only gets a supporting actress nomination.

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