One More Time

One More Time

Laurelin Paige


Why am I doing this to myself? I wonder, as I sneak a sip of coconut water between reps of hundreds. I could be sleeping instead of being tortured.

Next to me, I hear a text followed by a squeal, and I remember exactly why I’m doing this to myself. Because--that. I want that!

To understand what it’s like to be an actress in Los Angeles, there’s no need to eavesdrop at the hottest talent agency in town. Don’t bother snagging a table at the latest vegan Mexican fusion restaurant. Skip the shopping session at Fred Segal and highlight at Sally Hershberger and all the star-studded movie premieres.

To get the real insight, just sign up for Jake Frente’s Monday morning Hot Pilates class at Model Body Studios. In his class are forty girls glistening with the perfect amount of sweat while perched atop tribal printed yoga mats working out to the beats of whatever rapper everyone is obsessed with that month.

And every single one of them will have a cell phone neatly placed on the top right corner of her mat, screen up.

For reasons I can’t pinpoint, this particular class is completely full of A-list actresses – the kind that can expect a call at any moment – even during her 8:00 am Monday morning workout. And Model Body Studios is the kind of place that welcomes the distraction of a cell phone ring (or three) in the middle of the abs circuit. If phones are ringing during Jake’s class that means he’s teaching the right girls.

The right girls... and me.

I have been occupying the back left corner of Jake’s 8:00 am for the past four years without a single phone ring. Somewhere around year two I thought my phone went off, but it was a storm warning. Sometime around year three I begged my best friend to call during the class, but he got the time wrong.

Any day now, Jake is going to realize that I’m the least successful person in this room, and ask me to leave. I’ve started bringing him cold pressed green juices, his favorite, to hold off the inevitable for just that much longer. Surely, if I just get in enough time around these women, whatever combination of luck and fairy dust they have will settle on me, too.

The whole thing is even more annoyingly ironic because I am the only model among this sea of actresses at Model Body Studios. My agent Carrie says I need to stop calling myself a model and start exclusively saying actress. It would be easier to agree if my resume wasn’t so heavily filled with runway and commercial spots.

Or if she’d called to say so during planks in Jake’s class.

I was discovered at the Short Hills Mall on my twelfth birthday. For a little more irony, the scout noticed me because I was doing an impression of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman for my best friend Cassie.

Acting has been my dream for as long as I can remember.

I told that to the scout that day at the mall, confused when he asked if I would ever consider a career in modeling. After all, I wasn’t striking poses to attract his attention. I was re-enacting the “big mistake” moment from Rodeo Drive outside of Sweetsy’s Candy. I’ll never forget the words he said to me as he passed along his card.

“Baby, I’m going to make you a supermodel, and then every single movie studio will come calling.”

And even though it gave me the squicks to hear him call me baby, he was right about the first part. By the time I was sixteen, I was all but living in first class, shuttling between magazine cover shoots in New York, runway gigs in Paris and all the most fabulous designer parties in Milan.

It was a fantasy life. I felt like an overnight princess plucked from suburban New Jersey and placed in someone else’s magical world. There were fifty-foot yachts and masquerade balls and insane gifts from top designers. Men swooned over my every move.

They didn’t want to hear me speak, though. I didn’t need skills, I just needed to maintain my waistline. And at sixteen, that didn’t require hot pilates. At sixteen, it didn’t matter that much to me that all I was was a pretty face.

And if the trade-off was loneliness? Well, my bank account sure wasn’t. And there were always new movies to watch. I memorized monologues with the gusto of any theater student, alone in the home theaters of Dolce and Gabbana, or Anna Wintour, while the rest of the fashion world partied above me.

Honestly, I could have gone on that way for ages, if it weren’t for two things. The first was the fact that models have a shorter shelf-life than the average NFL player. Five years is an eternity on the runway. When I started to get fewer calls from all the designers who’d called me their muse only last season, I knew it was time to start working toward my retirement.

Retirement. In my twenties.

My modeling agency fulfilled their promise of setting me up with a talent agency and letting me spend more time in L.A. That was four years ago. Today my time is still spent shooting lingerie ads in cold photo studios and waiting for my phone to be the one that finally rings in Jake’s class.

Please, don’t let me be a has-been at twenty-nine.

“Ladies! Up for the standing abs sequence!” Jake bellows from his spot at the front of the room.

I both love and loathe this day. The start of the week means casting calls, aka hope. But it also means grinning and bearing it through another round of Model Body as everyone else gets the calls for parts I auditioned for.

“We all know it’s three weeks ‘til the start of awards season!” Jake adds with a wink, as he adds a little extra gusto to his twisties. I add some to mine, too. If I can’t be his most successful student, I can damn well be his most vivacious one.

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