Age 15: My appearance as a “6/10” on a Canadian family sitcom:
Written By Joseph McAllister
I’ve always wanted to be a star. A world famous, violently adored, obscenely wealthy, mega-celebrity. Funnily enough, I’ve also been steadfast in my dreams of being invisible, anonymous, and free from public perception. Ah, the duality of man. For the record - I don’t think this is a rare conundrum. I know of many people who wish to be applauded but feel generally uncomfortable being perceived. It could be due to a number of things: my generation (gen Z), my star sign (cancer), my environment… but regardless of why, I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I was 15 years old when I received the opportunity to attend my very first TV audition. I remember entering a crowded audition room with literally no idea of what I was supposed to do, no thoughts, no understanding of what a slate was, just memorized dialogue bouncing around in my head. After immediately making a fool out of myself, I spewed off my lines and got out of that room fast.
Filming began in the summer of 2011 in Halifax NS, for one of Canada’s most successful sitcoms. Yes, this is a story from almost 10 years ago. Am I allowed to share the following information? Is it relevant? Who’s to say? Our Moda lifestyle readers will be the first to know if I get sued! ;) Before I knew it, I was on set. When I got the offer for the part I remember wondering just how bad at acting everyone else was who auditioned. When I accepted the offer I was asked to keep everything about my appearance the exact same for the shoot day. This is where I will stress the relevance of this episodes particular plot: *Character names have been changed so I don’t get sued* A high school teacher is pressured to encourage student’s attendance for a school dance. Upon suggesting that “Joe” go the the dance with “Kristen” as his date, the teacher is told that “Joe” is in fact gay. He then attempts to find a suitable date for “Joe” which calls into play the hilarity of the adult teacher attempting to quantify the attractiveness of his student.
With many sitcoms, there is an element of improvisation on set. Actors will be told to “have fun” with the base lines they are given, so it’s to be expected that a producer who is both the main writer and the main character, may have full control over what is happening during filming. I was painfully unaware of most things at 15, but this experience stuck with me, and I continued to wonder about why my character was being reduced to a punchline. It was experiences like this that ignited my spark for storytelling. Once I realized who was in charge of telling the stories, I began to better understand the importance of perspective, and that telling someone else's story without their input could be damaging. I stayed all day on set with a man who spent hours testing out “gay jokes” to see if they would work for family friendly programming. (They didn’t) After far too recently facing reality, I've realized that world fame wouldn’t bring me any more happiness than I would get from escaping to a tiny cabin in the woods. I think that’s because life has repeatedly taught me the importance of balance, and to consistently strengthen my core values. I’m lucky to appreciate a support system that applauds my successes and allows me to grow from my mistakes - and that is more valuable to me than anything else.
This certainly wasn’t the first controversial plot involving high school age children, nor will it be the last. You can decide for yourself if it was offensive, funny, or neither. All I can comment on is my take away. Would I be mad if they called me a 10/10? Next question...