The Role of a Lifetime

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Hey everybody, here’s a stand-alone that is based off of something that could have happened but didn’t. If you enjoy this, make sure and read my other stand-alones on my old account or check out my Austin’s Razor, Start of Something New, or Barbershop Assistant series! There’s sure to be something for everybody!

Starving Actresses

It all started with a stupid dare. My roommate, Kayleigh, and I had moved out to LA, looking for fame and fortune in the acting world, only to find that although we were both very pretty and good actresses, we didn’t have the it factor or the passion to get much work. At least that’s what all of the casting directors told us as they rejected each of us time after time. In the three years we had been in Hollywood, we had both just skated by with commercials and small roles on TV to keep our SAG memberships.

”Alright, Mick, I’m off to work,” Kayleigh said that fateful day. She always called me Mick, short for Michaela, because apparently three syllables was too much for her.

”Another glorious day at Buffalo Wild Wings?” I asked, seeing her in the ridiculous uniform she had to wear.

”Oh that’s big talk coming from the Hooters waitress?” Kayleigh said, mocking me, like she always did, for my job at the restaurant chain that was so popular with gross and grabby men.

”Hey, you’re just jealous that I bring in more tips than you,” I said with a shrug. My girls had never been anything but an asset for me, even landing me some small TV spots as a buxom bar worker on shows that never lasted more than a season.

”Mick, we have to do something different. I can’t do this waitressing thing anymore,” Kayleigh complained, flopping down next to me on the couch.

”Don’t you need to get to work?” I asked, raising my eyebrow and tossing my long brown hair with its heavy blonde highlights, recently done for new head shots.

“Seriously? That can wait. We need to change something, our agents keep getting us auditions but nothing ever works out,” she whined.

”Because we aren’t committed enough, right?” I asked, toying with her chocolatey brown ponytail that rested on her right shoulder.

”That’s what they say,” she said, rolling her eyes.

”Fine, I dare you to do whatever it takes for your next audition. No matter what, you will act your heart out and you will get that job,” I said with a nod.

”Then I dare you to do the same. Next audition your agent gets you, you get that job no matter what. We’re going to be famous,” she said, standing up and nodding, her high ponytail rippling with the movement of her head.

I stood up and shook her hand, “You’re damn right we are. Now you get to work just in case this doesn’t work out.”

Kayleigh rolled her eyes before kissing me on the cheek and leaving. I went and sat back down on the couch. It was my day off and I was taking full advantage of it. Wearing only a white tank top and a comfy pair of pajama pants, I was in full relaxation mode as I binged my current favorite trashy Netflix reality show. Barely paying attention, I scrolled through Instagram on my phone.

As I scrolled, the posts only furthered my feelings of failure that Kayleigh had brought to the surface. I followed plenty of actors and actresses and they seemed to be fully showing off all of their successes. Even people who, three years ago, had started off with me were finding spots as regulars on successful shows or were getting roles as supporting characters in movies. No big stars but plenty of work.

Then my phone dinged. It was an email from my agent. Rita was the best. She supported me fully and only wanted me to succeed, even if it was only so she could make money too. She treated me like her only client, even though she had plenty of other aspiring stars to take care of as well.

This email looked like all of the others for auditions. A script, the type of character they were looking for (in this instance a pretty blonde, which thanks to a recent hair appointment I was, with a thin waist and a nice rack), that the part would last for at least a few episodes as a major supporting character, when to be there, and what time. But there was something strange at the end. It had one special note that read.

”If the part is offered, actress must be willing to shave head on camera.”

I gulped but remembered the dare. And I remembered that I had a job that I hated. That I was ready to launch my career as an actress. And that I had never gotten a multi-episode job before so why would I count on this one working out? I emailed Rita back.

”Put me down for it, I’m in.”

The Audition

The day of my audition arrived and I was ready. Even though I was still fairly sure I was going to get denied, Kayleigh had made sure I was fully committed. She read lines with me, offered insight, brought in her boyfriend who was an only slightly more successful actor in to read lines with me as well. So by the day of the audition, a week after I got the email, I was as ready as I’d ever be.

My role would be on a show that had already been running for a couple of seasons with a good amount of success. It was about a certain extremely popular superhero whose arch nemesis had a bald head. I was auditioning for the part of a crazed young woman who had fallen deeply in love with this nemesis and, to prove my devotion for him, I would shave my head to match him.

In my audition, I was to show my disturbed nature as best as possible. It needed to be subtle, boiling under the surface as though it was ready to explode. I couldn’t be outwardly insane, but instead I needed to show it quietly and threateningly. If I got the job, I’d finally get to show off my acting chops and not just my big boobs and pretty face.

As I waited for my turn, I sat in a waiting room filled with other pretty blondes, some natural and other who, like me, got their color from a bottle. From the room where I would be doing my audition, I heard screams, saw others competing for the role leave with tearstained faces and running makeup. All looked and sounded insane but it seemed all too obvious. I needed to try something different.

”Michaela?” I head my name being called by a casting assistant.

I raised my hand and headed into the casting room, following closely on the assistant’s heels. The room looked like so many others that I had been in. A table, some lights, and a few people sitting in chairs that stared at me from across the table.

”Michaela McDonald?” one of the men sitting at the table who looked the most bored asked.

”That’s me, I’m reading for the part of Cassandra,” I said, trying my best not to sound nervous.

He waved his hand and thusly, my audition began. The man who was reading the lines opposite me led us in, reading his lines with bored competency. Rather than playing the role in a wild, over the top method like other girls had done, I remembered what the audition called for. Subtle, but ready to boil over. And that’s what I did.

I read my lines like a woman possessed. Except I also read them like someone who didn’t want others to see she was possessed. Small ticks, wild eyes, an unsettlingly quiet speed to my words. The people who sat on the other side of the table shifted from boredom to intrigue. To excitement. My line reading partner became more invested. I was doing well. Really well. Better than I ever had before.

When it was all said and done, the casting director nodded. “Michaela, that was the best performance we’ve seen all day. We’ll be in contact with your agent so you can meet and test your chemistry with the actor you’ll be working with the most.”

I smiled and shook each of their hands, excited at some real progress and having mostly forgotten the stipulation required for hiring. Until the casting director reminded me of course.

”And you’re sure you’re okay with shaving your head if you get this part? You have some pretty long hair so it would have to be pretty difficult,” he said.

I shook my head and tossed my hair that I wore in loose curls. “This old stuff? I’m not worried. I’m committed to getting this part and doing it well.”

”That’s what I like to hear! I’ll be seeing you soon,” the casting director said before calling in the next girl.

A Dream Becomes a Reality. Or is it a Nightmare?

That night, Kayleigh and I celebrated, only after we both got off of our shifts at our day jobs. She had also had a successful audition that day, for a job as a potential love interest on a different show. The casting director finally told her that she had everything he wanted and said something similar about chemistry testing.

”So you’d really shave your head for this job?” Kayleigh asked me over drinks.

”I mean, we said fully commit to the next audition right? It’ll be for a few episodes and then I’ll grow it back out. This will finally give me the chance to do more than just play the pretty girl. Plus I’ll just wear a wig,” I said with a shrug.

She reached out and touched my ponytail that hung down to my bra strap and then touched her own hair as well. “Okay, so clearly you’re the brave one here because I don’t know if I could do it.”

”Oh you’d do it. Remember the dare? That’s why I’m doing it,” I said, wistfully toying with the end of my hair.

”Yeah, sorry about that,” she said with a grimace.

I smiled at her and winked but turned back to my drink. It wasn’t her fault but I’d let her think it was. I’d never considered shaving my head, never even considered cutting it short, but now it looked like there was a very good chance that I’d be going bald. All in the pursuit of fame.

The chemistry test went off without a hitch. I read lines with the actor of the character whose devoted follower I’d be playing. His head was shaved and it looked like he had been off of filming for the last few days as he had a coat of brown stubble over his head. We worked well together, even though I was a little starstruck, and as I read a line with particular unnerving energy, he raised an eyebrow at me and looked at the casting director.

”Okay, I’m not telling you how to do your job, but she’s my favorite and I hope you hire her,” the actor named Seth said with a crooked smile.

My cheeks flushed at the compliment but I stayed professional and finished the reading. And within days, Rita got word that I had been offered the part. Remembering the dare, and my need for work outside of Hooters, I accepted the offer.

For the job, they wanted me fully blonde and sent me to an expensive salon to take my highlighted brown hair to full on blonde. It was a fun experience and I had never been a true blonde so to get that, even for a week had been fun. I even planned on going back to blonde once my hair hair grown back in a little. It was a good color for me and Rita agreed that it might help with getting future jobs.

The night before my first day of shooting, Kayleigh and I sat on the couch in our pajamas. She had also gotten the part for her show and would begin filming as well. We both had been hesitant to quit our waitressing jobs as neither part was guaranteed to last more than a few episodes and had worked as though we would be coming back.

”Can you believe we’re actually doing this?” Kayleigh asked as she gathered her equally long hair up into a high ponytail.

I had only worn mine down since finding out I would be going bald, wanting to enjoy my hair as much as I could while I had it. I stroked it thoughtfully.

”Nope, I really can’t. I can’t believe I’m about to be bald in a few days,” I said.

The show had told me that for the first few days of filming, I would perform with hair before the big day. Then, I would shave my head on camera, for the world to see. Or at least part of it. Then we would cut, the actual hair stylists would come in, finish the job, both with clippers and then ultimately all the way to the skin with a razor. After that, they’d coat my bald head with shaving cream and hand me a blunt razor to pretend to razor shave my head on camera.

Filming on a major TV show was the most fun I’d ever had. It was hard work, long hours, and could oftentimes be boring. But the cast and crew had welcomed me with open arms, maybe because they were being nice as I would soon be going bald, or maybe because I was a perfect fit for the show. I didn’t know but I wasn’t worried about it. It was a short running part anyway so as long as they were nice to me while I was on set, that was all I cared about.

The Big Day

Finally, it was the day. I had thoroughly said goodbye to my long blonde hair the night before because I knew I couldn’t react on set. There could be no reshoots, I could only shave my head once. I needed to remain in character. And so, I stayed in character all day. Everybody knew I was doing it and showed me plenty of grace as I behaved like a mad woman.

They handed me the clippers and showed me how to use them. I eagerly accepted them, deeply committed to staying in character. My eyes looked wild as the cameras rolled. I stared at myself in the mirror and plunged the clippers into the front of my hairline with crazed glee. Again and again, almost in a frenzy, I sent my perfect locks tumbling to the floor. Soon my sideburns and crown were shaved down to a bleached blonde stubble.

”Cut!” yelled the director.

I was met by applause. The whole cast had come in to witness this scene and show support. They all clapped and cheered, as did the crew. The director came up to me and shook my hand.

”You are a master of the craft darling! Well done!” he said.

I put a hand to my head in disbelief, “Holy shit I just shaved my head.”

”Well you started to at least, go with the hair department and they’ll finish the job. You’re a real professional, McDonald,” he said patting me on the back before turning to bark out orders.

My fellow bald actor, Seth, walked with me to the hair trailer where my head would be fully shaved. He offered me his arm and I took it as we walked.

”You killed it Michaela. I mean you absolutely killed it. I can’t believe you didn’t cry,” he said as he patted my hand with his.

”I’m going to when I get into that trailer, I’m just keeping it together for everybody else right now,” I whispered.

”I’ll sit with you. Since our next scene is together, they want me clean shaved too so we’ll both get shaved together. I know it’s not the same for me but I’m with you,” he said reassuringly.

As we sat next to each other in the chairs, I did as I said and I bawled. I knew it was coming and was glad to have the opportunity but it was still my hair that was getting shaved. The hair stylists were excellent and so kind and Seth held my hand the entire time. As I sat under the black cape, I just couldn’t stop the tears.

They began by shaving off the back of my head, where the bulk of my hair was. It helped because the incomplete shave only made me feel more hideous. I looked like an old man. Or a crazy woman, which I guess was the point. Then they worked their way forward, shaving the last bits of long hair before cleaning up the parts I had already run over with the clippers.

Then came the razor. My cast-mate had already finished his shave, under the careful hand of a professional barber, and now the mustachioed barber turned his attention to me. With practiced hands he used a pleasant, if not somewhat masculine, smelling shave gel and a straight razor to remove the stubble from my head.

I knew that I would be staying bald throughout the show and that he would be shaving my head several times, so after all of the tears I decided to try to relax and enjoy it, like I had seen Seth do in the chair next to me. Even though his shave was over, he still held my hand and I appreciated him for it. It made things feel a lot better that he was bald next to me.

The barber was quick and soon, I was truly bald. Like shiny, no shadow, no anything at all but skin. I couldn’t believe it when I touched it. It was smooth but also so sticky.

The barber massaged moisturizer into my scalp that helped with the stickiness and, as he told me as he rubbed my head, would help with any kind of itching. He assured me that any new growth would itch for a few days. I nodded my bald head as makeup set to work repairing what I had messed up my tears. It felt particularly strange when they blended in my face to my distinctly pale scalp.

After I was squared away with a bald head and fresh makeup, I was back on set. Everybody was so sweet. The director had told me that I looked “positively terrifying in the most flattering way” and I had wanted to cry again but maintained my composure.

That night, the cast took me out for drinks and continued to shower me with praise. Seth sat next to me the whole time and was my biggest supporter. And that he stayed throughout the next few weeks of filming. We bonded over our time in the hair trailer having our heads shaved and over sharing tips for bald head maintenance. I would miss him after my time on the show was over.

Hooters had fired me when I showed up to my next shift with a bald head. I hadn’t told them it was happening and, despite booking this spot I still didn’t have the money to buy a decent wig. I sincerely hoped that, although my time on this show would be coming to an end, it would lead to future jobs and, hopefully, more hair.

Unexpected Surprise

With the guaranteed episodes from my contract coming to an end, I thought my time would be up on this highly successful network TV show. That was until I got a text from Seth.

”Did you hear? The test audiences LOVE you! They want to keep you around!”

”What? No way! Oh my god you’re kidding!” I replied.

”No joke, they love you and think you’re the most badass villainess the show has ever seen! And they think we have great on screen chemistry together too!” He sent back.

”I seriously can’t believe this, thanks for everything,” I said back.

”You’re a star and I’m glad the world gets to see it,” he said.

I couldn’t believe it. Then I got the email from Rita that they were offering me a series regular spot on the show and I still couldn’t believe it. Until I saw the contract. And the money I’d be making. Then I believed it.

Kayleigh screamed when she saw my offer too. “We’re going to be rich!” she squealed.

I covered my ears in mock annoyance, “What do you mean we? I’ve earned this with blood, sweat, tears, and a bald head.”

”Oh yeah, what about that? If you’re going to be a series regular, are you going to have to stay bald?” She asked.

I hadn’t considered that and I scratched my head thoughtfully. It had been a few days since my last scene and, like the barber had said, the regrowth was itchy. I had no idea what plans they had for me, but like I had been dared to do, I would fully commit. Even if it meant staying bald.

And, it did mean staying fully bald. As my episodes started premiering, the support for me grew. I was rapidly becoming a feminist icon and even friends from back home were texting me and messaging me on Instagram. I was also stepping up my social media game as a budding star and found my follower count was growing rapidly.

Then more offers started rolling in. The season was wrapping up and, although I had signed a contract to be a series regular for the next season as well, I had a few months off. I got offers for villainesses, aliens, fantasy creatures, anything that needed a bald head. And slowly I became an icon for my bald head.

One season became another, and then another. For another five seasons, I was the badass, insane, and smooth-headed villainess named Cassandra. Fans had been overjoyed when Seth and I finally announced that our on-screen relationship had developed into an off-screen one and that we’d be getting married soon. And I also established myself in other roles in a wide variety of genres, TV shows, and even movies. But it all relying on one key feature that was now my trademark.

Now, several years into bald life, with wedding photos shot in a wig, with one kid and another baby on a way, I miss my hair each day. But I wouldn’t trade the career I’ve built for a lifetime of long beautiful hair. Because my bald head has made me who I am.

9 responses to “The Role of a Lifetime

  1. I feel the need to strongly protest… this abhorrent typecasting! Just because Michaela is bald it doesn’t mean she ought to be relegated to playing just villains, aliens or weirdos!
    +1 of course

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