Chapter One – The Audition
I was nervous the day of the audition. I really hoped I would land a leading role in a new movie. I knew my chances were very good. It would be a major milestone in my virgin career as an actress. I had previously completed a series of script readings that had been taped and I was ecstatic when I got a callback. When my time came I was escorted into the audition room to meet the director and his staff.
“Well Tami, we are very impressed with what we have seen of you so far. You would be ideal for this role we think. Are you aware about the nature of the role we are considering for you?”
“Not really. I understand the movie is about a girl who overcomes some type of handicap, but that’s about it,” I replied.
“Yes, that’s true, but the nature of the handicap is very central to the role. The girl loses both of her arms below the elbow in an accident. She is fitted with prosthetic arms and the movie is about her learning to live without arms and a romance she has with her doctor,” the director explained.
“That sounds like a wonderful role to play,” I said enthusiastically. I imagined that it would be a difficult challenge to play such a role, but I knew I could handle it if given the chance. I was sure I would have to work hard at pretending I didn’t have arms, but I figured it would be something like wearing special gloves to immobilize my hands so they would look like artificial hands. I could do that I thought.
The director introduced himself and we chatted about my previous experience. He said that he was very impressed with my readings and that I fit the type of actress they were seeking. They wanted someone young and attractive, but not overly glamorous. They were looking for someone who an audience could relate to. I was very excited at the prospect.
“Well the problem we have had with most of the actresses we have interviewed is that they find dealing with the prosthetic arms a bit of a problem,” the director explained.
“I don’t think I would have a problem,” I stated without hesitation.
“Well I am sure you will when you learn that the arms have hooks for the hands,” the director said.
“Hooks?” I questioned.
“Yes, the kind that open and close. The girl needs to learn to use them to do everything. The use of her hooks is very central to the movie.”
I thought about this. I had no idea how I could even have hooks. I had hands. How would they be hidden? Nevertheless, I wanted the part and decided to continue to act enthusiastic.
“But how could I have those hook things, I have hands?”
“Well we will make a special prosthesis that is a little longer than usual and you would insert your curled up hands in it. The sockets would fit tightly over your real arms and hands. Your clothing would be designed to hide the extra length of your arms as much as possible,” another member of the staff explained.
“You mean they would actually work?” I asked.
“Oh yes, they would be fully functional,” he continued to explain. “The one problem is that it takes a long time to learn to use them. We expect our lead to appear very skillful in the second half of the movie. By then she would be armless for over a year.”
“I could learn, I think. I am sure it wouldn’t take that long.”
“Well unfortunately it does and we want the person to be totally convincing. This is the part that has caused us some problems with a number of the other girls we have auditioned.”
“What do you mean?” I asked not quite understanding.
“Well we feel the only way for someone to become skillful enough for the part is to actually live as an arm amputee for a period of time,” the director said.
“How long would it require?”
“We want our actress to live full time wearing her hooks for six months prior to shooting. During that time you would be learning the script and we would have preliminary rehearsals.”
“Full time? You mean a little each day?”
“No, we literally mean full time, from the time you get up until you go to bed. You would need to be totally dependent on the prosthetics for everything. You would lead a normal life other than the fact that you would be handicapped.”
“Wow! I don’t know, that’s a lot to ask.”
“We know and that’s why everyone has turned us down so far. We hope you won’t. We will make it easier for you by having a trained professional work with you to teach you and help you do things you won’t be able to do with your hooks.”
“You mean I won’t be able to do normal things?”
“There will be quite a few things you won’t be able to do by yourself. You will need some help dressing, shaving your legs, putting on jewelry and things like that. She would help you with all those things for the six months.”
“Do I need to decide now?”
“No, but we have several auditions remaining today and the first actress that accepts our terms will get the part,” the director said.
I thought quickly and decided that I really needed this part and I would accept regardless of how bizarre the terms. It couldn’t be that bad living for only six months with prosthetic arms. I had no idea what was to come. I never imagined that what I was to undertake would change my life forever.
“Okay, I will do it. What do I need to do?”
“Well first thing in the morning you need to go to our prosthetist and have a preliminary fitting done. When your hooks are ready we will set you up with Nancy, who will be your trainer and caregiver.”
Before I left I got the address of the prosthetist and then went through a couple of hours of going over and signing the papers to consummate the arrangements. I left in rather a daze, pleased and at the same time very apprehensive.