I CAN’T DO THIS ROLE

My favorite Oscar Micheaux quote is:

“Your self image is so powerful it unwittingly becomes your destiny.” —Oscar Micheaux

 

I recall my first day sitting in studio of the acting conservatory in New York City.

The theatre director had each  actor sit in a circle and she asked each of us in the studio if we had a massive ego.

Let me tell you her exact words to me; “Charles Micheaux, do you have a massive ego?”

I answered her indignantly…”NO! I do not have a massive ego!” The theatre director smiled

broadly and sucked in more smoke from her Marlboro cigarette deep into her lungs, then she asked me why I was at this most  prestigious school to study classical theatre?

She went on to explain to me and the rest of my fellow  student actors that if we did not have a massive ego we were in the wrong place and we should leave now and not waste any more of her time.

She told us we must possess a very strong self image if we ever planned on having a career in stage and screen as an actor. “You have to see yourself as special, unique among the crowd of actors out there.”

This idea did not take long to take hold of me once I understood and faced up to the brutal truth about the actor’s life. When I began to audition for Off-Broadway shows I would walk into the audition space as if I owned it and everyone in it.

I walked in like a King, or a Champion Gladiator, I bellowed like a colossus Shakespearean

18th century thespian.  I’m sure some people thought I was crazy out of my mind, but my ambition was to stand out and be unique and different from the 10,000 other Black actors in New York.

Having a strong self image is the best thing a parent can teach their children.

I recall reading an article on Dr. Oz and he told the story of when he was a boy of 7 or 8

years old, he and his dad were standing in line at the post office and there was a boy next to them in line who was about the same age as Dr. oz.

Dr. Oz say’s his father asked the boy what he’d like to be when he grew up…the boy could not answer the question…he just had this blank look on his face and he was dumbfound.

In the car  driving back home Dr. Oz said his father told him all boys his age should have a dream of something they want to be when they grow up. Not having a dream was totally unacceptable to Dr.Oz’s father; I guess that’s why he’s a Doctor and not a trash collector.

“Your self image is so powerful it unwittingly becomes your destiny.” –Oscar Micheaux

I look back over my acting career and my days in New York…I amusingly recall sitting in the office of a Broadway Producer friend and he wanted me to do a play called ,

Master Harold and The Boys by South African playwright Athol Fugard.

I told the producer friend, I could not do the role.

This friend and Broadway Producer told me this play would be a big play on Broadway and I’d look to make about  $25,000 a week.

“Charlie, this show will bring Hollywood to You!”

I smiled, and repeated to him I just could not do the role.

He threw up his hands and arms in exacerbation…

“Why the fuck can’t you do this play? Charlie, this will be great for your career!”

I cleared my throat and told him again.

“Bernie, I appreciate everything you are trying to do to help me become a Broadway star,

but, I would never get through that scene.”

Bernie: “What scene?”   

 

“The scene where Master Harold spits in my face…that scene Bernie! That scene. It’s

insurmountable for me.”

Bernie: “Really! And $25,000 a week won’t change your mind?”

“Bernie, if I allow someone to spit in my face every night for a year I will not feel too good about myself. What would happen to my self image?

I, Charles Micheaux don’t want to know the answer so for the last time,

I can’t do this role.”

I also decided I would never even consider being in a play by Athol Fugard; in my view he is a writer that has no regard for actors, is there really an importance in spitting in a man’s face everynight? Is it so difficult for your words to convey disgust and vileness? I do not consider Mr. Fugard a worthy playwright and he is certainly not a friend to actors.

 

 

 

Charles Micheaux

Jekyll Island, Georgia 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “I CAN’T DO THIS ROLE

  1. Pingback: I CAN’T DO THIS ROLE | MICHEAUX PUBLISHING

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