I didn’t have room in today’s story about Roanoke County native Jen Lilley’s acting career to include her full answer as to how she landed a part on “General Hospital.” But I did want to share it, because it’s quite witty and opens a window into how things work in the Hollywood rat race. So, without further ado, here it is:
How did you get the GH gig?
It was crazy! I had actually gone in and met the casting director, Mark Teschner, about a month and a half before for a different role. The role was called, “Woman in White”. It was bar none, the weirdest role I had ever come across. She was basically “maybe” an angel, who came out of the woods one day with amnesia, and she was mysterious and powerful, and had the ability to draw men in like a moth to flame. So I went in for that role, I put extensions in my hair and wore a long white whimsical gown, and barely moved, and I locked eyes with Mark the entire time. I felt insane, to be honest. And when I got up to leave, I even said, “Thank-you for your time Mark, good-bye,” and backed out of the room, staring at him. haha! I don’t recommend going into an audition in character, and leaving in character, but I felt like for such an odd role, it was necessary.
I called my manager, Mitch Clem, afterward and he goes, “So how did it go?” I said, “To be honest, I did what I went in to do, but I’m not sure whether Mark loved it, or if I just scared the ever loving bejesus out of him, and he’ll never see me again!” So Mitch called Mark, and Mark said he liked it, but he didn’t think I was the perfect fit for the role. He said he would definitely remember me and call me in for a different role.
Then a month and a half later, a casting call went out for “25ish, sexy, hip, quirky, has vitality, charisma and personality” and said they “strongly prefer” a blonde, and that the role would last one to two months on a recurring basis.
My manager and I decided I fit that description, and Mark did say he would see me again. So we submitted my comedy reel*, even though it’s a soap, because I have that type of character on it. Mark saw over 1400 reels, and then he selected 8 girls to audition for producers the very next day (Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011) I was one of them. What’s funny is, my manager told me that they already had an offer out to a celebrity, so my only job was to go in there and have fun. And that night, I got so ill that for the first time in my life, I almost cancelled the audition. But I figured, “Jen, it’s only a 15 minute audition, just suck it up and do it.”
After my audition, Mark said, “That was pretty F***ing fantastic! Pardon my French!” I laughed, then the executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps started laughing and said, “Mark, I don’t think any actor minds calling up their manager or agent and saying, ‘they said it was pretty f***ing fantastic!”
So then I got a call back to meet and read with Bradford Anderson, who plays Spinelli, that afternoon. When I got to the callback, it was just me and two other girls, neither of which were celebrities. And I realized, “Oh my gosh, Mitch tricked me, this is actually within reach. I can book this! I’m going to book this!” I went in last, and then they said, “Can you wait out in our lobby for a couple of minutes?” At this point, I knew I booked it. They came out of the room 5 minutes later and congratulated me, asked me if I got overwhelmed easily, handed me 12 scripts (over 100 pages each), and said, “You start tomorrow. Let me show you around the building and introduce you to everyone, oh, and by the way, you’re replacing Kirsten Storms, she’s sick.” It was that fast. It was insane, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
* a reel is a short 3 minute video featuring several clips of my work