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Perfectly Priced  

The perfect level of fame is hard to pull off unless the right people know your name. You have to carefully walk the line between being in and out of the public eye.  

The best way to do that –from my experience- is to be the only and orphaned child to wealthy parents and grandparents who were also only children.  

My name is Belle and just like in the book, I was genetically very pretty. Actually, my name is ‘Annabelle’ but that gets associated with scary dolls. Thus, I put ‘Belle’ on everything. And just like Disney Belle, I have medium long, chestnut brown hair and I have hazel eyes that lean more green than brown. Especially after my colored contacts are put in. I am about 5’8 but my heels usually make me 6’1. And after a surgery, I had a perfect button nose.  

I said ‘orphaned’ but both of my parents are alive and they, thankfully, forget I’m alive usually. They had a pre-nup due to their individual wealth. To make up for their absences, they both keep my bank account filled. My grandparents do the same. Their work made them money and kept them away from the house in Beverly Hills, where I reside.  

Some people say “Your parents’ money won’t last forever” but I don’t think that’s a real worry for me. I am the sole beneficiary to all six of my grandparents (couple remarriages, all still wealthy) and to both of my parents. It was a part of their pre-nup that instead of the spouse getting money upon death, it was to split amongst any children. And they had only been in each other’s physical proximity long enough to have me.  

School had been a breeze- I only had physically had to go to school until high school and then I had online school with private tutors. I wasn’t a great student but guess what? Teachers don’t make jack. Sooo, if you slide them a stack of cash after school, your grade goes up without any extra studying. If the principal finds out, a gratuity check their way makes them look the other way. Same with tutors; a lot of them are struggling college kids tutoring for petty cash and school credit. If you make that petty cash a little less petty, suddenly they just write the essay for you.  

I wanted to have a bit of fame, though, not just be rich with no press. So, I got an agent and took a few acting classes. You can’t pay someone to act for you but almost anonymously buying new supplies or paying for the studio rental can get the instructor to give you extra attention and a few bonus points.  

I honestly wasn’t bad, especially for the smaller roles I wanted. I didn’t want to be on set for more than a couple days and didn’t want to have to memorize a thousand-something lines either.  

It used to be there was no such thing as ‘bad press’ but in the age of twitter that was no longer true. The court of public opinion was ready to cancel anyone for just about anything. So again, it was important to not be too famous but just famous enough to be relevant.  

I aimed to land small roles in big productions. Getting a spoken line or two moves you up in the credits and your name gets passed around. Stay out of the leads so the world doesn’t scrutinize you as heavily and you reduce the chance of fanatic stalkers. Yet, you still get to go to premiers, get gifted, and get the perfect level of fame. Paparazzi is fine as long it’s with a big name- be the teen Kim Kardashian to a modern Paris Hilton. The bigger face gets all the hate and shame, you get your picture and name on the side with an arrow saying ‘so-and-so's acquaintance’.  

And nothing changed from school years either.  

If a producer or director didn’t want to cast me as a person who got to have a short conversation with big star at first, they changed their minds after I made their budget increase. Or if I did an audition and I was the runner up, the original first choice would suddenly drop out because the check I gave them was larger than the one the studio was offering.  

I loved the glitz and glam of it all. I loved getting my hair and makeup professionally done regularly. I never cooked; I went out for every meal. I loved being in just the right position to attend award shows and get to go to fancy parties in designer outfits. Private gym access that had complete spa packages. Parties on yachts, in exclusive clubs with top shelf drinks, and designer goody bags filled with luxury. All without having to make fake-y public apologies or exhaustively travel for a barrage of boring talk-shows. And since making money wasn’t my priority, I could just lay low if I wanted.  

And every pothole in the road of life could be quickly filled with a quick Venmo.  

Until I met Rebecca Gardenia.  

Chapter 2 

I had just finished a spin class at the gym when my agent, Dawn, called to inform me that the perfect role had come up. It was for a new HUGE release movie that was littered with big name stars and some big designer names-for stage and attire- were working the movie. I had only done a few one-time TV/Hulu series roles lately and they hadn’t had any big-to-dos; they were just things to do.  

I was so excited. Big productions like this had make-up artists that almost exclusively used products from brands like Dior and YSL. And the goody bags at the after-party and premier had the latest gadgets and accessories in them. Why buy your own Beats earbuds or Gucci sunglasses when you could get paid to be gifted them? Not to mention the bump in views and notoriety I wanted. I had to have this role. I immediately told Dawn to confirm my commitment.  

“You have to audition this time” she told me.  

“How much do you think the check needs to be for me to secure the role?” I asked quickly.  

“It’s a really big budget movie, with wiggle room. I don’t think you can pay into this one” Dawn said and I could practically hear her wince.  

“Ugh, all right, set me up.” I replied with a huff. It was annoying when I had to actually go try out and not just have the role ready for me. I mean, my roles are usually servers or secretaries the main characters interacted with once or twice. It wasn’t like I needed to prove I could do ballet or anything. Dawn sent me the time my uber black was arriving to get me to the salon and then to the studio for the audition. She also said she would have the screenplay dropped off at my house in an hour. I booked myself a massage since I felt tense.  

I arrived at the audition, one of four, ready to go. I looked better than two of the other three, so I felt confident they would see I was camera ready. I had even worked with the co-director on other things a couple times. And if all three had the audition of the first, I wouldn’t have to whip out my phone for Venmo.  

Unfortunately, she was the only bad audition. And when the girl who was announced as ‘Rebecca Gardenia’ went out, she made the small group judging laugh. She was charming but she wasn’t camera ready. She either was fresh-faced or the makeup was very, very natural. Her hair was even frizzy, like she hadn’t bothered re-brushing it. I had enough hairspray to create my own hole in the ozone. I swallowed a little when she performed too. She was really good, it felt natural and flowing. And as she walked off stage, I noticed the producers etc. all nodding and having positive expressions. I watched Rebecca from the other side of the stage and was so focused on being ticked at her that I missed my cue.  

I went out, apologized, and gave a friendly wave to the co-producer I knew. He smiled back and leaned over to whisper something to the main producer. She had a pleasantly-surprised look on her face. I did quite well, because they said so, and told us all to try another part before they made a decision. Then they dismissed us and told us they’d be in touch.  

I didn’t get the role and I didn’t fret-this happened before. Dawn informed me that I was close second to Rebecca, who had been cast in the role. So, I got Dawn to give me some information about Rebecca- like where she currently worked. It wasn’t stalking because you just look up someone’s Instagram to get that info they willingly shared to the public.  

And most would-be performers had their main gigs be post-mates or real-life servers and they ‘acted on the side’. Rebecca was no different. She had next to no followers on Instagram and she worked at as a bartender at a local golf-course.  

I went there on a Tuesday since it would be dead and I could catch Rebecca alone. Being in the service industry explained why she had such a personable demeanor on stage and she greeted me with that same demeanor when I approached the bar counter.  

“Hey, how may I help you? Hey...I remember you. A few days ago, at the audition? Sorry you didn’t get the role. Did you try out for some of the other ones? I tried out for all of them” she gave a friendly laugh then leaned on the counter slightly a smile.  

I used my acting skills to give her back a smile. “Haha, yeah. That was me. Listen, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. For such a big movie title and budget, don’t you think you’re getting underpaid?”  

I used this line a lot. But it didn’t pay off this time.  

“No. This is one of the best gigs I’ve had.” Rebecca replied, as she casually, dried a glass.  

“Well, I mean it’s ok. But listen. Let’s make a deal. You turn down the role and I’ll pay you more than what they’re offering” I said. I fanned out several Benajamins on the bar to show I could make good on the offer.  

Rebecca raised her eyebrows to acknowledge the gesture but shook her head. “Nah, it’s not just about the money. I want this role; it could be my big break. I’ve had a lot of small bit roles but I need something big to get bigger”  

“I know some other producers and so does my agent! I could get you something better too” I offered.  

“Why don’t you get them for yourself, then?” Rebecca countered.  

I looked at her incredulously.  

“I only want somewhat small roles; it keeps the fame down to manageable level.” I started to explain, but she cut me off.  

“Then get one of the several other smaller roles in the movie” she suggested with a shrug.  

“I want this one!” I retorted. 

“Well, so do I and I got it, fair and square” Rebecca shot back.  

“No one says that anymore” I said as if Rebecca was being the pathetic one here.  

“I can pay you double!” I cried, pulling out more hundreds.  

“It’s. NOT. About. The. Money” Rebecca emphasized. “Well, it’s not all about the money. This is my dream; this is what I am passionate about! I have something to prove to my family and friends back home in Ohio who mostly dismissed my dream of acting for a living. This is a big chance for me and I’m not losing it”  

“You can lie! You’ll be getting more money than the actual role can pay you and you can just tell your family you got the role without doing all the early show-up work.” I argued.  

“And what happens when they go see the movie and I’m not in it?” Rebecca demanded.  

“There’s no guarantee the scene you have actually ends up in the final cut anyway! Just tell them it got cut out in editing!” I practically shouted. And it wasn’t a lie- that happened to me but as long as I could still attend the premier and after-party I didn’t care.  

“I. Am. NOT. Giving up the role, Belle! End of story. Why do you want it so bad? Your, apparently, so connected and whatever” Rebecca snapped.  

“Because this kind of movie gig has elite events and parties with it! I know, what if I actually do the role but leave your name in the credits?” I was getting desperate.  

“No.” Rebecca said flatly and stiffly pointed towards the door.  

I tried waving the fan of Benjamins with a suggestive brow raise and Rebecca narrowed her icy-blue eyes, and re-pointed to the door.  

“UGH!” I yelled and stormed out of the bar. Unbelievable.  

I ended up not getting any of the other plausible roles in the movie either. Then to make it worse, I learned via social media that the parties, premier and gift bags had been amazing. And Rebecca only went to the premier because after she flew back to Ohio to celebrate with her family.  



August 18, 2022 18:49

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1 comment

Jeannette Miller
00:11 Aug 23, 2022

What an empty life this person leads, geesh. It flows naturally with her narration of her background and current living situation. It's a good take on the prompt and I could imagine her and the sound of her voice quite well while reading.


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