Season 3 of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows Midge on tour with Shy Baldwin fighting for her place in the world while the rest of her family struggles to cope in New York. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Two-time Emmy Award Winning Best Comedy) took home the Emmy for Best Ensemble this year. In Episode 3: “Panty Pose”, I play CeCe – a daft girlfriend of wealthy Vegas mobster, Angie Calabresi (played by Lenny Venito).
I want to be candid and say that I never thought I would be on the show. I was a fan and (so I thought), nothing else. I was nervous to audition and be faced with the “could-have-been” reality of getting so close to a dream come true. When I showed up to the studio to audition, I was overwhelmed by women who (I thought) were much skinnier, prettier, better qualified, etc. all lined up for the same role. All that aside, if I didn’t give it my best, I would never forgive myself. So, I went in to give my most authentic self and left the room not thinking “I booked it!” but thinking “you were 100% confidently yourself, and that’s all that matters.”
The next day I was waitressing a private event when I got the call. I ran out to the stairwell to make sure my agent was saying what I thought he was saying. The next twenty minutes was a haze of giving my parents the call I had always wanted to make and looking at a script with my name watermarked on it.
Now, Cece had one line. In our industry that is a co-star and fairly common, but to me this was an earth-shattering event because it meant I was on my way. This meant I was worthy to be a part of the dream – not just a dreamer.
The first day of fittings was when I was hit with a good dose of reality. Out at Steiner Studios, Maisel has the largest collection of clothing I have ever seen. Extras at the salon getting haircuts, women holding up dresses that looked like they came from a time machine. I went back to meet the costumers and saw two racks filled with the most exquisite dresses I have ever seen that, I soon realized, looked far too small to ever fit me. You see, when I sent my measurements I was still in a haze of “I really got the job??” that I accidentally wrote a hip size for that of a pre-teen instead of a woman with real sized hips. Dress after beautiful dress was repeatedly squeezed over my body until the women just took both the racks away and left me in my far too tight Spanx and corset bra. I started spiraling and telling myself an ugly narrative.
“They made a mistake.” “Who was I to think I could be on TV?” “They are probably laughing at me.”
In reality they were probably just frustrated with me that I put in the wrong measurement. But when you struggle with body image, it is easy to make assumptions. About twenty minutes later a new rack arrived and I was photographed in a flurry of golds and silks. Before I knew it, I was back out on the street rubbing my now released ribs. Sore.
I couldn’t believe that my dream bubble had popped that quickly. But see the problem was not with the dream. The problem was with me. The problem had been there a long time and I just needed someone to shine a light on it. These women had so many people to costume – they weren’t thinking about me or how I didn’t actually have a 29” hip. I eventually realized this was the wakeup call I needed. It was time to re-learn some self-love. Because I had booked the role. It wasn’t a mistake. And it was now my job to remind them of that.
After about five different scripts had cycled through my email inbox, it was go-time. I was driven to my trailer around 8am and was happy to see a beautiful dress I genuinely could not remember trying on. Sitting on my little bench, shaking from too much coffee, I reminded myself all I had done to get there that day and say my one line. And after a couple of breaths I put on those tight Spanx.
Hair and makeup, as you can guess, was a dream come true and after my hair had been sufficiently dyed and rolled, I was ushered into glittering Las Vegas for a blocking rehearsal. This moment was the one I had imagined over and over in my head. No one looked at me and said “what is she doing here?”, instead they welcomed me by name.
The rest of the day was a beautiful blur. Rachel was everything I had hoped she would be – kind, inquisitive, and a fantastic actor. Once I let myself relax, as much as I could in those Spanx, I drank it in and I had a good time. Ate lunch with people I had only ever looked at through screens. Hours flew by and suddenly I had my Uggs back on and everything was being zipped off – diamonds removed. I left the trailer with my name on it and hopped back on the subway asking myself if that had really happened?
And it really had.