Jodie spends mornings looking at herself in the mirror. Here’s what she sees:
– tall, about 6 feet,
–African-American or maybe bi-racial,
–hazel eyes with a beauty mark just to the left of her right lip,
–thin in that scary way that models are thin.
No one, aside from Jodie, sees the same thing, however. When people see her walking down the street, this is what they see:
–short, about five-feet tall,
–pale, freckled skin,
–the beauty mark is more like a mole with a couple fine red hairs sprouting from it,
–she’s not fat, but she isn’t thin, either.
Since Jodie lives in Los Angeles, a city where delusions are an industry-standard, no one really cares that her image of herself and the way people see her are so at odds. No one except Jason, Jodie’s roommate for the last four years. Jason tries to be supportive. He’s given up trying to convince Jodie that she’s a pudgy, white girl with freckles and not some Tyra Banks lookalike. But this week, things have become more desperate for Jason, the reason for this we will get back to in a moment.
Jodie is an actress—at least she’d like to be. She’s talented. She’s not delusional about that. Louis, her agent, believes in her, and he’s stuck with her for years because he’s convinced that eventually, she will make him some money. He has good reason to believe this. Jodie’s always impressed acting coaches—even Ian Taylor once gave her the gift of a backhanded compliment, which is the closest that Sir Ian has ever come to giving an actor a hand of any kind in the thirty years he’s been teaching.
It goes without saying that Jodie is envied by many of her colleagues—even the tall model-types, who Jodie thinks she looks like. Some of these models quietly wish they were short, white and pudgy, if they could only be as talented as Jodie. Eventually, however, they learn what anyone who knows Jodie knows: that for all her talent, she’s never booked a gig.
Many a Hollywood director would love to have her in their films, but they want her to play the part of the friend, the homely sidekick. Jodie doesn’t understand why anyone would want to cast her for that kind of part, and she keeps turning offers down—much to Louis’ horror. Jodie just can’t see how her being cast as a sidekick could work. Why would anyone cast someone with her looks for the part of a sidekick? She assumes that it’s some kind of silly attempt to buck expectations—a director’s attempt to be original. Jodie, serious actress that she is, is not willing to do something that’s destined to fail. She’s good, she knows that much. But even the greatest actors can only do so much.
Jodie can be stubborn, needless to say, which is why Louis came up with a plan and why Jason is so desperate this week. A few moths back, Louis called a friend of his who owns a production company that specializes in cringe-worthy reality shows. His last hit was about swingers in the Appalachians, which became an immediate hit once it became clear that the swingers in question were related to each other.
Louis convinced this friend to produce a show called Mirror Mirror, a reality show about a budding actress who keeps going to all the wrong auditions because she insists that she’s a model and that she’s black or bi-racial—Jodie seems unclear on this last point.
The episodes of Mirror Mirror will follow the same format from week to week. A camera follows Jodie on her auditions and shows her dealing with the complications that someone with her condition has. Not that anyone says anything about her condition for fear that she might quit—something that Louis is especially interested in avoiding. But the truth is that everyone is pretty happy with the deal—everyone except Jason for reasons that will become clear below.
The producer is convinced that Mirror, Mirror will be a bigger hit than even his swinging hillbillies. In the pilot episode, two angry African American starlets who didn’t appreciate the way Jodie kept including herself in their community, got into an altercation with Jodie that left her with a bloody lip and a torn blouse. “They don’t get it,” Jason says in voiceover as we watch Jodie getting pummeled. “Jodie really does think she’s black. It’s not a joke. I don’t know. Maybe she is black. Who can know for sure?”
Part of the charm of Mirror, Mirror is watching Jason worry about his friend. He’s constantly trying to convince her to quit the show, but that seems unlikely. The money is great, and as part of the deal, Louis has managed to get her more auditions this month than she’s gone on in the last year. Some of the auditions slated to be appear this season are for an HBO show about a dominatrix-for-hire, an indie-film based on the life of an ex- beauty queen turned thief, and a network show about an ex-escort turned sexy spy who uses her appeal with both men and women to serve her country.
Jodie is ecstatic and hopeful, and the best part for the audience of Mirror Mirror is that she’s clueless about the looks she gets from casting directors who don’t know why she’s there or why she has a camera following her, which is why Jason suffers. Obviously he loves her, maybe he’s in love. It’s hard to tell that kind of thing on reality TV.
One thing that is clear is that Jodie is clueless about who she is. Or maybe she isn’t. Maybe beauty, like love, isn’t skin deep, after all.