A long time ago, or so it seems now, the people of New York City went into a (mostly) voluntary two-week lockdown as it became clear that the COVID-19 coronavirus was spreading uncontrolled throughout the community. Two weeks would be sufficient, of course, to make it clear who had been infected, allow those cases to run their course, and halt any further spread. We loaded up on groceries, made the necessary adjustments to our laptops and our internet connections to allow for remote work, and retreated into our apartments. We snuggled up in our blankets, baked some sourdough bread, and prepared for a two-week break in our usual routines. And for a fair number of us, that break in our routine included a break from shaving.
As you have no doubt noticed, Constant Reader, the lockdown lasted a good deal longer than two weeks. By the time that first benchmark had passed, my beard had ceased being mere stubble, and had reached a point where it would hypothetically be presentable in polite society (assuming polite society were ever to be restored to us). So I kept it. And kept right on not shaving, as winter passed to spring, and then summer, and then winter again. And with a vaccine still off on the horizon at the time, I refrained from taking any risks by stepping into a barber shop. And so my hair grew, as the months crawled by.
I don’t look much like any of the photos on this website at the moment, is what I’m trying to say.
And that hasn’t been much of an issue in a world of remote work and zoom readings, but as live performances begin to resume, it’s a safe assumption that there’ll be at least a few auditions to be had for these productions. One could therefore argue that it’s time for me to get a long-overdue haircut, and return to auditioning for the clean-cut corporate roles that are my conventional “type,” and let everything get back to normal.
Except nothing is close to normal, and probably won’t be for a good long while. Plus I like my current shaggy look (and I genuinely mean shaggy – my hair is scraping my shoulders and my beard’s making it practically down to my sternum). And there’s plenty of roles for which it could be suitable – Shakespearean kings, let’s say, or hippies and derelicts, or nineteenth century abolitionists if that Lysander Spooner biopic you’re all jonesing for ever gets made.
In times like these, it pays to keep your options open.
So this past Friday, I threw a selection of (neatly folded) shirts into my travel bag and took the subway into Manhattan, having booked a session with my headshot photographer. It’s only been two years since I’d had my current ones taken – two eventful years to be sure, but still – so in a lot of ways things were largely unchanged. Jody (my photographer) is still in the same apartment, still furnished the same, her same photos on the walls. Her Chelsea neighborhood is just as I remembered it from the last time. Our personal rapport – a little-discussed but crucial element in this process – remains intact from the last time. Thankfully, my clothes still fit the same.
In other ways, of course, things are vastly different. And I’m not just talking about my hair.
It’s weird dwelling on my appearance to this extent – it’s just hair, come on – but given the role of one’s outward appearance in this business, and the expense involved in getting new headshots, it does represent a commitment of sorts. There’s a clear subtext to these post-pandemic headshots (which will be appearing on this website shortly), and to all of the changes that all of us have made in our lives, conscious or otherwise:
This is who I am now.
Or at least, depending on what parts might be forthcoming, it’s who I could be. Get on it, casting directors!