Andrea Mendez: Creative Non-Fiction Piece

Fortnightly Payments

I’d heard graduates call it all sorts of things but “soul crushing for an artist” I found to be the most accurate description.

The dude across the room is a muso. He’s almost a caricature of one. Long coat, fedora hat, guitar case – he’s white but mean about it. His face is saying he’s above us all and his bodies saying “my guards up and I’m ready”. Ready for what? I don’t know but one time my phone almost got stolen by a Mysterious White Guy ™ so I look away. You just never know.

I wonder what I look like to him…

A year ago I was here wearing chola lipstick and a cool denim jacket. I was trying to trick myself into thinking I was in the start of a star is born kind of movie, I just needed to attend a few more of these Centrelink meetings and soon enough I’d be Discovered ™.

It’s now a year later and I’m in my shabby cardigan and bedtime trackies, wearing thongs to air out my feet – they smell from working all week and not showering. I’m sleepy, my guards down and so’s my confidence. It’s been a rough year. I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going – Is a life in the arts worth dealing with this shit on the weekly? No one’s going to put me on TV. I’m too 12, too sideburns, too brown, too androgynous but not in a hot mainstream kind of way. Voice acting isn’t much of an option either; I have a voice that is way too common. Never thought mastering the art of sounding white on the phone could be a bad thing.

Those 9-5 hacks agree. They look at me with pity and brush over my dreams with suggestions of truck driving and cleaning work. These are all jobs my parents have done.

These are all jobs my parents have done.

I come to the realization that I’m going full circle of life despite all my privilege of being brought up here. I begin to quietly have some kind of crisis while they blabber on- “Unless you’re on Neighbours or Home and Away you need…” I need a damn break.

My attention turns to the whiteboard behind their head. There are words scribbled all over it, remnants from some hellish compulsory support group. The title reads:

Are you living the life you love now?

Mierda.

Andrea is a Salvadorean actor and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre Practice) graduate from the VCA. Credits include Anfisa in Three Sisters (dir. Melanie Beddie), Sally in Falling Petals (dir. Lara Kerestes), Pichet Klunchun’s Dancing with Death (Arts Centre Melbourne), Arkadi the Singer in Caucasian Chalk Circle (dir. Michael Kantor), Try Not to Mumble (La Mama), NEVER (Melbourne Fringe 2017), Ophelia/Machine (Melbourne Fringe 2018, Emerging Writers Award recipient), Balthasar in We Three (Gasworks) and Glitch (ABC TV). She is also a writer and was a guest speaker at ‘A Raven, A Desk’ (EWF 2019) and has recently been published in Overland.

Andrea’s Instagram: @anmdez

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