This Advice From Alan Rickman Got Bree Elrod Cast in ‘Red Rocket’

Article Image
Photo Source: Spencer Alexander

The following Career Dispatch was written by Bree Elrod, who stars in Sean Baker’s latest feature for A24, “Red Rocket.” 

“Trust time.” Those are the two words I would write on a matchbook and slip into my former self’s pocket. In this industry, as in life, it’s only time that will heal the hurtful moments and make sense of the confusing ones.

I spent three years in NYU’s graduate acting program rolling around on the floor, studying Chekhov, and professing love to a trash can. Upon graduation, I was thrown into the unrelenting world of hustling for auditions. Managers and agents didn’t know what to do with me. One manager, in an exasperated attempt to make me more marketable, sent me to a high-end hair salon, convinced I would work better as a blond. 

Though I had spent three years doing everything from Shakespeare to Shepard, I was now staring at what “the business” wanted me to be. Not surprisingly, I soon parted ways with this manager. I was devastated. Maybe she was right. Maybe I was too different to fit into this carefully carved-out world of stereotypes. I took it very personally.

“He saw something in me that I wasn’t yet ready to trust or nurture.”

Shortly after this period, I nearly ignored an audition for a one-woman show directed by Alan Rickman. I thought, Oh, sure, I’d love to go be uncastable in front of Alan Rickman. But I took the call, worked hard, and showed up. And guess what? I booked the job. Alan just “got me.” He saw something in me that I wasn’t yet ready to trust or nurture. He went on to become one of my biggest mentors. When I told him about my frustration with the business, he said to me, “Bree, don’t you know how lucky you are? The roles you do book, the people who do get you—it will be worth it.” 

And he was right. As I now attend festivals for Sean Baker’s “Red Rocket,” I’m reflecting on the road that led me here. It has not been easy. I’ve moved states, lost love, and been rejected more often than I’ve booked work. But I’ve always been unapologetically me. I’m grateful that Sean Baker also just “gets me.” He gave me an opportunity to play Lexi, a heroin-addicted former porn star trying to make ends meet and live some semblance of a good life. All of my life experiences—the pain, the heartache, and the joy—were right there at my fingertips to use as I explored Lexi’s world. 

So to you, my former self, or anyone who needs to hear it: As you grow as a person and artist, you will become more aware of who you are in this world and in this business, and it won’t be neatly defined. It most likely will be messy, and that’s awesome. Time will lead you to the people who “get you.” Until then, you have to shine bright on your own. And let me know if you need me to drop a matchbook in your pocket. 

Are you different? Come sit by me. I love you, and I can’t wait to see what you do with the light inside of you.

Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!