About 15 years ago, I almost got a part that was to be a regular on a new Sherman Hemsley sitcom. If I remember correctly, I was auditioning for the part of his character’s secretary. After a long audition process, the part was down to me and a couple other ladies. We all had to go in for a “chemistry” read with him and to read for the producers and director.
At my audition, he walked onto the soundstage with jeans and a tie-dye shirt. He looked exactly the same from the days of All in the Family and The Jeffersons. He hadn’t aged a day. Unfortunately, I only met him 30 seconds before we were to read together so we never got to discuss how we would play the scene together or say more than “Hi, how ya doing?” and shake hands. Instead, the producers and director had us start the read right away. So we start the scene and there I am auditioning with Sherman Hemsley. Pretty damn cool. But sadly, I realized half way through the scene that I make Sherman Hemsley quite uncomfortable, in fact, I think I scared the shit out of him. Why? Because he was so incredibly short and I am so incredibly tall.
In my head I’m thought we should play up the size difference because there was a lot of funny material there. In fact, I kinda thought I would get the part because the height difference was comic gold. Well, as I have since learned over and over again, a lot men are sensitive about their height and he was one of them. As I read, he kept backing away from me any time I stood close to him. I swear he was looking at me like I was a monster. He was a bit wide-eyed.
I kinda realized during the read that I wasn’t gonna get the part because he was literally physically trying to avoid me. Definitely no chemistry at all. I decided I had to do something on the fly so I can remember my audition with Mr. Jefferson! There was a line or something in the scene where I was supposed to go up and make fun of him so he wouldn’t be able to back away from me. I went over, said my line and reached out and touched his famous bald head. He didn’t like that either.
So yeah, didn’t get the part but I touched his head (I swear it worked with the scene). The show never made it. It was a disappointing and awkward audition but I’ll never forget it. It was really cool to read with him even if perceived me as an Amazon SheMonster.
Oh yeah, he was also high as a kite.