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#InstaViral is a weekly series highlighting popular Instagram pages from social justice, entrepreneurship to entertainment with a focus on their viral factor.
Imagine you’re an actor trying to score your next gig. You tell your agent that you can rap, knowing good and well that’s a lie. Next thing you know, you find yourself in an audition room with the Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. While you’re pulling a 16 bar freestyle out of thin air, it’s safe to say you will not get the role.
Created by actors Danielle Pinnock and LaNisa Frederick, the weekly Instagram series “captures a raw slice of the #industrylife” and “laugh-out-loud improvisation.”
“We want to show what the joys and misfortunes are of this and what it’s like being an actor of color and going in for the one Black role and what those auditions are like,” Pinnock said.
“I think also, too, wanting to get our hands in as many things as possible because you can’t be a one trick pony, nor do we want to be,” Frederick said adding that both actors are starting their own journeys as content creators, producers and writers.
One sketch is based on the time Pinnock auditioned for a role as a hairstylist on Comedy Central’s Workaholics. At the audition, Pinnock spotted a woman in full wardrobe.
“This woman came in with hairspray. She had, like, two different wigs on her with mannequins,” Pinnock said about the actor who nearly came to the audition with an entire mobile-salon–blow dryers, flat irons and all.
“I was like, ‘Yo, I’m not booking this. This woman really came prepared.’”
Frederick and Pinnock, who both earned masters degrees while studying theater in the United Kingdom, are well-seasoned actors, so naturally, some of their sketches bring to life what it’s like auditioning as trained Black actors.
Frederick, who is originally from Ohio but has spent much of her life in Chicago, honed in on her acting at Chicago’s renowned Goodman Theater and Second City-Chicago where she trained in improv. Frederick has been in L.A. for two years now and has appeared in titles like CBS Young Sheldon and T.V. Land’s Teachers.
Hailing from New Jersey, Pinnock has a 10-year background in documentary theater and worked a couple of years at Chicago’s Goodman theater as well. She said her one-woman show Body/Courage brought her to L.A. In addition to co-creating #HashtagBooked, she is a recurring actor on Young Sheldon and appeared in the crossover episode of Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.
The dynamic duo credit the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage for bringing the two together. The two actors were cast as understudies in Nottage’s play By The Way, Meet Vera Stark at Chicago’s Goodman Theater.
“I’m telling you, Lynn is responsible for this, bringing us together,” Frederick said.
After meeting Nottage, who they dubbed their “Fairy Godmother of Theater,” the two became friends for good.
“We just started to really work well together and we just have been making each other laugh since then,” Pinnock said.
Since creating the series in February 2018, they now have a growing audience of actors and creatives, including actor Niecy Nash and Snoop Dogg, who have supported their content. The series’ Instagram account has received numerous DMs from people letting the ladies know how much they “feel seen.”
“To actually have a community that actually says, ‘Oh, we understand where you’re coming from. You’re telling our story,’ has meant so so much,” Frederick said.
Series such as HBO’s Entourage and Paramount’s Nobodies are known for covering similar topics but never with actors of color as the focus.
“It’s always from the white perspective,” Pinnock said. “So, we just got on my iPhone and recorded our first sketch, which was about commercial auditions.That was the first thing and the sketch went ablaze.”
The women say the goal is to soon see #HashtagBooked as a T.V. series. The co-creators are continuing to flex their writing skills by working on a pilot for the show.
#HashtagBooked allows for these two actors to play all the roles that are often not given to actors of color and shows people what it means to be a rising actor in Hollywood.
Frederick and Pinnock said they want to see more diverse stories in the mainstream both on and behind the scenes as the industry continues to grow.
“We are a patchwork quilt of folks. We have all these stories and everybody needs to have seats at the table, whether it be writer, director, grip, producer, sound boom,” Frederick said.
Follow #HashtagBooked on Instagram.