Vilma looked up. The same woman that had shown her to the green room upon her arrival was standing there. Vilma put the script she had been reading back into her bag and stood. “Thank you Ms….?”
The woman gave her a quick up and down glance, taking all of her in. Vilma had been shocked by her brisk manner. The woman had dark grey hair that was cut in a short bob and a face that gave nothing away. She was just shy of four feet tall; for such a small woman, she had an incredibly large presence, almost as if it could not be contained in her small body.
She nodded, as if Vilma had said something. “You get the part and I’ll tell you my name. And I think you will. He’ll like you. Follow me.”
Vilma was led past the set builders; they were making a large cathedral and the air was filled with the singing of saws, the drone of drills and the thudding of hammers. The short woman led her to a plain faced door. When the woman opened it, Vilma gasped.
The office beyond the door was sumptuous. The walls were painted a rich chocolate brown and complimented by dark leather furniture. The floors were made of hardwood and shone as if lit from below. In the centre of the room was a white table with a crystal vase. In the vase sat one black rose.
“You can go in. Mr. Tivanga is waiting for you.”
“Where is he? I don’t see him.”
“He’s waiting for you.”
Vilma nodded and stepped into the room. The woman closed the door and Vilma experienced a feeling of being trapped. Trying to distract herself, she sat on the couch, took the script out of her purse and started reading it. Whatever the behaviour of his assistant, if that was in fact what the woman’s role was around here, Vilma knew that she was getting the chance of a lifetime.
Landing a part in a film by Tivanga was a once in a lifetime chance. It made an actor’s career. People went on to stellar roles, won Oscar’s and worldwide fame. If you were in a Tivanga film, it opened doors for you.
You couldn’t just audition for one of his films, however. You were invited to. Tivanga was notoriously picky and often chose unknowns to star in his films. It not only made their career, it changed their lives.
Vilma was not an unknown actor. She had starred in three pictures to date and done lots of television and stage work. She had been waiting for years to get the Part, the one that changed her career and turned her from passing fancy into a household name.
This was her chance. This was more than a role, this was the role. The only problem was that she had no idea which part she would be reading for. Her agent had called early in the morning three days ago, telling her that he was going to send her a script and that a reading had been booked.
He was strangely excited. Vilma asked him why he was acting so oddly and he answered with only one word: Tivanaga.
So here she was in a beautiful office, waiting to see if her life would change for the better. The script was for a film called Cascade and it concerned a woman who learned a secret about her lover. He turned out to be a high priest of some sort of black magic order. The further she delved into the darkness, the more she lost herself.
It was a powerful piece. Vilma only hoped that she would play the lead; it was the strongest female lead role she had ever read. She knew that Tivanaga wrote as well as directed his films, letting no one else into the writing process. Some interviewers claimed that he wrote as if he were channeling the words.
Hearing a rustling noise, Vilma looked up and at first could see nothing amiss. However, the rustling noise came again, from very close to her. She looked around again and noticed the black rose in the vase on the table in front of her. It was shivering and vibrating. As she watched it, the black colour of its petals began to fall away as if it were shedding the blackness. A vibrant red showed through, growing in dominance until it was no longer a black rose.
Vilma reached out to touch the flowers petals when a deep, gravelly voice spoke. “Please don’t touch the flower.”
Looking up, Vilma sucked in a breath. In front of her stood Carolos Tivanaga in all his glory. He was just as he looked in his promotional shoots: dark hair cut short, coffee coloured skin, bright blue eyes that seemed not to just look out at you but shine. He stood an impressive six foot six. Taking him in, Vilma was breathless for a moment before she extended her hand.
“It’s very nice to meet you Mr. Tivanga. It’s an honour.”
“The honour is all mine Miss Lopez. It’s all mine. Please sit.”
She did so and he pulled up a small chair she had not noticed before and sat down across from her. “Shooting begins in three days. You will have to sign a non-disclosure agreement and shooting will take three months. I look forward to having you in my film.”
Vilma was shaken. “You mean you want me for Cascade? But who will I be playing? My agent didn’t say.”
“Why the lead, of course! Did you not picture yourself in the role? Did you not see yourself in her features? I wrote the part with you in mind. I hope you’re not offended that I took such a liberty with your person. I was inspired when I saw you in Come and Catch Me. You were wasted in that film, but you were the only shining light worth watching. I watched it thirteen times so that I could bask in your light.”
Vilma shook her head. “I don’t have a light.”
“Oh, but you do. It’s why you’re here, why you were able to wake up the rose.”
She looked at the flower and it had grown fuller, more vibrant. “I don’t understand.”
Tivanga regarded her for a moment and then tented his fingers together. “You do have a light inside you. I employ people who shine, Miss Lopez. I don’t employ mere actors. You have to shine brightly and you do. I want to let that light shine through the film, through the celluloid, touching every heart in that theatre. A mere actor can’t do this. They are talking head, meat puppets without strings.”
“I still don’t understand. Why did you mean by waking up the flower?”
“That flower was dead. It was a husk of itself. Yet being across from you for a few moments was enough to bring it back to its full glory. That is your light, Miss Lopez, your shine, your essence. No mere actor has this, but you do. I want to use that, to pull the essence from you through your performance. I will make you a star.”
For some reason, Vilma shivered. She didn’t like the way he was speaking about her and it unnerved her for some reason. However, she knew that starring in a Tivanga picture was a once in a lifetime opportunity. She pasted a smile on her face. “I’d be happy to sir!”
He considered her for a moment and she wondered if he was going to speak. When he finally did, his voice was almost a whisper. “There is something you should know. I don’t usually tell any of my leading men or ladies this. But I will tell you.”
“What is it?” Vilma was frightened now.
“By the end of the picture, you will be a star, yes. However, there is a cost, a sacrifice. By the end of the picture, your light will be depleted. It goes out into the world for others like myself that need that light to live. You will be a star, go on to have any starring role you could wish for. But the light will be gone from you.”
He held out his hands in the air. “On one hand, mediocrity.” He raised his left hand. “On the other, stardom.” He raised his right hand. “Stars don’t come cheap. I can make you one, Miss Lopez. I can change your life. All you have to do is choose.”
Vilma believed him. He was being completely sincere and the fear in her grew until it was clamouring to get out of her skin. “Why are you telling me this?”
“I have never seen someone shine as brightly as you, and you have no idea of your true power. I must have your choice, Miss Lopez. Choose.”
Vilma looked at his upheld hands, what they could give to her and what they would take away. Vilma looked at his hands and knew her what her choice would be.
Dedicated to Vilma Lopez who is a star.