Three and a half years ago, a famous Hong Kong director came here to New York to cast his Chinese gangster film, which was set in the city. I got so excited because in China, where I’m from, directors rarely hold open casting. I started imagining myself wearing leather pants, leaning against a car, smoking with the other gang members, and walking around carrying a gun. I knew I had to go to this audition. When I arrived there, I was extremely nervous. I met the director, and understood immediately that I hadn’t made an impression. I went home feeling disappointed.

A couple of months later, I found out that my friend, who was an actor, happened to have scheduled a private audition for the same film. He told me that the executive producer was Martin Scorsese. I asked him to give me all the details so I could meet the director again. I knew it wouldn’t make a difference if I just showed up feeling nervous, as I always am in that kind of situation.

This time, I handed him my laptop with the trailer of my movie, with me acting in it.Everyone crowded around to watch my trailer. The director kept his eyes fixed on it; he didn’t look at me directly afterwards, but simply moved on to audition the rest of the actors.I waited until the auditions had finished, walked up to him, and said, “Director, uh . . .  I’m shy… but . . .

Immediately he came back with: “You call this shy?!”

Then I said, “Yeah… but if you have a small role…uh… could you think of me?”

He looked at me and said: “Don’t settle for small roles! You wanna act? Go for big roles!”

I was so moved by his words.That night, my friend told me that he saw the director had marked my name on the list. I screamed and jumped around.

Finally, after waiting for weeks, I got called back to read for a role. This second audition was held at their headquarters. I was so embarrassed by the way I behaved and reacted. When they asked me to smoke, my first reaction was to say, “I don’t smoke,”and stare at them silently.After feeling I had ruined my opportunity, I went back again later that day, to show the director my weird movie in its entirety. When it was over, he patted me on the shoulder and said “good job.”

Weeks passed, no news came. I went to the casting office trying to listen in on some of their internal communications. An old man who must have noticed that I was stressed said, “You know what, it’s good for you that you weren’t chosen, because you don’t look like that kind of girl. You’re a nice girl.” At the time, I knew he was trying to comfort me, but I didn’t know how to feel about his comments.

That same day, I went back to the headquarters again, hoping the director would be there so I could try one more time. He was. I said, “Director, I brought my resume.”He asked me to come closer to put it on his desk, then said I was free to go. When I reached the doorway, I turned around and said, “If I don’t get cast, could I do something else instead?”

Then the assistant turned to me, “Your picture is on the wall. You’re featured.”I looked at the wall and saw my photo. It turned out they had picked me, after all.

The whole process, from beginning to end, took a lot of time. Winter turned into summer.That girl had such courage, even though sometimes she was silly and annoying. When I feel lost, I think of this story, to remind myself that she’s still with me.

Siting Yang is a sophomore majoring in Film at the School of Visual Arts.