Would I trade places? Hmmm
Once in a while I daydream about what it would be like to step into someone else's shoes, just for fun. I was in DC a few weeks ago and, as luck would have it, I got to go on a tour of the West Wing. We dipped a toe in the Oval Office, peeked into the Cabinet room across the hall and saw the garden between the offices and the Executive Residence. Once the tour was finished, we were allowed to retrieve our phones and take pictures in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.
Each seat had a designated spot for a network or newspaper. The front row was filled with the big networks: CNN, AP, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and Reuters. Second and third rows were newspapers and other outlets. There were stands for the cameras on the sides and in the back. I couldn't get enough of the room that I had seen so many times on television. I would have stayed there for hours.The ham in me insisted on shots in 'character' against that famous backdrop. I visualized standing on that podium for real, answering questions; the anticipation and excitement of dealing with the day's issues. It would be a blast. Or would it?
As an actor you memorize your script and talk in front of a camera. Or you read the lines in your voiceover booth. Either way, you have the opportunity to do retakes. Theatre is a little different but you still have time to rehearse and work on your performance. Not so for a press secretary. When you're standing at the podium, you're facing 49 seats in the briefing room with a battery of cameras in front and on the sides and dozens of people standing everywhere. All those eyes on you, waiting to get information because your job is to be in the hot seat. You have an idea but you can't be certain of the questions you'll be asked. Not only do you have to write press releases and speeches at the drop of a hat, you have to have a host of facts and figures at your fingertips, have a thicker skin than an elephant's and the composure of a swan.
While it was fun to clown around up there for a few minutes, I can't begin to imagine stepping into those shoes. I think I'll keep my voiceover and on camera acting jobs, thank you very much.
The day I became press secretary to the President of the United States, I was in an entirely different world from the one I'd been in the day before. ---Pierre Salinger
There's no job that will humble you like the White House press secretary job. ---Dee Dee Myers