ATLANTA - Call it bold. Call it desperate. Whatever you call it, it had an impact.
New Jersey-based actress Racquel Bailey really wanted to be in a Tyler Perry production, so last month, she rented two billboards near Tyler Perry Studios in southwest Atlanta for $2,000 and plastered her face on each with the following message: “Attention Mr. Perry: Racquel Bailey is your next leading lady.”
One billboard came up on May 6. The other was posted a day later.
On May 8, Bailey said, Tyler Perry Studios responded.
A casting agent called her, impressed by her motivation.
Bailey flew down to Atlanta and auditioned last month for a pilot of a show Perry is working on.
Bailey, a stay-at-home mom with two children, has not heard back whether she got the part, but she was thrilled to get the opportunity.
“I’m patiently waiting,” she said.
A contact at Tyler Perry Studios confirmed Bailey had indeed auditioned.
Bailey, 32, said she actually rented a billboard for $1,400 seven years ago near Perry’s original studio, asking for a chance.
The billboard idea came to her at the time after watching “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” an HBO biopic starring Halle Barry.
She recalled Dandridge was told the only way to get an agent’s attention was to get her face on billboards. As an alternative, she scattered her headshot photos all over the man’s driveway.
In 2012, Bailey’s billboard gambit got no response.
“I didn’t get the results I wanted the first time, so as they say, if you don’t succeed, try, try again,” Bailey said.
Over the past seven years, she decided to work hard at her craft, take acting classes, do plays and get as much stage time as possible. She landed a recurring role on an HBO series “The Night Of” in 2016 but was still awaiting her big break.
In 2019, she still had a hunger to work with Perry.
“He’s one of the best,” she said. “His caliber of work is something that I can definitely see myself in.” So she decided to try again.
Jason Lockhart, a talent agent at Atlanta Models and Talent, said he liked Bailey’s ingenuity: “I respect those who think outside the box and go after what they want.”
Tyler Perry posted the following response to his Instagram page Wednesday evening.
Auhhh.... soooooo...... here’s the deal. This is not the way to get my attention if you’re looking for a role in one of my shows. Please DON’T DO THIS, SAVE YOUR MONEY!! This is the third time that someone has done this. PLEASE STOP! To audition is FREE!! I’m sure you can use that money for a better purpose. I love that you want to work with me, and I love that you invest in yourself. But when you do things like this it puts my team on high alert and makes me look at you sideways. I know the message that you want to send is a positive one, but this comes across as the opposite. Again, the best way to work for me is to AUDITION and it’s FREE! We post breakdowns all the time for actors. JUST COME AND AUDITION. And by the way, you were great in THE NIGHT OF! It was my favorite show a couple years ago. I ALREADY SAW YOU!! So just audition and keep your money!! Again, I appreciate your effort, but that’s not the way to work for me. God bless you dreamer. I have no doubt you will make it one day!!
This article was written by Rodney Ho, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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