From the Vehicle of… Tracy Eliott

by Sara Israel

When you meet Tracy Eliott, you immediately have this hunch that this first time isn’t the last time you’ll hear from her or see her.  She radiates the talented confidence of an actress who gets things done.

What she’s currently getting done:  starring in “The Insidious Impact of Anton” for Absolute Theatre, an impactful company which she founded with Richard Tatum.  One night, on her way to the theater, Tracy snapped some photos of her car for us.  Let’s peek inside. . .  

Me:  Your car is adorable, and it seems like a really good fit for your actress/producer life.  Was that part of the point when you selected it?

Tracy:  Really, I’ve just been in love with that car since it came out.  When the time came, I did look at many, many other cars, just to be sure—but it was love at first drive.  It didn’t hurt, though, that we now had a car we could haul stuff in, since we were a two-sedan household for a few years, which was just not practical.

Me:  I’m gonna start with the front, because polka dots always get my attention.  I see a make-up case, that polka dot backpack, and—is that another bag next to it?  I have a hunch all of these items have very specific purposes.  So please tell us!

Tracy:  This is all the stuff that I tote to the theater, in this case, for “The Insidious Impact of Anton.”  The purple box is the makeup case.  I always say I’m going to get a new one, a better one.  But it’s so shiny and purple and girly, very much not me, and that just tickles me.

Me:  That’s so funny that you say that, because I also thought the case was adorable but I was surprised it was the one you chose to be yours!

Tracy:  I bought it when I went out on tour—and got my Actors’ Equity Association card—so. . . I’m partial to it.

Me:  That makes perfect sense.  And I like the notion of a make-up case being a very understandable piece of professional nostalgia for you.   Now what about the polka dot bag?

Tracy:  The polka dot bag is my “show bag”—whatever needs to go to the theater whenever I do a show, and stuff I don’t necessarily want to leave there.  In this case it’s a brush, hair products, curling iron and a few small costume pieces I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.  And my script, my ever-present script.  Normally it would also contain a water bottle, but I’m inherently paranoid, and since I am carrying costume pieces, I’m too afraid of water leaking—

Me:  That’s not paranoid!  That’s you being a responsible actor and smart producer!

Tracy:  So that’s what the other green bag is for.  My bag I tote around just in general, stuff too big to fit in my purse, or weird odds and ends, whatever book I’m reading.  So I throw the water bottle in that one.

Me:  I also see a couple of AAA maps peeking out– both Nevada.  Are you planning on escaping town in the middle of “Anton’s” run?!?!

Tracy:  [laughs] No, I wish!  I rarely throw maps away, even though I get new ones at the AAA whenever we go somewhere.  Those are either from a Vegas trip with a girlfriend around six years ago, or from a road trip the hubby and I made to Salt Lake City a few years ago, with a stop in Vegas.  Long story.

Me:  Well I’m guessing the umbrellas in your back seat aren’t left over from those desert road trips.  How many umbrellas do you have back there? 

Tracy:  Three?  I think.

Me:  Why?

Tracy:  I’m not sure they all work.  But I’ll bring an umbrella from the house to the car, but maybe it’s not raining when I get home again and so it stays in my car.  And the next time it rains, I bring another one to the car.  Et cetera.  Again, there’s a really good chance one or two are broken.  I should check.  Before the next rainy season.

Me:
  And what’s that pile of paper under which one of the umbrellas is hiding?

Tracy:  I think that is, in fact, the Thomas Guide.  My smart phone isn’t always that smart, and I don’t always have a navigation device with me, so. . . still like having it there.

Me:  I still have mine too, as well as some AAA maps, just like you.  We are paper people, I guess.  Which leads me to one of the questions I’ve asked all actors in this series:  Do you keep hard copies of your headshot and resume in your car?

Tracy:  In my car, no.

Me:  How often do you use hard copies these days?

Tracy:  To be fair, I’m not auditioning much these days.  Been taking time to. . . Oh, let’s just leave it there.  But even when I did, no, I never carried spare headshots/resumes in my car.  I have a folder with all my acting stuff:  headshots/resumes, postcards, monologues if I need a refresher.  I always have that with me when I audition.

Me:  That’s really cool, actually.

Tracy:  Only once in my life have I ever been a position to wish I had a headshot on me.  And in that instance, I was nowhere near my car either, so it wouldn’t have mattered.  I do still always have one on me when I go to an audition, but when I am out actively auditioning, I do everything online, pretty much.

Me:  The other question I’m asking everyone:  On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you clean up the car before snapping these photos for me?

Tracy:  Trick question.

Me:  Oh dear.  Really?

Tracy:  I actually had cleaned the car of all trash before the hubby took it to pick up furniture for “Anton.”  So I did that recently, yet before you ever emailed me about this interview.  I did, however, get a much-needed washing before I took the photos. . . Of course, it was just dumb luck that I’d just cleaned it, so let’s just go ahead and call it an 8.  My car is rarely clean.  I admit it.

Me:  I appreciate the honesty!  When you sent these photos, you explained that the pack of water in the trunk were for “Anton” concessions.  You also acknowledged the neon green paint explosion in the trunk. . . I’d love to know the story behind that one!

Tracy:  When my car was only a few months old—still probably had some new car smell—the theater company I was with at the time was moving.  Well, now I had a vehicle that could actually schlep some stuff, so I brought it over to load up.  And one of the trips I made was with paint.  In fairness, my friend who was loading my car paused, and said he could get a blanket to put down first.  “Nah,” I said, “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”  I blame exhaustion, stress of the move. . . or something.  Obviously, it wasn’t fine.  But I never bothered trying to do anything to remedy it, either.  It amuses me.

Me:  I feel like there’s a metaphor in all of that.  I can’t make out what it is exactly, but I can feel it in my bones.

Sara Israel is a writer and director living in Los Angeles.

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