Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Almost Famous

The sticky residue of yesterday is still with me today, but since there has been interest expressed in my acting past, I thought I would share a bit.
I got my S.A.G. card less than a year after moving to L.A. Getting your guild card is a pretty big deal because it affords you union protections, you are a professional actor, it's something you need if you intend to act as a career. It's not easy to get, there are a few different ways, but mostly, you need to get the attention of a casting person.
I got involved with young writers and directors from USC, did a few student films which weren't great, but doing favors for up-and-comers can lead to future rewards. I did some extra work, which pays okay if you're S.A.G., and offers interesting opportunities to be on-set and see behind the scenes of films and television. Definitely got to experience the unglamourous aspects of movie-making. I think the worst was doing a bikini carwash scene on a chilly L.A. night for a pretty crap movie, and the scene didn't even make it into the final cut.
I did workshops and took acting classes, "networked" as best I could, but if there's one piece of advice I would give to anyone trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood, it would be: don't get married before your career takes off. I know that sounds bad, and I'm not saying that you need to sleep your way up the food chain, but being married doesn't help. You have to be extremely goal-oriented to have a decent acting career, which is probably why a lot of actors are seen as selfish and seem to have relationship problems. You really have to want it more than anything else in the world. That's such a cliche, but cliches exist for a reason.
It's a really, really tough business, and I have to say that I just didn't have the wherewithall to keep at it. Viveca Fox spent ten years in L.A. before finally getting some recognition. George Clooney did thirteen T.V. pilots before E.R. got picked up (and he had a famous aunt). NSA's health deteriorated and our internal and external resources were taxed to the limit. It's also disheartening when there's always someone younger, more talented, better looking and better connected than you. Again, actors have a reputation for being egotists because they have to be. When you're constantly taking knocks, you react by bolstering your self-esteem, sometimes to ungodly levels.
I met a lot of gorgeous and wickedly talented people. Michelle, beautiful strawberry blonde, I expect to see at the Emmys some day. Joseph, who has the look, the drive, and the attitude to make it. Bryn, who appears regularly in commercials. The three people I know who are having the most success aren't in front of the camera. Rob is a producer with several indie films under his belt, Jennifer works in production with Michael Moore, and Rita does make-up.
I had a lot of fun, went to parties, hung out in some beautiful homes. Do I wish circumstances would have been different? Yes. Am I terribly bitter? A little. Do I still hold out hope that I will have a taste of fame and fortune? I do, because I have a secret that I've kept, a reasonably juicy one, and if I can finish my autobiography, then maybe I can get some of what I want.


Susan said...

J. finish the book, please !?! and memoirs are so hot right now. And a California, LaLaLand, ex stripper memoir to boot. I say chaching chaching !

Wow, your life is so totally opposite of mine. Which is very cool.

hugs from snow in the forecast and snoring Dixon's

Lisa said...

I think your book will be fascinating, even without a juicy secret. But that is just the icing on the cake.