You're fresh from the midwest & just stepped off the bus (or in my case, spent 3 days driving cross country from Ohio with my ex-bf, my cat & 25% of my life in a car. The other 75% got shipped). You see the big sign on the hill, the stars on the sidewalk and the palm trees that reach to the sky.
Welcome to Hollywood, what's your dream?
And that's when the "agents", "managers", "casting directors", "decision makers", "photographers" are like....great, that's nice. how cute. well guess what? we're here to destroy that dream, tear you apart and send you packing back to wherever you came from with their "scare tactic" scare quotes. Only the strongest will survive & even then, you're bound to fall for some of these scary cliche quotes at least once. I know I have....even as recently as a year ago. Then you realize there's some serious bullshit in this town at times. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice....yeah,(usually) not happening.
Here are some beautiful examples (thank you to some of my actor friends who I asked to give me some of the "words of wisdom" they've heard over the years)
The most famous being: "you'll never work in this town again" (or some variation of it). I've actually fallen for this one a couple times.
First, as a model (which is what I originally came to L.A. to do), I had a portfolio test shoot with a photographer who has shot tons of famous people from all sorts of career fields (sidebar: a test shoot is usually when a photographer is updating his portfolio/testing new equipment & the model works in exchange for photos. no one is getting paid money either way). Now I figured the guy was famous & worked with the top modeling agencies in town, so it wasn't a problem going to his home studio or going by myself since he had an assistant there as well. WRONG. He sends the assistant away, starts rubbing his hand on my leg, asking me if I'm a bad girl. I mention that I'm getting uncomfortable with the situation & he tells me that he's "just getting me in the mood of the shoot". Then he goes so far as to spank me on the ass and asks me if I like things rough. Okay...that was when I'm ready to lose my shit on this guy. I mention that i have boyfriend that plays pro football (yeah it's a lie, but he did ask me earlier if i had a boyfriend to which i said yes thinking it would make him back off a little....it didn't). He then informs me that I "better play along" or he will call my agency along with other agencies in town and tell them that I'm "extremely difficult to work with" (which can get you dropped by your agency...unless you're a supermodel). Thankfully, he kept his hands off of me for the rest of the shoot, but kept saying wildly inappropriate things to me. I learned a few years ago that I wasn't the only one he'd done this too & it's mostly all bark, no bite if you stand up to him. If I ever see him again, I'll probably kick him in the balls and hand him my agent's phone number....please, call them, I'd love for you to tell them.
The next time was last year. Normally, I never do background work (that's the people you see in the background of shows with no lines or anything,) but it was a Disney movie and I wanted to work on a Disney movie as part of my Hollywood bucket list. Wouldn't you know it, the Murphy's Law of Acting states that if you want to get an audition when things are slow book extra work or buy a plane ticket out of town. Sure enough, I got the call for a commercial audition that paid a lot of money. So, I try to cancel the extra work saying that something came up and I can't make it. This guy threatens the crap out of me....threatens to blacklist me with the production company (bullshit), call my agent (she would've laughed at him since the commercial would put money in her pocket) and leaving a note on my profile on this online casting site that only casting directors can see (having worked w/ the casting side of that site, i know it's possible)....so I bend and stick with the extra work. I mention it to the other actors once I'm on set....turns out this guy is totally full of shit. Too bad i don't find out until later in the day when it's too late to make it to my audition.
A while back, some guy who runs a small theater here in L.A. tried to "threaten" me by ending his email to me (in reply where I told politely told someone directing a show at his theater that my agent prefer I not do shows at that theater.) with "(the guy who owns a few theaters and is known and respected by far more people than you realize)". I laughed and saved the email for future reference (just in case) since California has amazing stalking & harassment laws. (He likes to troll read my blog, so I'm sure I'll get another nasty email after writing this....just remember what I said about harassment the last time you contacted me and remember, I didn't mention your name or your theater in this post, so your "secret" is safe. you can keep fooling unsuspecting newbie actors in this town.)
Another one of my favorite "scare quotes" runs along the lines of: "If you haven't made your acting career by 35...you should give up and find something else." (sometimes the age is 30, sometimes 40) but it's almost always from some know-it-all "agent" or "manager" who thinks they are god's gift to the entertainment industry. Really? Well if that was so true...the world would've never known of the beautiful, talented and wise Kathryn Joosten (may she rest in peace having left us 2012). You may have known her from The West Wing or Desperate Housewives (she won 2 Emmys for the latter playing nosy neighbor Karen McCluskey). She didn't even begin acting until she was 42, starting in Chicago-area community theater & didn't even move to Hollywood until she was 56. I was lucky enough to interact with her & get advice from her on some actor-based internet message boards....she was very humble like that despite all of her successes. Also what defines "making it"....are we talking A-list stardom, not having to work a night job, I think everyone's ideal of "making it" differs in their own mind. Here's some other actors who got their start after this "agent's" "magical point of no return" age: Harrison Ford, Ken Jeong (from The Hangover & Community), Samuel L Jackson (are you mother fucking kidding me mother fucker?!?), Alan Rickman (yes he was a stage actor but his breakthrough film role, which is the Hollywood "making it" in Die Hard was when he was 42), Jane Lynch (Glee) was in her 30s before becoming a regular working actor and 40s when she became "known". Morgan Freeman was still doing community theater in Los Angeles and nearing 40 when he became a solid working actor.
There are other comments you hear that aren't scary quotes but they are bullshit. Like "wow that was great" (half the time they are telling that to everyone auditioning or they are saying it to you having not even paid one iota of attention to your audition. just a month ago, i had a casting director with her head stuck in her computer the whole time i was auditioning...only to later see she was tweeting DURING my audition because it showed up in my twitter feed...really!?!?) or some variation of "You're a fantastic actor. Why are you so fat?" (this also applies to models too...".you have a great look, but you're too thick", "you'd work so much more if you were a size 4 or a size 2"....yeah, let me just get right on that by chiseling away my hip bones and snorting some coke so I never eat). They're just downright rude at times.
So you know what my dream is Hollywood? how about a little respect that we're not all idiots just hopped off the Greyhound at Union Station with some stars in our eyes. My dream is not to be "threatened" by someone in so-called "power". Now here's my "scare quote" to all those types: I know how your game is played now. Good luck trying to "scare" me into playing your game.
Sincerely....an over-35 actor who isn't going to risk her health to be a size 0 & will laugh in your face if you tell her that she'll "never work in this town again", because even if it is true, with all the runaway production (sidebar: that's when filming goes to smaller markets like Cleveland, New Orleans, Atlanta, etc), I'll just find a new town to work in and still be successful.
PS: "don't put photos of you with alcohol" funny.....cuz Chelsea Handler has never had a problem with that. Drink up and enjoy my photo with this post.