Three Billboards on Sunset Boulevard

A week ago I moved into an apartment (a sublet for February) in West Hollywood. Several times I’ve walked the two blocks to Sunset Boulevard for fun and a time or two for inspiration and encouragement.

There is a ton of activity and energy on all levels. Horns honking, cars zipping around each other, cars stopping and starting at busy intersections, people hustling to yoga class or work, skateboarders, well, skateboarding. So much to take in-different people from all walks of life from the homeless to the high-powered and even more in-betweeners. A huge variety of restaurants, stores, coffee shops, banks, boutique businesses, and apartment buildings.

Another visual–the large billboards looming over everything.

The other day I turned the corner onto Sunset, and gazed up and read this in huge letters on a billboard:

“Be anything you want to be. And be many things.”
–Ralph Lauren

11

I stopped on the sidewalk and read it a second time.

Ralph Lauren, obviously a very successful fashion designer had said it. He should really know what he’s talking about. I so wanted to be inspired. I would have loved for it to be the quote that brings me to enlightenment. A mantra to bring my world together and make everything happen for me if I say it one hundred times a day. Or at least words to make me feel good inside at the moment and motivate me for a couple of hours.

Instead, the phrase left me unsettled.

Perhaps it has something to do with my resume.

Believe it or not, I have several friends and acquaintances who have kindly offered to get my resume into the hands of people who could potentially hire me. Yes, you read that correctly. And I haven’t sent it to them, yet. One woman has been waiting several weeks.

It’s embarrassing that this is hanging over me that I haven’t been able to send my resume to anyone. It really is.

I’ve sat down several times and tweaked it, sent it off to my sweetheart who is great at helping me edit and format the document.

One of the difficulties is that although I have my aspirations of directing feature films, at the moment in order to get my foot in a door, I am applying for entry level work. And in this business that can be any number of departments. And since I do not know who will see it and what positions they might have, I am struggling with how to present my resume to appeal to a variety of roles while also maintaining a sense of direction. The first question most people ask me is “What do you want to be doing?” Ultimately? Directing feature films. What do I want to be doing now? Making a paycheck as I apply my skills and experience in a position that will afford me the opportunity to be learning.

The challenge of putting my strengths, what I can do, and my experience on one page sucks the energy out of me. So, I tweak it some, send it off to my sweetheart, then go do other things the rest of the day, instead of waiting for his revisions and diligently finishing it.

Mind you, if it were somebody else’s resume, I’d be there whipping it into shape for them, moving things around, adding this, removing that, and in no time they’d have a 1-page document worthy of framing.

But when it’s me, it is tougher.  And especially because I am searching for my own little (or big!) personal doorway into the film and television industry in Los Angeles. I am confident in face-to-face meetings with people, however, how do I create a resume that will get me that meeting? How do I make it perfect? How do I make sure it looks right?

Back to Sunset Boulevard where I came upon the next billboard. A Lifetime Channel ad read:

“(we) believe (in) women.”

Now that is a slogan I can get into.

I am a writer and director and proponent of women’s stories. Reading this billboard I feel it is letting me know there are places in this town for someone with my sensibilities and that is encouraging.

But before I will find my ‘place’ I am going to have to do the work and that starts with getting my resume in the hands of people who have so generously offered to pass it along to the the ones looking to hire.

So today I am committed to completing my resume.

And you know why?

Because just as Lifetime believes in women, I believe in me.

There is no way to have one page that will cover everything and be appealing to every person in every aspect of every area of every department of production.

And that is okay. I am going to trust that it will find its way to where is meant to and into the best person’s hands. Or perhaps the friends I send it to will have suggestions for revisions based on their experience or knowledge.

And here is the third billboard.

22

“Time to Fly.”  (Inspiration from Greta.)

My resume will never be perfect, and there is no right way. The exciting thing is that it will be my resume. It will represent a part of me as it is sent out into the world. So, as daunting as this is at times, it also leaves me feeling excited and alive inside.

It is time to stop clenching to fear of who will see it and what will they think of me and let my resume fly.

Sorry, Ralph Lauren. Your quote might stir something wonderful to some, but for me, I am inspired by the words my very dear, departed friend, Patrick wanted those he left behind to remember:

“Believe in yourself” and “Be you.”

And soon I’ll have it in writing–my resume–to prove it.

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Within Arm’s Reach

I have another post I am writing that I intended on posting today. Stepping away from it for a moment to give my sweetheart, who is my editor, time to look at it, I checked my Facebook page.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 12.16.15 PM

On my page was a ‘Your Memories on Facebook’ linked to a blog post I wrote two years ago. Of course, it was about Daddy and inspired by all the laughter he and I shared. I had made a ‘New Yay’s Resolution’ to laugh out loud at least once a day.

I haven’t kept that resolution, especially since I’ve moved out here. Part of that is because I spend many days by myself. I probably don’t feel inclined to laugh out loud when I’m alone. However, I am out and about among people during the day. And I don’t need someone else around to have a laugh. If I make the effort, I can find ways to inject a hearty giggle into my day somehow.

The short video clip in the blog makes me laugh out loud, and my eyes tear up, at the same time. I kind of wish this was my ‘memory’ on Facebook every day.

It was such a joyful moment I shared with Daddy, I’m going to hold off and post the other one I was working on tomorrow and re-share this post now. If you need a smile or a chuckle today, take a second to read and watch A Laugh Machine.

Pain of a Growth Spurt

This morning I awoke similar to how I went to bed. Sad, somber.

I would lean on my sweetheart at a time like this, but I’m not ready. He is amazing and sweet and supportive. He will assure me that “everything will be okay”. “It is all for a reason even if we never know what that reason is.” “You’ll learn from this and next time will know better.” Or he’ll throw Daddy’s words at me, “That’s just the way things go sometimes.”

As I said though, I’m not ready, and right now none of those words of encouragement feels the least bit true or comforting. Maybe I want to wallow. Or perhaps I want to suffer the frustration and hope to grow on my own.

Last night I had the opportunity to go to an event where Greta Gerwig was the guest director. If you are not familiar with Greta, she is an actress who is also the writer and director of the Oscar-nominated film, Lady Bird.

I’ve been excited since they announced through Film Independent that Greta would be one of the directors taking part in a Directors Close-up program I had signed up for.

Many of the things I do since I’ve come to L.A., like spending days looking for a place to live, don’t feel directly related to why I’m here. They are necessary, but don’t fuel my creative and professional pursuits as a director.

On the other hand, attending a forum specifically for directors, with a woman in attendance whose talents and sensibilities I admire and appreciate would be very inspiring.

Well…it could have been.

Another element to my day is oft spending what amounts to hours redialing Central Casting trying to get bookings as background talent. One of the agents will post information for a particular look of background actors they need for a shoot along with instructions to either submit through email or their phone number.

There are thousands upon thousands of people in the Los Angeles area registered with Central Casting all vying for these openings. So you can imagine what it is like when a post goes up and those thousands upon thousands all start pushing the buttons on their phones. And pushing the buttons again and again.

That’s part of the process. Redialing over and over until it rings, and even then, more often than not, after it has rung a number of times, a recording comes on letting you know the roles have been filled. You also might get through and they pull up your photo on their computer and let you know they don’t have a place for you. For example, in my case they might not need more women, or they only want brunettes at that point. And then there are the responses like the one I received on Monday.

I was seated at a noisy coffee shop in the early afternoon searching online for housing, periodically clicking over to Facebook to see if there were any new Central Casting listings. Eventually one was listed for which I fit the description so I began the calling process.

After hitting redial about 64 times, the phone rang. I grabbed pen and paper and ran outside.

Unfortunately I was near a busy road and the loud traffic prohibited me from hearing properly. I was so happy to have actually gotten through, I didn’t want to miss the chance to work. They have so many people calling and they have to do it all so quickly, if you don’t respond as soon as they answer they will hang up and move on to the next call.

My heart was racing and though I could barely hear her, I blurted out the first five digits of my Social Security number which is all they want from you when they answer. She asked my name to confirm. As I gave her my name, I frantically looked for a less noisy place in the parking lot but there was nowhere nearby. She asked a couple of questions which I had to ask her to repeat.

So far I was making the cut! I was going to work on Tuesday!

I could barely make it out, but I was fairly certain I then heard her say, “I have one more question.”

Questions? Go ahead! I’ve got answers. I had dialed and dialed and gotten through. The Holy Grail. I was getting a day on set and a paycheck. Ask away!

“And are you available Wednesday?”

This time I’d heard her. But I asked her to say it again to give myself a moment, and to be positive.

“Are you available Wednesday?”

Wednesday evening was the Director’s Closeup with Greta. A gathering of other creatives all taking advantage of a special opportunity to learn, in person, from someone whose directorial debut is nominated for five Academy Awards.

Was I available Wednesday? At this point the agent doesn’t have call times, and you never know how long a shoot day is going to go. So if you say you are available, you are committing to all hours, any time of day, it’s required. My concern was if I said I was not, would that make me ineligible for the shoot Tuesday? In hindsight I realize I could have asked if this was the case, but in the heat of the moment I felt so rushed because I know their line is ringing off the hook with at least hundreds more people anxious for the same opportunity I was getting right then and the agents are hurried.

The next moment has replayed in my head countless times since Monday…
“Yes,” I uttered.

Struggling to hear her, and probably in shock over saying I was available Wednesday, I thought I heard her ask if I had pen and paper ready. I told her I did.

Maneuvering my phone, and pen and paper, to where I could write without a surface, the sheet of paper blew out of my hand. I squeezed the phone to my ear even harder trying to memorize what she was saying as I watched the paper flutter under a car. In my mind I considered telling her I just remembered I couldn’t work Wednesday. But I turned over my hand and began to write the details on my palm as they quickly came over the phone.

I don’t remember if she said “Good-bye”. I just recall the phone line going dead, and the bittersweet feeling I had as I stood in the parking lot, holding my hand open so the ink wouldn’t smear and watching the paper mocking me as it blew back out from under the car in my direction. I was going to be on set the next two days. But there was a good chance I was going to miss Greta.

What had I done? The ‘responsible’ part of me saying you cannot possibly turn down any respectable chance to make money to pay bills and buy groceries had won.

The rest of the day I grappled with the reality of what I’d said.

Here’s a huge other reason why it was all so overwhelming and why my heart is in pain.

Today, Thursday, a very, very dear friend in Colorado is being laid to rest. My friend, Patrick Sheridan, passed away last week. And though he fought with conviction, cancer took him from us. I toiled with the decision whether to skip the Director’s Closeup Wednesday evening to fly to Colorado. However, after going back and forth, I realized even Patrick would have told me to go to the forum. He would have followed it with a goofy, self-deprecating, sarcastic comment like, “Sure, MaryLee. Yeah, I see how it is. You go ahead and do that little ‘in person time with an Oscar-nominated director’ thing and skip the shindig where they put my body in the ground.” He’d say it with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face.

Patrick and I worked together on a number of the short movies he wrote and directed. He and I, along with Jim Brennan, produced Patrick’s feature film, Jimmy Said. When I decided to try my hand at directing, I turned to Patrick to write my first short film.

The film, The Necklace, screened in 26 festivals around the country and won five awards.

As crazy and overwhelming as the production of a movie can be, with all the things we’ve worked on, Patrick and I have been through a lot together.

Patrick and Me

Not attending his funeral today was a hard decision, but I did my best to trust it was the right one. And then I go and mess everything up anyway by getting booked to do background talent for a TV show yesterday.

Tuesday morning I went in and I worked a half-day on the same show. I had fun and was glad to be there, but in the back of my mind I gave thought to calling in and saying I couldn’t make it Wednesday. It wasn’t a continuation of the same setting so continuity wouldn’t be an issue. As a matter of fact, Wednesday I would be portraying one of 300 audience members.

Discussing with my sweetheart on the phone as I drove home from the shoot Tuesday night, we went back and forth over the options, and pros and cons. If I called in, would it be a mark against me getting future bookings? Not to say they would immediately stop considering me, but being new to the business of background talent, and new to L.A., I wasn’t sure how big of a deal it would be to them, and whether I wanted to take the risk.

I did know, however, as my sweetheart also knows and mentioned, that it would be a fairly big deal to me. It is very difficult for me to back out of a commitment. Once I have said I will do something, I fulfill my obligations. Particularly professional obligations.

And I was also still considering flying to Colorado late Wednesday for the funeral if I could get a flight.

It all felt so soul-wrenching. After all, I came here to find my way as a director. Background talent work isn’t my dream, it is a way to make some cash for now. That may seem dramatic, especially as I couldn’t begin to guess how many homeless people with tougher issues there are within a 50-mile radius (heck, even a 1-mile radius) of where I live. Nonetheless, that is how my heart felt.

Since I didn’t need to be to the set until 1:00 in the afternoon, yesterday morning (Wednesday) I walked the two blocks to Sunset Boulevard. Starbucks was my destination, but I knew I was heading to Sunset hoping being in a high energy area would perhaps help me feel better about everything.

Passing a bus stop where someone had built a tent for however long they could stay there out of old blankets, cardboard, sheets and any other materials they could find, I thought perhaps if I remembered the things I am grateful for it would take some of the sadness away.

So that is what I did as I stood in line at Starbucks. Then I placed a bottle of orange juice on the counter and placed an order for my drink. Crossing again in front of the makeshift tent on my way home, I set the bottle down near a small opening and continued to walk.

I wish I could be a better person and tell you I suddenly felt renewed and a load was lifted. Nope. Though I was genuinely grateful to be able to do that tiny gesture for whoever was under the shabby linens, and it certainly didn’t hurt, I was still annoyed with myself.

Why did I say “yes”? Or why hadn’t I at least spoken up on the phone and asked if availability for Wednesday was required for the booking Tuesday? But I hadn’t.

Which was why last night, I sat outside under a tent, in a dress and heels, freezing cold with 299 other background talent. As always, I did my best to be in the moment and enjoyed being part of the shoot and meeting some other background talent. But my mind went several times to an auditorium an hour away where Greta Gerwig was sharing her experience with other directors.

This morning, I was still sad about what felt like a missed opportunity. However, it did encourage me to get out of bed and come directly to a place I could write and share without letting myself get distracted by looking for housing or checking for Central Casting jobs. A creative place. From the time I started typing this morning to now, I do feel better, more positive, less pitiful. Like I grew on my own.

My sweetheart is right though. I may never know why I said yes, and why things turned out the way they did. And next time I will know.

Perhaps I’ll meet Greta another time. I really hope so. But that’s why I came out here. The city is filled with amazing, talented people I can learn from.

It is about the journey. Even when it might not feel like it, I am doing my dream,

 

Five-Star Day!

Aware of my restlessness, maybe six or seven years ago, a mentor who had lived in L.A. and worked in the film industry, then left California, and then years later had gone back, told me that perhaps it was time for me to make the move west myself. She said it matter of fact, as though it was inevitable that I come out to the coast.

Her argument was that in Los Angeles I could be immersed in the film and television world. She went on to say it would be difficult to not be immersed. And she’s right. There are plenty of communities out here that have nothing to do with making movies, but in some way, everyone is connected to the entertainment world.

In Colorado, I was used to most news headlines this time of year having to do with snow. If you are a skier or snowboarder you want to know what the slopes are going to be like. And even if you are not a skier, in some way you are affected by the amount of snow. Perhaps you are involved in tourism, like the restaurant or hotel business. Or you are simply trying to decide whether to go meet up with friends at a pub or stay in and binge-watch a show and avoid the potentially icy roads.

Here I n L.A., even when I am not involved in an activity that is directly movie-business based, all around me I hear the references. And particularly with the Oscar nominations out this past week, the conversation is everywhere.

Overheard at a coffee shop (not on a studio lot like the one in La La Land):

Dunkirk should get for cinematography.”

“You liked that better than Darkest Hour?”

“No, but war movies always win for cinematography.”

“What about that Blade Runner movie? Isn’t that up for it too?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t see it.”

“Where are you going to watch the Oscars?”

“I probably won’t. They are on the day before my review.”

(Occasionally, it deviates from movie talk.)

“Do you think you’re going to get grossed out putting your fingers in people’s mouths?”

“I’ve already had to. We mainly use tools anyway.”

But often it comes right back:

Friend nods and goes on, “Did you see Shape of Water? I thought it was kind of sweet, kind of weird.”

And those are the kinds of chatter I overhear daily.

And though most cities, Denver area included, offer a variety of cultural events, the enormous number of offerings in L.A. is actually a bit overwhelming to me as a new arrival to this town.

From clubs to groups, from tiny stage to humongous screen, from extremely casual to black tie, this place has it all on a regular basis.

Bit by bit, moment by moment I am navigating my way. Which has brought me to Culver City where I will be spending all day at the Arclight Cinemas. Yes, as a member of Film Independent, I will be screening five movies in a row today!



To some that might sound trite, spending the entire day in the theater, but to me it is exhilarating. It allows me to witness other people’s stories, take part in the conversation, become part of the tribe. Learn from what I like and what I am not as impressed by.

In the same vein, last night I saw The Big Sick, which I very highly recommend- loved it!) and Emily and Kumail (co-writers whose story it is based on) took part in a discussion afterward. The opportunity to hear directly from the filmmakers, the storytellers, is a huge benefit to being in the right place.

I’ve watched five films or short film programs in a day before, though usually at a film festival.

Guess this is kind of a festival!  My LA fest!

Time to head to the theater and get in line so I get a good seat. It’s almost showtime!

Straight Out of Central Casting

For years I’d heard the phrase, “Those people look like they are straight out of Central Casting.” Though I knew the reference directed at someone meant they had a ‘character’ look, which although their appearance might be unique in the current environment, they would easily be cast as a background talent for the right scene in a film or on a television show.

However, it wasn’t for a long time that I learned the phrase is based on a real company–Central Casting.  In business since 1925, it’s a very prominent company known for casting background talent for films, television shows, music videos and other media.

When I had mentioned a few months ago about moving to Los Angeles and not having a job lined up, several people advised registering to be background talent with Central Casting. It would be a good way to make some cash relatively quickly, and though there is a ton of downtime, I’d get to be on set, too.

And that is why one morning a few weeks ago, before the sun came up, I tiptoed out of my friend’s still-quiet home and got in my car. I rolled out of the driveway, excited to be heading to another new experience.

Let’s backtrack though because it really started the night before as I laid out a variety of clothing options, putting different things on, trying to figure what would be best to wear.

When you register, Central Casting takes a closeup shot and a full body shot to include in your profile. This would be what casting directors would be seeing when the company submitted me for jobs, so I wanted to make sure I had on a good look for me.

But what look did I want to portray? This shirt? Those pants? Or jeans? Or a blouse? A jacket? A dress of some style? Colors? All black? Prints? Solids? Accessories? Plain? What to wear, what to wear?!?

It was getting late, and starting to feel tired, and especially since I knew the alarm would be going off super early, I had a couple possible outfits in my mind, and decided to go to sleep and decide when I was getting dressed.

In the wee hours of the morning I barely heard the chime from my phone and I jumped out of bed so I wouldn’t be tempted to snooze. I quietly got ready, being mindful not to disturb anyone else in the house since it was 5:00AM.

After showering, I still debated what to wear. At the last minute I came up with an outfit I hadn’t even considered yet–classic black slacks, a black silky camisole top with a small red flower print, a short black leather jacket, and of course, my signature accessory, a scarf. Wearing red leather sneakers for comfort, I threw a pair of black pumps in a tote bag along with a cardigan sweater in case I decided a softer look would be better.

Ready to go, I checked for the fourth time that I had the documentation I needed for my I-9. Then  I stepped out in the still darkness of the morning, got in my car, and drove toward this new adventure.

As I drove out of the hills, I glanced out over the Port of Los Angeles where I could see the orange of daylight far away on the horizon. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I clicked on the Central Casting address which I’d already added to Maps (yes, I’ve since discovered Waze) and waited for the app to find me.

The detail person I am, I had read every specification on the Central Casting site, paying special attention to the ‘Register’ and ‘FAQ’ pages.

The main thing I’d heard was that you need to get there early. Very early. Based on advice from a friend, I knew to get there at least an hour ahead. There is such constant interest from so many people in signing up with Central Casting, they limit the number they register to 67 per session.

Wanting to get there early enough to be in the group that makes it in, I shot for an hour and half ahead. I had no idea what traffic would be like, but I pretty much figure it will always be heavy.

Driving down out of the hills in the South Bay area, I turned on my radio. It was silent so I wondered if I’d actually hit the ‘on’ button. Turns out I had turned it on, but I’d caught the moment between songs. Suddenly familiar notes came from the speakers.  The very first words I heard that morning? “Reach out and touch faith.” I smiled and settled into the driver’s seat.

Early on, the traffic was particularly bad (yes, even for LA). I heard on the radio that due to the fires, the 405 freeway was closed. So, I’m very glad I gave myself an extra half hour because I needed it.

It was very slow going almost the entire way, and particularly the further north, closer to LA, that I got. As Maps kept adding minutes to my arrival time, I worried if I would get there too late.

But then I decided if I didn’t get into that day’s session, I could come back earlier on another day. And in the meantime, I was up early and driving around my new “hood” and that would be fun too, to explore different parts of LA.

Eventually I made it to my exit in Burbank, a little before 8:00AM. Though the Central Casting site says to get there well before they open at 9:10AM, what it doesn’t say is that some people arrive as early as 4:00AM. So as I drove past the address and looked for a parking spot,  there was already a line on the sidewalk of folks of all ages and types, some with folding chairs and blankets. Many of them tapping away on their cell phones, some chatting to each other,  others reading books and magazines.

Realizing every moment could make the difference whether I was able to make the cut, and since I couldn’t tell how many people were in line, I hurriedly searched for a parking spot.

I snatched up my bag from the passenger seat, closed and locked my car, then scurried on the sidewalk to get a place in line. I took a breath of relief to be there, when a gentleman, about 60, stepped in line behind me and asked, “Is this Central Casting?” I chuckled, “Yes. Well, I hope so.” Realizing I shouldn’t presume since I hadn’t seen any signs or street numbers yet, I asked the woman in front of me, and she confirmed we were in the right place.


On the Central Casting site they mention that when you get there you should “line up outside in the next available square”. Immediately I began to look for what squares they were referring to. I saw nothing on the ground or anywhere else. The man behind me also inquired what the squares were, and I told him I didn’t know either, and that I figured we’d find out when someone came out to start the process.

Assured I was where I needed to be, and with an hour to go before they opened, I settled in for the wait. Though I had a book with me, there was too much fantastic people-watching to enjoy. Having arrived way before me was a crowd loaded with an array of varying styles and looks  The core of the population appeared to be in their 20’s, and 30-year-olds representing the second largest group. After that, there was a handful of us–the 40, 50 and ups.


I think it was an equal mix of men and women. There were various ethnicities, though African American and Caucasian were most prominent.

Standing there, because I was excited, and because I hadn’t brought a chair, I wished I’d had a coffee. But I’d specifically chosen not to have anything at all to drink because I didn’t want to have to get out of line to go find a bathroom.

The line continued to grow behind me, and one young guy a few people back ran up and counted those ahead of us. Reaching about seven or eight people ahead of me he looked back at us and shook his head. It wasn’t promising. When he stepped back in line, the guy who’d been holding his place said he didn’t know if he wanted to wait or not. For me it wasn’t a question. I was going to see what happened.


As I waited, I chatted with the man who had arrived just after me. I discovered he has been a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) for quite awhile. However, it’d been some time since he’d booked anything (discussion on ageism in Hollywood ensued) and he wanted to maintain his SAG benefits, which was why he was here. He hoped to get work as a Background Actor. I told him he reminded me of the actor Michael Lerner, and I thought for sure he could get booked as a judge or lawyer, or similar. He seemed to be surprised and glad I mentioned that because he was unshaven and very casually dressed in a denim shirt.

Constantly looking up ahead to see if anything was happening, at one point I noticed a well-dressed man coming walking alongside the line. He was handing out a flyer and when he got closer I heard him telling everyone of a special event that night.

As he passed and handed me a flyer, I too was caught by the bold print at the top, that read something like, “COME MEET SOME BIG DEAL PRODUCER OF SOME POPULAR SHOW”  However, my Spidey sense told me it wasn’t all that simple.

I scrolled down the page and saw my Spidey sense was right. You could certainly meet this big time producer and hear them talk about how to become an actor. Yup, all you had to do was show up that evening to the Scientology Celebrity Centre.

After he got to the end of the line, the guy with the handouts walked back my direction and stood nearby.  Stepping over to him, I could tell by the look on his face that I’m the first person who has ever handed the flyer back to him. Must be the Boulder tree-hugger in me.

Eventually a man came outside and began the process.

In his introduction he made it clear that any solicitors approaching us in line had no affiliation with Central Casting.

As he called out to the crowd, he restated as mentioned on the site, everyone needed the required documentation to work in the U.S. He came down the line, and a few people asked him questions regarding what they needed and based on his answer, they left the line. I was sad for them, but glad because that raised my chances of getting in.

Where I’d been standing all morning, trees had blocked my view of the door, but as he began to instruct people to move forward I could see there was a ramp at the front and he was having them form a double line. As he neared me, I noticed he was pointing to the ground. I moved forward as directed, and there, in tape, on the sidewalk, were the squares in question.

He asked if I had the necessary papers, I smiled and said, “Yes.”

He smiled back, “Good” and continued on.

A couple of people past me, he nodded to two guys and told them it wasn’t likely they’d get in that day. He encouraged that if they didn’t get to register at this time, to come back another day, but much earlier.

Taking a look down at my treasured ‘square’, I noticed something interesting- IMG_1977I was standing in a red square like those ahead of me. However, the square immediately behind was green. I’d made the very last spot!  I was number 67!

As it turned out, a few others ahead of me were not prepared with their paperwork, eliminating them from eligibility, so they left and several people behind me in line also made it in. But before that, for about half an hour, I clung to that spot attempting to contain the excitement inside me while also trying to be positive for the SAG actor behind me and the few behind him as we continued to wait.

Finally the time arrived when the doors opened.

Someone explained the next steps briefly and vehemently reiterated that Central Casting had nothing to do with any solicitors who approached you while you were in line.

Next thing I knew, people were moving forward. We were going in!

As instructed, I had my driver’s license and notarized birth certificate ready to show as I entered, and squeezed them tightly to be sure they didn’t fall from my hand.

Before going through the door, I showed my proof of citizenship, then was told to go in and sit in row four.

Inside was a large room with four rows of chairs facing several large monitors.

Following the young man now in front of me, (the woman in front of me who’d assured me I was in the right place unfortunately didn’t have her papers in order and had to go back another time) I took a seat next to him in row four. ‘Michael Lerner’ was on the other side sitting down after me.

The organizer explained that we should be aware that there were casting directors in the building and they might be watching us in case anyone fit a look for a project they were currently putting together. Though I’m professional in situations like this anyway, I was glad they let us know.

I’d heard the guy who was now next to me mention that he was from Ohio like I am. I asked him where in Ohio he was from. I wasn’t familiar with the name of the city but he said it was a very small town outside Columbus.

He mentioned that a girl he knew in L.A. had told him he wouldn’t need a car out here, so he’d sold his Ford Ranger and bought an airline ticket. Having arrived in Los Angeles only two nights before, he got a ride to the location where he’d lined up a place to stay on Craigslist only to discover that it was a bunk bed in the back of a moving van.

For the past two nights he’d been sleeping in the female friend’s car (I don’t know what her living arrangements were but he apparently couldn’t stay with her) which was parked because she was unemployed and couldn’t currently afford insurance.

He shared that he’d done some modeling in Ohio and was confident he could get modeling and acting work in Hollywood. I asked if perhaps his agent from the mid-west knew anyone out here who could help him. He said he had modeled for a friend and didn’t have an agent.

This man, in his very early 20’s said he had around $700 to his name on which to live.

Deeply concerned about him, I thought of how many other other people arrive in this town with very little money and big dreams.

I’m far from financially secure, but I have my car. And I have people who have assured me if it came down to it, I could stay with them.

I was glad when he said that if he had to he could go home. He also mentioned a friend in San Francisco he could stay with. I let him know there are plenty of acting and modeling opportunities there and it is a stone’s throw from L.A.

A few minutes later the staff of Central Casting had us settle in. Once they had everyone quiet and paying attention, the importance of being quiet was stressed so they could cover the information and process efficiently and no one would miss anything.

I gave a quick moment’s thought to the juxtaposition of a man to my left who’d been in the entertainment industry for years and just wanted to hold onto his SAG card, and the young man to my right who was just bubbling over with hopes and dreams.

Packets of papers we would need to sign were handed out and we began. A pleasant woman brought each sheet up on the monitors and clearly explained where we needed to fill in the blanks and which ‘dotted lines’ we needed to sign.

This was the bulk of the process and took most of the time.

It was explained to us how to submit for gigs we see posted on Facebook or Twitter, or hear about on the phone line recording. They also told us that sometimes you receive a text from Central Casting asking about your availability on specific dates. They stressed the importance of sending only “Yes” or “No” in your reply text–no questions or details.

After everything had been gone through, we were taken by sections of each row to tables at the end of the room to have our paperwork checked.

They confirmed all mine were in order, and I stepped over to a different section of the space to have my photos taken.

Watching those ahead of me, I gave thought to what type of expression and pose I should have.

Smile? No smile?

Three quarter turn? One hand on hip?

Does it matter?

Next thing I knew, I was standing on the mark and the photographer was counting “one, two,…” and ‘flash’.

Then she took a second shot. And that was it.

In hindsight, I could have at least asked to quickly see the photos. Because as it is, I have no recollection of what type of expressions I actually ended up making. Who knows what the casting directors are seeing when my picture is submitted to them.

Fortunately you can go back on days they have scheduled for ‘Updates’ and I can check out my photos on file then.

It was official. I was a member of Central Casting.

As I collected my bag and purse, and saying good-bye to the staffers and thanking them for their help, I was elated to have taken this step in my journey.

I walked with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face to my car. After tossing my things in and getting behind the wheel, I pulled out my cell phone as I pondered where I wanted to go next.

My heart beat quickly when I saw I had a text from Central Casting asking for my availability for the very next day for ‘Superior Donuts’.

I took a breath, made sure I read it correctly, then typed in all caps- ‘YES’.

I received a return reply letting me know my response was received and reminding me this was only checking availability, I had not booked anything.

I couldn’t believe it! It was possible I already had my first gig.

It had been explained in the session that because they have so much to do, the Central Casting people might not have the opportunity to let you know when you don’t get a job. And that was the case here, so I never heard anything more.

Ultimately it was thrilling and encouraging to have received that text and before I even got back to my car.

So now when I hear “Straight out of Central Casting”, it has a much bigger meaning. I don’t know if anyone will ever look at me and think, “she’s straight out of Central Casting,” and that’s fine with me. But what is exciting is that in the past two weeks I’ve already worked on several shows!

Just Call Me Angel

This morning I updated my status on Facebook like this:

Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 2.03.39 PM

I wasn’t certain what drove me to post it. Perhaps because so many people tell me they continue to cherish the memory of Daddy either from knowing him personally, or through the stories I share of the beautiful person he was and how much he means to me.

As much as it hurts so deeply not having Daddy right here to share news with, and to call on the phone when I might not have anything to report but feel like talking to him, and to get one of his awesome hugs from, I never wish the pain of his loss would just go away. Is that weird?

My intention for today was to get up very early and tend to some business an hour away (an hour if the traffic is good) at Central Casting where I’m registered as Background Talent. When my alarm went off I woke up, and could have pushed myself, but I was so tired. Overwhelmingly tired.

This whole ‘finding your way in the entertainment business and looking for a place to live’ thing takes a lot of energy.

After pondering whether I should rally, I decided that to ‘rally’ today meant staying local and taking care of other matters on my plate.

I slept another hour. After getting up, I checked the Central Casting listings to see if there were any gigs coming up that I could submit for. I need the work and money. Plus, I absolutely love being on set and all that has to do with production. That’s why I’m here!

During the night, and into the morning, Daddy had been very much in my mind, and heart, as my last moments with him continuously went through my head on this, the anniversary of when he passed away.

And in those final moments, I swore to him I would be okay. I held his hand tight, I kissed his forehead and cheeks over and over, I laid my head on his chest, and I promised him with all my heart that he could go peacefully and not worry about me.

And now it has been two years. Am I ‘okay’?

I don’t have a place to call ‘home’.

I don’t know when my next day of work will be to provide income to afford the above desired ‘home’ and that weighs on me constantly.

I am by myself much of the time.

But I’m better than okay. Because he believed in me so much, and with the invaluable encouragement I receive from dear friends, family, and my blog readers I’ve never even met in person, I’ve embarked on this amazing journey. And as I’ve said, journeys are about what happens along the way, not simply an end game.

Instead of sitting on a couch in a life where I am exhausted from the “dreaming”, I am at a coffee shop, Bogart’s, where you can see the Pacific Ocean from any seat in the house.

And instead of thinking ‘someday’ I’ll get to that ‘wanting to be making movies and television’ it is always ‘today’ that I wake up in the City of Angels and avidly “Do my dream.”

And though I am often by myself, I am not alone. I have a few good friends here I could schedule a get together with. A sweetheart a phone call or text away. Plus, bit by bit, I am finding my tribe out here. I am meeting some amazing people.

I wasn’t sure why I wrote that post on Facebook this morning. For a second I considered whether I might not want to because I was concerned it might be looked at as asking for sympathy.

Then I realized there was no reason to not share what was going on in my heart. Facebook wants my status? At that moment, that was exactly where I was.

The words were simple, “Two years and two hours from this moment, Daddy passed away.” I clicked ‘Post’.

Almost instantly my phone rang. I recognized the number as Central Casting–a call I never want to miss. My heart beat fast as I answered. The woman asked was I available for a shoot for tomorrow?

“Yes,” I replied eagerly.

She said, “Great, I’ll call you later with the details.”

Another day of being on set! A paycheck! An opportunity to meet more people in the industry!

As soon as I hung up the tears ran down my cheeks and I stood almost breathless.

My angel in heaven is looking out for me. I got that hug from Daddy after all.

 

And So It Begins

Cozy clothes, popcorn, decadent hot chocolate…I’m ready!

As you might recall from posts in years past, I absolutely love awards season!

And watching them for my first time in LA? I am absolutely giddy!

And what else is so awesome? I did my first background talent gig on Friday and have another booking tomorrow.

So much to fill you in on, but for now, back to the show!