As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to act.
I recall staying up late to watch movies on TV with my mom – GYPSY and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS are the two that stand out in my memories (and if that doesn’t explain a hell of a lot about me, I don’t know what does). I was mesmerized by the ability of human beings like myself to create entirely new people. It thrilled me.
Of course, later I found about writers, directors, and all of the other amazing crew people who work hard to create other worlds. But that initial exposure to movies drew me to actors. I knew I wanted to do what they did. I didn’t know how, but damn it, I was going to figure it out.
I started small. One of my elementary school classes put on an in-class production of STONE SOUP in which I played The Seamstress. I wore a long skirt that my grandmother had made me – paired with a top I already had – and threw a babushka over my long hair. Then found a piece of burlap, and strung yarn through it, as if I were actually sewing something.
Yes, I was making my own costumes and props at the age of six, something that none of the other kids in the production did without adult help (I thought back then, puffing up my tiny six-year old chest and ignoring that kids did this all the time – just not in front of a lot of other people). That was also when I started playing character roles. I guess I’ve always been a character type.
Fast forward a few years, when I was in fifth grade and my class put on a production of WIZARD OF OZ. Since I wasn’t one of the popular kids, I didn’t get to play Dorothy or any of the witches. Nope, I was a Munchkin AND a Winged Monkey. And you had better believe I put together my own costumes and learned my (admittedly meager) lines, while all the other kids read from their scripts. Harumph! Amateurs! (Which I would’ve never actually said to their faces because I was too damned shy. Also, I’ve always tried my best to not be a total jerk.)
Yes, the acting bug had well and truly bitten me. I was excited to take drama classes when I finally started at a school that had such classes. I threw myself into my first one act play put on by the drama club (in which I played Madame Naomi Seesall, a conwoman – oh, how I wish I had photos from that production) and quickly became involved in a community theater production of YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU.
Then onto high school and more plays. A single acting class at Pierce Community College after my high school graduation. Then I started auditioning. In the late 80s I attached myself to Conejo Players Theatre, auditioning for everything I thought I might be appropriate for, getting three roles over the course of eight years. Two of those roles were super tiny and non-speaking (though the only non-tiny role was pretty juicy: Sheila in THE BOYS NEXT DOOR).
Ugh. It’s hard being a character actor in your 20s.
I ended up doing more crew work than acting at Conejo Players. I had fun and don’t regret it, but ultimately I was tired of not being cast. There were a couple of times that I suspected I wasn’t cast because it’s harder to find a reliable crew member than an actor. I gained many friends from my time at Conejo, a number of them still friends almost 30 years later
After I moved away from the Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks area in ’93, my attempts at acting died out. I auditioned, but it turns out it’s also a little hard being a character actor in your 30s.
I did some background work for TV in 2001, played a dancing mother all the way in the back of a large group in a student film, took an improv class in 2003, and in 2008 I got a call to play the murderer in an episode of Dominck Dunne’s Power, Privilege & Justice. In which I can’t really be seen because I played the murderer in re-enactment scenes, so I’m all blurry. *sigh*
Not much else. Life took over, with work and family events contributing to a deep depression that I thought I didn’t need help with, because, damn it, I’ve bootstrapped my way out of depression before and I can do it again!
(That’s an entry for another day.)
Finally, at the age of 48, I started acting again. I got involved with the theater department at Caltech. Over the past 21 months, I’ve been cast in five productions – two of them staged readings for original work – and I’ve made even more friends whom I adore. I can also be seen in THE PHD MOVE 2: STILL IN GRAD SCHOOL as the hotel concierge. (I am in two other scenes, but I feel my disdain is best felt as the concierge.)
I feel like I’ve come back home after far too many years away, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve even branched out into non-community theater, having recently finished a run as The Evil Queen in HAPPILY WHATEVER AFTER in Hollywood. Last summer I completed an improv workshop. I was in a music video by the marvelous Tom Goss, which will be released March 14th. (I have no idea how visible I am, but Tom has promised that I will love the video. I have a feeling that’s true, no matter how much I am or am not seen.) Now I’m taking singing lessons and I’ve just started acting classes this week. I’m also helping out with Sci-Fest LA 2016, which is going to be amazing.
Oh, how I’ve missed you, theater. It’s so good to be back.