Paying It Forward

Several days ago I mentioned an encounter with an actor who is consistently working in film and television in Los Angeles.  I found myself in the same elevator so the poor man had no choice but to endure my conversation.  At the time I didn’t realize who he was as I wasn’t the target demo for the shows he’s previously been on, I thought he was a sports anchor on a station I’d previously sold.  Anywho, he most graciously put up with my request to pick his brain and answered my questions for about an hour and a half.  The topics were all over the board from what he felt when a series was cancelled to are there any normal people in Hollywood and how do you tell if they like you for you and not for what you can do for them?  It was truly one of most seminal moments in my career to date.  The information he shared, the inside tips and the encouragement were early Christmas presents delivered at a time when I needed to receive them.  I had a smile on my face the remainder of the day that no lack of sleep from a red-eye flight could erase.

I don’t know if someone had done this for him early in his career or if he was just in a good mood and felt like talking.  I’m sure when he left to catch his plane back to LA he had no idea of the impact he’d left on me and of the ripple effect his words would produce.  I’m sure once he hit the terminal floor our encounter was forgotten as he moved into getting home mode. But I didn’t forget and I won’t forget.  I’ll think back to that conversation many times over the next weeks and months as I go forward.  And that’s the way it should be.  There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  I learned many lessons that early morning and am most grateful for the generosity and kindness shown to me by a fellow actor.  It was pretty amazing.

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One Response to “Paying It Forward”

  1. Jeff Garretson Says:

    Way to seize an opportunity. Still monumental for me is working as an extra on an indie feature, Chasing Robert. I ended up sitting at a table with an actor, that I didn’t realize was one of the main actors.

    When he told me that, I asked if he’d been in other movies, and he started listing things like Eight Legged Freaks and other films I hadn’t seen. Then he mentioned Groundhog Day and we made a connection.

    He was very kind and we talked about acting, and he gave me his coffee that the crew brought him, and he asked me why I wasn’t pursuing acting for real. I guess I was just waiting for someone to kick me. So … he kicked me. Under the table and told me to get to it.

    That wasn’t fully what did it.. it was a gradual growth since then.. but it’s a cool story and I’m lucky to have met him and for him to have been so kind to some extra that didn’t have any acting background.

    I got home and looked him up. And I saw that Rick Overton had also played one of the little wood guys in Willow, and I wondered why he’d never brought up that film. I LOVED that film. Then I told this story and 9 times out of 10 people hadn’t seen willow, and I was blown away. But realized why he never mentioned Willow.

    So paying it forward, I try to talk to everyone on set and be kind. I even gave Chicago acting/ film industry advice to a freshman Columbia student who was PA on one of my films a few years ago, over a cigarette break. Thought I was being kind and helpful, and then a few hours later, found out I was telling Jake Lloyd, Anakin friggin’ Skywalker, how to be an actor in Chicago. I was too embarrassed to talk to him later in the day. I had the kid’s face holding my bar of soap in my shower for goodness sakes! ;o)


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