Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, January 29, 2017


For several years now, one of my oldest friends from back on the Home Planet has been prattling on about his daughter as she worked her way through various drama programs, plays, and low budget film/television productions in high school and college. I nodded like a good little bobble-head, humoring his paternal pride while mumbling noncommittal nostrums about "seeing what I can do to help if she ever comes to Hollywood."

I meant it, of course, but there really isn't much a lowly juicer can do to help jump-start the career of a budding actress. Besides, I really didn't think I'd actually have to make good on my promise. I assumed that her pursuit of an acting career would falter after graduation from college -- and once out in the real world, she'd meet some lucky young Mr. Right, at which point the dream of acting professionally would fade to black in favor of a starring role as wife and future mother-to-be. 

Truth be told, I figured that would probably be for the best.

Now before you start hurling spittle-flecked invective and rotten tomatoes at me, I fully realize how sexist, stereotypical, and fossilized that kind of Old Think sounds -- but I've seen more than a few young people come streaking into Hollywood like meteors, only to flame out in the harsh, unforgiving atmosphere of film industry reality. Most managed to find another path, but some didn't survive the experience -- and I mean that literally: they died at a stupidly young age for no good reason. Trying to make it in this town is an uphill struggle no matter what your goals, but achieving success as an actor just might be the steepest mountain of all to climb.

So maybe you can forgive my paternalistic, jaded, old-fart skepticism -- or not. Either way, Nikki Gallagher finally kicked the Arizona dust from her shoes and headed for Hollywood, chasing the dream. Shortly thereafter, her dad sent me a clip from a promo she'd done for one of those low-budget features... and my jaw hit the floor. Her endearing, girl-next-door beauty grabbed my attention, but it was her utter ease in front of the camera that allowed me to see what her father had been saying all along.

This young lady can act, but more importantly, the movie camera absolutely loves her -- and although that ineffable, indefinable quality is something money can't buy, it sure as hell can be sold.

Although success won't come easy, it can be achieved. I worked on a low-budget cable show ten years ago with a teenage actress who then went on to much bigger things, but the ruthless Darwinian reality is that only the most talented and determined will make it. Talent is essential, but can't guarantee success. Would-be actors need to possess a single-minded drive that simply won't take "no" for an answer, along with the kind of gritty, tough-minded resilience that enables them to get back on their feet every time they get knocked down, no matter how hard the punch. 

Survival of the fittest, indeed.

Like all young actors, Nikki will need a break or two -- the right role at the right time, an agent or producer who recognizes her potential, or maybe a director looking for a fresh young face to connect with an audience -- but nobody ever made it in this town without catching a few breaks. With any luck, Nikki Gallagher will too, and then she'll be on her way.

You saw her here first, kiddos. Remember that.

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