Saturday, January 05, 2013

I Had A Dream, A Dream About You, Baby

The kid and I were at the mall, doing what one does after the holidays; using up gift cards and store credits before the cats eat them. A woman walked past us, smiled. I smiled vaguely back, assuming I knew her from someplace. She stopped, turned, pointed to Daughter and said "Is she your daughter?"

I frowned and said "Depends." Whatever the opposite of outgoing is, I am its queen if a stranger is interested in my child.

"Well," she continued, smiling warmly at me, "I'm a scout for Disney television and they are having an audition..."

This has happened to us before. I'm not saying the child is exceptionally beautiful or unbearably charismatic. I think she's rather nice but the scout wasn't responding to her dry wit or her interest in science. What the scout noticed was that Daughter is a carbon-based life form under the age of 13 in a city looking to constantly keep the machinery of tween television oiled with new bodies. If they ask a thousand children to come to an open audition, a few hundred might come and in there might be a single child who can read a line. It's worth their time so they keep sending scouts out.

"...come read?"

The woman waited. I realized she had kept talking while my mind drifted. Luckily, I knew my line.

"Thank you, but no."

We all smiled at one another and the scout walked off towards a mother with twins.

I loved acting; specifically, no one loved the bit between "Action" and "Cut" better than I did. If that was all acting was, I'd still be in it. I'd be unemployed, but I'd be in the game. But even if you're lucky, that part is no more than about 10% of your career. The other 90% -- the uncertainty, the powerlessness, the unhealthy fixation on weight and appearance -- erodes even the most resilient adult and I wasn't walking around the mall with an adult. My mother, my parents, had the character to have kept me sane and whole even with this nutjob hobby I had, but I wasn't prepared to gamble that I could do as well for the kid. Lucky for us, Daughter has friends who are actors and knows that acting mostly means you aren't available to have fun in the afternoons and that even if you could talk your mother in to it, you can't have a blue streak in your hair. In sum, acting is unenviable.

I couldn't agree with her more.


Blogger Unknown said...

After seeing what happens to all those Disney kids when they grow up I shudder to think of any adult who thinks that industry is good for their kid. Yes, the acting bit is probably fun, but 99% isn't acting. The 99% is everything bad you mentioned mixed with peer pressure, drugs, paparazzi, and bikini waxes.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Amy G. said...

I am relieved to know that your daughter will not be shot out of the same cannon that provided us with Lindsay Lohan. Good parenting, Quinn!

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Amy G. said...

I am relieved to know that your daughter will not be shot out of the same cannon that provided us with Lindsay Lohan. Good parenting, Quinn!

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Robin Raven said...

That's a very wise response. Hollywood is so many things. When I met Gregory Peck in my hometown as a teen before ever heading out to Hollywood, his advice was to do anything but acting for film. (He hadn't seen me act. He was just advising as he would for anyone. I have his exact words written in my diary somewhere; they were wise and am not doing them justice. haha)

Although I was fortunate to be picked after someone saw a performance in acting class to have my first speaking part (didn't even have to audition) and thus get into SAG, most of my days in LA were spent on all that other stuff. (True story: I both acted with, and later waited on, two well-known actors.) When I did audition, most of the discussion was about my body (weight fluctuates, but I'm never not chunky). The things I heard! The awful, awful thing I heard.

All this, and I'm still going back for more and fundraising an indie film I wrote and hope to act in. The way you described the entertainment industry as the bad boyfriend is the best metaphor there will ever be! Should I ever have kids, my response would be the same as yours; it's good she's far more interested in other things.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Mark Moran said...

And in this moment, you're not the former child actor, you're not the blogger, the inventor, the author, you're just an informed mother of one. And that's enough, and that's a lot ...

6:37 PM  
Blogger StevenIre said...

What happened to the children’s future wellbeing looking back from our vantage point? It was Disney in the Study with the Candlestick. But the candlesticks could at least dance. The moral of the story is never trust dancing candlesticks.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Valerie Wells said...

You know what you are protecting her from, and are making an informed choice. If only all child performers had parents like yours, and would put their child's welfare above the potential cash payoff. To you, acting was something you did, not something you are (what you ARE, if I may say so, is quite an engaging writer and we would be much poorer without your work to enjoy).

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Lehua said...

Could not agree more...especially in 2013. Can't imagine what the pressure must be like. Yay for you and your little one!

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Lydia G said...

I was approached with my twins and gave the same answer. It is reassuring to read your blog and know it was indeed the right answer.

8:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home