What I know after 30 years as an actor in New York and L.A. is that the only rule that is true in show business is that there are no rules.
The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my continuing adventures as a working – and sometimes not working – actor. In the last 30 years, I have seen a great many changes in the industry and in some ways, hardly any at all. It has been a journey of self discovery as well as a lifetime of meeting and working with amazingly talented and diverse set of colleagues. My wish is that through this blog I may bring some insight into this world of auditions, callbacks, performances and unemployment. When I started my career as an actor, I was given some great advice, “to success comes the hangers-on, to failures, the hangers up.” I’ve been both, but let’s hope I’m still here with more successes than failures for another 30 years.
I love America. Why do I love America? Because ever since I was a young boy, America was the land of movie stars, westerns, musicals, cartoons, Roman Legions, horror movies and historical dramas. Everything I thought I knew about the world and myself came from Hollywood. I was born in Lima, Peru and when I was two years old my father bought a ticket to Chicago, Illinois, USA. Family folklore tells that when my father went to the airport in Lima, he took the first flight out to the states, with no idea where that would take him. It was a 2:30 pm flight to Chicago. My father found a job because of the kindness of another immigrant, a Polish American picture framer who gave him his first job and his first profession. It took my father a year to save up enough money to send for my mother and me.
Both my parents loved movies, it’s probably what drew them here. They passed along their love of them to me. We would all watch movies together sitting on our orange, faded, second-hand couch on a very small black and white television. My mother loved the beauty and glamour of movie stars and my father knew the names of all the actors and directors (my father was a human IMDb). When my mother was in her late teens and early 20s, she was a spokesmodel for Pepsi and Nescafé in Peru. Her dream to be a movie star was not to be, so instead, she decided that it was me who would become a film actor in Hollywood.
It took 26 years for her dream to materialize and for me to finally get my first professional acting job.
Hollywood was always in my life. If I wasn’t in a movie theatre watching double features all weekend long as a kid, I was outdoors with my friends, directing them in films I made up in my head. During my early teens, I lived in an apartment on Gower St, directly across from Paramount Pictures Studios. I had always been told as a kid that I was funny, imaginative, wild, unruly, and a bit crazy, all perfect attributes for a performer and an actor. But I did not start out as an actor, I had a few other careers first. I trained as a musician (bass player) and I played professional tennis. In fact, it was after my short career as a competitive player ended that I took a job as head pro of an indoor tennis club in Connecticut and where I would meet the first director to ever cast me in a film, the late Ron Gordon, Jr.
And so that brings me back full circle, to my adventures in this tough and merciless profession of acting that is always tinged with hope and the pure joy and bliss of reading for a part, booking the part, and arriving on set to do what I do. For me acting is a calling and the greatest joy is to appear on the big screen in some small town where an eager and happy 10-year-old boy, perhaps just a wild and unruly as I was, sits in the dark being transported to a new world.
Over the next few months I will chronicle my experiences and what it what it takes to be an actor in L.A., from auditioning to rehearsals, agents to workshops, headshots and websites and networking, and even creating your own work.