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September 18, 2008

WILL YOU VOUCH FOR ME?

Posted in: ENTERTAINMENT, LIFESTYLE, feature4

What’s up UTC? I’m really excited to update you on my life and all things Hollywood. Fact is, this morning I got a letter from the Screen Actors Guild stating that I’m now “SAG Eligible.” If you recall in my last blog I mentioned that I got three SAG vouchers working on a film called “A Thousand Words” staring Eddie Murphy and Kerry Washington . Well, those three vouchers made me eligible to join the union. Now, for those of you who don’t know the acting world, it’s all about being in the union. You get in by either getting three vouchers doing background work or by getting a speaking role and getting what they call a “Taft-Hartley” into the union. Either way, being in the union is a big deal in this town. You’re not taken serious unless those three letters (SAG) are on your resume. And now, it is!

Well, almost… it will be after I fork over a whopping $2,345. Until then, I’m “SAG Eligible,” which means I can audition for union projects like TV shows and films, not just theater, music videos and student films. It’s truly a great feeling because I have been at this a while – ever since I saw Rita Moreno in “Westside Story.”

But that’s another blog.

Back to “A Thousand Words.” The film was directed by Brian Robbins who has directed “Meet Dave,” and “Norbit” (and he even played Eric on the 80s TV show “Head of the Class” with Robin Givens. I thought that was a cool piece of trivia). Anyway, one of my girlfriends is Brian’s assistant and well, let’s just say she hooked a sister up. We shot at The Grove in Los Angeles for three days. I had to be there at 5:00 PM to get hair and make-up done, and we started filming around 10:00 PM and didn’t end until around 5:00 AM. Unfortunately for me, that was the week I was shooting the promo for Starz with Ray Lewis and so I literally was going from one set to another with very little sleep in between.

Looking back, it was worth it. Not only did I get my vouchers, but I got a chance to see what so many actors new to Hollywood go through. Many of them move here and head straight to Central Casting to do background work in hopes of getting in the union. The process, which can take months or years because the likelihood of getting vouchers is not always guaranteed, leaves many of them living hand to mouth. Like this guy I met from Dallas who slept in his car for nearly two months when he first moved to LA. When not napping, I talked to as many people as I could and gave them my contact info if they needed assistance. Many of them didn’t complain and were so excited to finally be in Hollywood pursuing their dreams.

And if that wasn’t enough, Kerry Washington even interacted with us backgrounders between shots, getting on the bullhorn, leading us in songs. She was so awesome.

Eddie, on the other hand, headed straight back to his trailer. I guess he was just as tired as I was. But when the director yelled action he was on it. It was really amazing to watch. Fact is, for all I’ve learned in my acting classes nothing beats on the job training. Needless to say, in the two months since, I’ve booked a Country Wide Insurance commercial and had some really good auditions…. I have to say things are really looking up!

Jasmine Simpkins is a writer, producer and actress living in Los Angeles. She covers Hollywood from both in front of and behind the scenes. Her thoughts and experiences are chronicled exclusively for www.urbanthoughtcollective.com.


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