Lifetime Movie Network Brings Back Memories
I’ve recently been watching Lifetime Movie Network which is channel 426 on Time Warner Cable for our area.
One of the films I recently saw was called “Losing Isaiah.” I won’t tell you the whole story, but I will say this. A very young Halle Berry plays a drug addicted and very lost woman who leaves her baby in a cardboard sack near a dumpster when she goes for a fix.
The baby is found by the garbage man and the baby winds up in foster care and is adopted without Berry’s knowledge.
Jessica Lange plays the adoptive mother who is a social worker and Samuel L. Jackson takes on Berry’s case pro bono.
At the end of the picture I noticed the casting director was Ellen Chenoweth. That brought back a flood of memories.
I knew Ellen back in the 1980s when she was first starting out as a casting director. I knew her as a friend/acquaintance. I can’t exactly remember where we first met, but I do remember her giving me great tips and introducing me to people in the industry. She said I should always make as many contacts as possible, but those contacts wouldn’t get me parts without talent. The talent has to back you up.
In bringing up her name on Google, it is evident she has done a ton of films as acting director including most recently “Duplicity” and “Gran Torino.”
She brought me in on a couple of auditions and got me full scripts for the roles. Most actors just get “sides,” which are the actual audition scenes without knowing the rest of the script. By giving me the whole script she was giving me the best possible chance of getting the part.
From there, the process went through my agent Tom Jennings who went to bat for me all the time, specifically coaching me on what energy I should bring to a part and what parts I should really go for.
I should say it is very difficult to get an agent as an unknown, but I met him at the pilot shoot of a show called “Mulberry Street,” that my then boyfriend was in. He came up to me and said, “You’re beautiful. Where are you from? I haven’t seen you around.”
I explained to him I had just moved with my boyfriend specifically so we could shoot this pilot, which was never picked up. He offered me a meeting at his Beverly Hills office the next day. I went to the meeting with great expectations and Tom agreed to take me on as a client representing me for film and TV.
As it turned out, Tom didn’t follow through and my big break never came. But I gave it a shot and the memories are there.
Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com