Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Michelle Yeoh

On my Yahoo! homepage, I read this headline, "Hollywood actress blacklisted, deported from Myanmar," and I immediately thought of Patricia Arquette. Why? She did an independent film many years ago called Beyond Rangoon that was about the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. And, of course, because she is white. Hollywood actress most often means white in America.

And then I clicked on the link and it turns out it's a story on Michelle Yeoh, who went to Myanmar to visit the former prisoner, apparently for an upcoming film role. I thought, "Wow, Michelle Yeoh, Hollywood actress!" Yeah, maybe you thought, "Wow, she's gonna portray Aung San Suu Kyi in a movie!" Me, I'm still on Maslow's lowest hierarchy of needs.

I met Ms. Yeoh when she was first entering her role as Hollywood actress. My roommate at the time was a photographer and he was shooting her for the cover of a magazine I was working for. I didn't do the interview, but I did get to be there for the photo shoot. She was lovely and amazing in all of her photos. I tell you, not a bad one in the entire lot! And she was professional and courteous. You could tell, she was going to be sticking around. And, oh, not a trace of a Malaysian accent, which I have to admit, literally causes my ears to bleed.

She had a firm, strong handshake, and looked you right in the eyes, not to eyeboink you, but probably to let you know she could Wing Chun your ass. She was also not young. I had to be about 10 years younger than her at the time, but now, it's as if I've aged and she hasn't changed at all.

About her photo shoot: She was as graceful as a ballerina or dancer, and knew how to move her hair and body. She was not afraid to be a fun and sexy woman, and she could own that in a moment's notice. No pose was like the previous one, and she was athletic too, yo. I mean, she could do the splits, lift one leg up in the air, or twirl her body around several times in a row, and look good doing it all.

Anyway, I just had to write all that. She just had that kind of impression on me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Career Update and an Ode to Roger Fan

My little adventure back into commercials got put on hold after I got a job offer. It was too good to pass up. I probably could've rode out my unemployment just like the other 9% of the population, went on auditions, finished my novel, and worked on my golf swing, but damnit, I got a job offer. This was back in November, mind you, so I'm a little late in reporting it.

I work at a pretty good-sized ad agency now, way bigger than my last one. Not nearly as big as BBDO, but much bigger than BBDO West. We have some respectable clients, ones that shoot tons of commercials every year.

And so, yeah, I'm kinda sad about that. Because I see people I absolutely hate in some of the spots we produce. Unfortunately, I have little to no say on the creative direction of our talent. On the creative direction of our scripts, yes. But that's where my job description ends.

I got this job after doing some freelance work for the company just after getting let go from my last employer. Talk about dumb luck, the freelancer who normally does my job had to take an extended leave of absence due to, well, a death in the family. Not happy circumstances, I know. But I got the call, and then I got offered a full-time position once it opened up. No interview, no background check, just an offer and a welcome to the company.

It's been 8 months now and I'm starting to get the old itch again. Not that itch, the acting itch. I see commercials with the one Asian dude in it and I think, "Dagnabbit, I could've done that!" Then I take a sip of my $12 Costco wine and think, "Ah, regular employment's not such a bad thing."

Yesterday, I got to reading a blog from an old actor friend of mine, Roger Fan, and he's talking about how his two kids take up most of his time and energy these days, and he spends very little time working on his career. He said his career has been on a downward tilt ever since getting married and having kids. I'm not really sure what to think of this blog entry, as it sounds a bit lamenting about the kids and all. But I do like that he's being courageously honest, which is what all writers ought to be, especially bloggers.

If I could tell Roger something, it would be this: Hey, man, long time no see. You looking good still for a daddy of two. I gotta tell ya, you have got it good. Spending all this time in the early, formative years of your kids is a true blessing. My brother-in-law got let go from his job when his young twins were just born. He was out of work for two years, and in the meantime, raised his kids like a champ. Those were some of the best memories he's had since, because ever since then, he's been busy at work, and just recently saw his kids graduate college. "Where did all the time go?" he laughed recently. The time? It flew by while you work to build a career, or to hold onto one. There's varying degrees of that throughout a working person's life. Rarely is work something that truly serves a purpose, other than to keep you working. Paying the bills? Nah, because as humans, we all adjust to our circumstances. When my brother-in-law wasn't working, he didn't suffer. And neither are you, Roger.

But I know you know all that. You're no dummy. After all, you did graduate from an Ivy League school, come from a good family, married to a good, hard-working, smart woman, and you're not too fat to see your penis.

But you sat me down a long time ago, gave me some great information on how to become an actor, and I took it and ran with it. I owe my career to you, bud. But I'm not gonna lament not being able to act or do commercials right now because I'm working a steady job. Things change, jobs change, and people adjust. God plays a role in there, most definitely. But so does having the faith that you are doing exactly what you should be doing right this moment. God wouldn't have it any other way, in fact. But enough about the Big Guy. This is about you, Roger. The Fan Man. You do have a lot of fans, some 2,196 Facebook fans, last I checked.

I'll end this little convo by saying that I once interviewed the actor Robert Ito, of Quincy, M.D. fame. He said he had two kids, his wife, and he didn't know what to do with his life. He was struggling to make ends meet, even though he got regular background dancing gigs in musical theatre. And so he did what most sane people would never do: he packed all his things in the back of a VW Bug and moved his family to California to pursue an acting career. He had very little to fall back on, and he wasn't a young man anymore. He had two kids and a wife, all looking up to him. And that's what you need to remember, Rog. Ask yourself, what the heck am I gonna do now? If I don't do something, how will my kids survive, how will they look at me, how will they be able to go to college? And then buckle down, and make a plan.