"The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." Anne Frank
Tonight I write to you all after having served Jury Duty downtown and digging every minute of it! It was a great reminder that there is a whole wide world of people out there -- and to be open to them, curious about them, kind to them -- this is indeed what art is all about. Being "in awe" to the world as my teacher Shalom would say. And today was that kind of day...
To hear these people's stories -- some were heartbreaking -- because in jury selection, the judge asks you questions and they seem quite simple. Name and location, occupation and spouse... And then their life stories poured out in the small details -- or rather these painful, gripping moments poured out. And I know I'm not supposed to discuss the case or what went on in the court room and so I shall respect my word. But let me just say... I felt grateful and like I was witnessing these portraits of lives I would never encounter if not for this "jury duty" that I have always managed to get out of.
And I am SO happy that I did not get out of this one. Because these people gave me something -- in their facial expressions, in the utterly vulnerable way they answered the questions, in what they chose to say and how they said it. Plus, there was a farmer's market down town with fresh flowers and fresh fruit, homemade soaps and soy candles -- only on Thursday. I ate an inexpensive and fresh Greek salad at the market and sat on the lawn, eating my lunch next to some super cool fellow jurors... It was like this break from what I would normally be doing on a Thursday... Very much a day of listening and learning.
And it's funny because remember how I didn't feel good last night? Well, being in this court, being quiet, listening, being still and not driving around the universe that is Los Angeles, this was actually calming and healing.
I can not fathom that I am saying JURY DUTY was healing. But there you have it. It was. Just goes to show that getting out of our comfort zones is healthy and sometimes listening and having to be in an environment where we swear our word and where we are perhaps a little more alert because we have to be -- not distracted by phones and computers -- this is, can be, a good thing.
Okay, onto my 3 things:
1. Character. Anne Frank knew things at such an tender age. And I know this -- because my first gig as an actor was understudying as Margot Frank & Miep Gees & Anne Frank on Broadway at the The Music Box Theatre in The Diary of Anne Frank. And being half-Dutch, having a father who was in the camps during World War II -- having visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, being granted the special privilege of going up into the actual attic -- the top room where Anne and Peter spent time alone, looking out at the church, stealing their first kiss -- she was an old, old soul who knew things that were far beyond her years. And she was right. It all lies in our hands. We create our own stardom, our own fame, our own critical success. It is up to us to KNOW that we are STARS. That we are eternal -- creating something that will change the world. And she knew this. And I have re-learned this. So, when I am now on my search for the best talent manager out there -- I am looking for only the best. Because I am the best. I will take nothing less.
The whole world changes when we see how truly unique and amazing we are. (I was actually tempted in court when they asked what they may have seen me in to say, "After my movie, you will all know..."
2. Serendipity. My friend Randy Spendlove (the kind face in the upper right hand corner) is the Head of Music at Paramount. I met him in NYC over ten years ago when I was just a kid studying in the city. He was red-cheeked with a swath of white teeth, a big personality bursting with bright, bright California energy -- after all, he hails from Northern California. Back then he worked at A & M Records as the VP of Promotions. And when I sat down with him to lunch yesterday two days ago at Le Petit Greek on Larchmont, www.lepetitgreek.com, he was the same lovely human being! In fact, he's better -- because he's happily married and the father of two beautiful children and loving his job!
And I can say to tempt all of your tummies -- is that when he and I sat down a few months ago to discuss my movie -- let's just say that he and I may have one great big reason to work together if Paramount green lights a pilot movie program he is working on -- and if he digs my movie -- which he will! Then, MAGIC may occur between a kid who met a record guy over ten years ago at The Coffee Shop in Union Square one sunny Sunday after church, while sipping on a hot cocoa. I remember hearing his Dad say that I was like Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany's, sitting all by myself, dressed up and happily enjoying my brunch and the live music...
But honestly, whenever he and I sit down for lunch -- it's sparks of magic, serendipity. MAGIC.
3. The Believer. My friend, much-respected casting director Kim Miscia, was the first casting director to "discover" me. She read me for Anne Frank. And this experience began my whole career. I remember her telling William Morris to sign me, I remember running into her at some gig downtown and her running over to me to remind me of who she was and me feeling flushed that a casting director was running over to me!
Now here we are -- years later. And she is STILL a believer. She has been here all along. To make a call for me. To call me in on a great project. To refer me to a manager or an agent. Or a casting director. I meet with her when I am in NYC. We facebook and email and talk on the phone from time to time.
And there have indeed been times when I have thought -- Gosh, I wish Kim were a manager. She GETS ME. But the truth is -- sometimes just having that one person out there who SO believes in you and has been watching over you, whispering, "grow, grow..." Sometimes this is enough. Because they are out there and they get you. And you can depend on them. And I feel this way about her. I trust her opinion, she has excellent taste. She cast the pilot of Mad Men and she currently casts Gossip Girl.
She graduated from Georgetown and she is beautiful. (And private -- I had a very challenging time finding a picture of her online!) and thus, a sort of shout out to Gossip Girl, which I've never seen -- zoiks!
But the true shout out is to Kim. For being my girl.
Sleep well, my little blades, and as I write -- I am just about to stop watching The Olympics and I have to say -- watching these outstanding athletes glow in their greatest moments after years and years of training -- this is exactly what artists feel when we train for years and years for that shining moment. The Oscar, The Tony. The Emmy. The Golden Globe. I intend on winning ALL of them.
My own private Olympic moment. It's like I heard Rick Fox say on TV tonight -- "Being in The Olympics can change your life. And so can watching it." And that's how I feel tonight -- changed by it. All over again. We are athletes -- athletes of the soul.