So I Used to Want to Be an Actor (Part I)

by Rachel on October 19, 2011

This has been a really busy week for me at work, but it’s been really good. I’m loving the project I’m currently working on (more on that next month…lots of cool stuff going on behind the scenes here!) and I’ve been having a lot more fun with the site lately because I’ve been making more videos. But as I was creating my newest video last night and having a ton of fun, I started to think about why, exactly, I gave up acting. I mean, it used to be The Thing About Me. So…how did I get to a point where I’m not all really interested anymore?

Well, like most of my stories, it’s kind of a long one. Let’s start at the beginning!

A Star Is Born

(I’m using a header like that because that’s the kind of shit I’d say when I was in the period of my life I’m about to describe.)

My dad was an actor and writer, so I was exposed to the theater at a very early age. My mom took me to Shakespeare in the Park when I was 18 months old and I was into it. He was also in a touring company called Child’s Play, which performs stories and poems written by children, so I attended a lot of those shows. Here I am after one of his Child’s Play shows wearing his hat and wig.

One of my earliest memories of my dad is seeing him perform in a show called The Butter and Egg Man. I think I was about three years old. I couldn’t tell you what character he played or where the show was — he performed at a lot of the major theaters in Chicago, like the Goodwin and Steppenwolf — but I remember a scene in which he came through a door wearing a fedora. At the end of the play, during the curtain call, my mom let me walk up the aisle to the front of the stage to give him flowers. He bent down and picked me up onto the stage with him.

My dad bought me an acting kit for kids when I was very young; there are many pictures and home videos of us play acting, my face often  covered in the waxy makeup that came in the kit. In one memorable old-fashioned melodrama, he was demanding that I must pay the rent and I was protesting.

I don’t know when I decided that I wanted to be an actor myself; it was just something I always just knew, like knowing I had brown eyes.

My mom took me to my dad’s agency when I was a toddler and they represented me too. I did a lot of print work all over the city of Chicago — ads, catalogues, etc. I did an ad for winter coats that ran in Essence magazine; we shot it during the heat of the summer in Chicago. I also did a Marshall Fields ad for Mother’s Day that ran as posters all throughout their stores and all over the city.

When I was four years old, I got my first opportunity to be in a commercial for…Pepto Bismol! During casting, it came down to me and one other girl. The problem was that the ad agency liked one of us, but the Pepto Bismol people liked the other. In the end, they flew both of us to Hollywood to decide there. They flew my mom and me first class and put us in an amazing hotel. I went to the commercial set, where I learned what Kraft services was…it was The Coolest Thing Ever. I ended up being the back-up for the commercial — I basically stood there while they adjusted the lighting and got the set just right. And then we ordered lots of room service and went to Universal Studios.

It was a great trip.

Annnnd then we moved to Michigan so my budding career as a commercial star was over!

Part II to come!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lisa @ I'm an Okie October 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

This needs a like button.

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2 Deva @ Deva by Definition October 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

I love the old photos of you with your dad, they’re so sweet.

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3 Amanda @ Click. The Good News October 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

These old photos are fantastic & you’ve got some great stories!

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4 Nicole October 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm

this was so cute!!

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5 David Bontumasi October 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Rachel,

This is a great post. The little girl in those pictures (especially image #3) is the one I remember — very cute and extremely charming. THE BUTTER AND EGG MAN was at Northlight Theatre in Evanston. I remember your dad giving me your model card from Stewart Talent for he was very proud of his little actress.

David

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6 Melissa October 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

This is totally random, but really really cool! I don’t know anyone who’s done anything like this! Looking forward to reading Part 2!

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7 Breann October 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Heartbreaker about the Pepto Bismol gig….that definitely would’ve been your big break

P.S. such cute photos of you as a babs!

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8 Dori October 20, 2011 at 9:44 am

You were TOO cute. And your face didn’t even change really. I was also almost a star. I was chosen for a Pampers commercial, and after my mom and I sat there for hours and hours (a hard task for a mom with a baby) they decided in the end to go with a boy and dress him up as a girl. I wonder where that boy is now and what his life is like. Gotta be rough. Also, I got paid $300. So it was technically my first job!

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9 Kari October 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

Love the photos! Looking forward to reading Part II!

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10 Kari October 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

this is such a lovely post of you and your dad! very sweet… :) too bad about the commercial not working out..but I bet the experience was awesome. those old pictures are great too..makes me nostalgic for my family albums now..

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11 cassie October 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm

ah the power of pictures to bring back fond moments in your life… such adorable pictures..

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12 Siyam October 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

I absolutely love the photo of you and your dad in the skit where he’s wearing the orange mustache. Your face is classic :)

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13 Beth November 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I didn’t know any of these stories! LOVE this, Rach. How sweet!!

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