This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chew 'Em Up and Spit 'Em Out: Toxic Hollywood

I could see it in her eyes, things weren't the same. The bubbly, blue-eyed blonde, devoutly Christian girl from Illinois liked to sing and dance. She was a rising star in her hometown-- the one to watch. Like so many others, she loaded up her car and moved out to Los Angeles to be an actress. She got an agent and a personal manager (with a company I worked for.) Right out of the starting gate, she booked one of the first roles she'd auditioned for-- a principal role on a kids cable series.

She was the envy of all her acting friends. She thought she'd taken off. She thought her star was rising-- that her wholesome beauty and talent would fuel her to the zenith of Hollywood-- that the promise of fame would nourish her. Things sped along beautifully until-- the cable show tanked, the industry slowed down, and the auditions dwindled down to nothing.

We told her we needed new photos. She said she would, she just needed to get some money. She told me to submit her for anything-- even roles with nudity (something she'd vehemently been against before.) Bills were piling up; desperation had set in.

The last time I saw her, I couldn't ignore the changes. Her bubbly personality had flattened as she tried to force a smile. Her blonde hair had lost its luster. Her skin had lost its glow. Hollywood wasn't as easy as it started off to be. She walked out of our offices as a ghost of her former self-- or the "self" that she thought Hollywood had been looking for. She stopped returning our calls. A few weeks later, we ran out of her headshots.

There are so many like her-- the Ellie Parkers. Hollywood is harsh and shark-infested. It's a survivalist's game. Even those who succeed are only moments away from drowning. I think of this now, with the passing of Andrew Koenig last month and Corey Haim just a few short days ago. Oddly, I'd just watched License To Drive about 2 weeks ago for the first time in at least fifteen years. As I'd listened to the interview of Corey Haim on that disc, well before his untimely death this week, I felt the same as I'd had the last time I'd spoken with the blonde: Something in them had been forever altered.

Hollywood loves to crown its kings and queens and is quick to knock them flat. Hollywood can be toxic and it will poison you if you let it. Don't change yourself to what you think Hollywood wants. Be the person you want to be. Those with the surest sense of themselves-- the ones that know who they are as people, not actors, have the best chance of survival.

Acting is not everything. Success doesn't make you. Money can only do so much. And none of it will last. Keep stretching toward your dreams, but don't ever let them consume you whole. And if you feel that you are drowning, resist the urge to reach for drugs, alcohol, or other self-destructive crutches-- instead reach for help. It is out there.

© Copyright 2010 by KLiedle

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