Today marks my 5-year anniversary of leaving my job waiting tables at The Hollywood Standard. I simply say "Wow!" Five years of making my entire living solely as an actor.
It hasn't always been easy, but sometimes it's been very easy. I've lived a pretty good life since entering the entertainment business, especially after moving to New York to really pursue it.
I remember when I first considered leaving The Standard; I didn't know if or when I would need to return. What I did know was that is was a chance that I had to take. The way I looked at it I wasn’t making that much money for the effort I was putting out. I worked the graveyard shift, 11pm – 7am. I probably could have gotten a more profitable shift like 5pm – midnight, but that would have conflicted with my workshops and classes. Those were considered the “good shifts” and all the “veterans” had those. I had a different plan.
It’s funny, my fellow employees would ask how in the heck I could stand to work the hours that I did. Let me tell you, I played a lot of mind games with myself to justify it. My answer would usually be, “I’m doing this so I won’t have to do this”. Remember, I was working the graveyard shift at a Hollywood Hotspot on The Sunset Strip. Whew!
There were so many shifts when I would be at work at 4:30 am wondering if I was crazy for putting myself through it. I knew one day I would go back there and not have to serve a burger or a mixed drink. That day came when I booked the commercial for Honda/Japan. The production, advertising execs and director happened to be staying at The Standard and had the wardrobe fitting there…….by the pool! It was quite interesting because at the time I had been gone from the job for about a year, but several of the same people still worked there. They were wondering why I was kinda hanging out in the middle of the day sitting in those funky chairs in the lobby. I was waiting for my close-up! I’m kidding, but I must admit that it felt great to be back in that way.
The moment I knew I had to leave was the morning I got off work and parked my car in front of a driveway from like 7:20am until 2pm! Ooops! I was lucky that I didn’t get a ticket or worse towed. Something had to give, I was going crazy.
At first when I left I'd drive by the hotel and wonder if or when I would return. That eventually changed to "I am on a leave of absence from there" to "I used to work there" to "Wow, I used to work there!" to now I can drive by there and not even notice the building. I have to say that is a really great feeling.
Although, it doesn't always feel like such an incredible feat; I know when I look at the numbers of SAG members and the odds against me making a freaking dime in the business it's something to be very excited and proud about.
Being an actor is the best job I've ever had, but I have to say that working at The Harley-Davidson Café was a close second. That was a great time. Well, wait a minute. I HAVE to include my 15+ years working for my parents at the family deli, Philadelphia Cold Cuts, in Virginia Beach, VA. Although it wasn't always a smooth situation; it did teach me things about business and life. My tireless work ethic definitely came from my experiences there. I hope to never have to serve another burger or mixed drink unless it's in a film, TV, stage or commercial project. Don't get me started on working at Old Navy/Beverly Center. Now THAT was a whole ‘nother thing.