Thursday, October 31, 2013

Last week my 9 year-old goddaughter, Hazel, asked that I attend and present to her class (and other classes) for CAREER DAY.  She suggested that I talk about being a photographer…interesting I thought.

So I drove over to her house for a meeting to discuss the details. 

STEPHON: Photographer?

HAZEL: Yeah.

STEPHON: Well, what do you think about me being an actor?

HAZEL: Okay.

I don’t know if she was, in her own way, suggesting I’m a wannabe actor or what, but I was a little offended by the 9 year-olds’ suggestion…OR maybe she thinks I’m a pretty good amateur photographer.  I won’t ask and risk getting my feelings hurt.

What to do, what to do…

I got it!  I’ll start out with asking the students if there are any actors in the room, ya know, get them involved.  I’ll bring some old headshots, new headshots, put some commercials on a reel and show them some of the work I’ve done over the years.  And I’ll wrap it up with writing a scene for them to perform.  Now I’m excited!  I’ll get as many up on their feet as possible.

Hours later…


I was literally up all night writing a 4-page, 6-person scene for them to perform.  It was a great time; I had at least as much fun as they did. 

I think I better start preparing for next year’s Career Day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Audition: “Buick/GM” @ Kathy Knowles Casting.  This should have been so simple, but it seemed so hard.  Silly right?  I felt as though I was auditioning for a background job; which I had no problem with.  At all.  I just felt like I was trying too hard when the answer would have been to just be…simple.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

YES!  After thinking production had “moved on without me” I received news this evening that I’ve been placed on avail for the “CarMax” commercial.  Needless to say, I’m thrilled.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Most of the time when the mail carrier arrives it is to leave advertisements, bills and often times, checks.

Residual checks.

I’m not sure why actors aren’t receiving these electronically. When I’ve asked the question at union meetings they say that the studios refuse to participate. Usually, these checks are for relatively small amounts, like $57.60 for an airing of the episode of FRIENDS, my very first TV job, I shot in January of 1999. I do remember one day, while living in New York. I was on my way to my restaurant job and stopped by my P.O. Box at Rockefeller Center. In it was the largest check I’d ever seen made out to me, it was 5 digits for a PEPSI job I did in Spain. I was in a fog after looking at it. I don’t even remember the walk the rest of the way to the restaurant.

Or $0.49, before taxes, ($0.27 after taxes) for a film I worked on in 1997.

Actually, several months ago, I reached a milestone in my career. I had finally received one of those residual checks that I had heard so much about. It was a check, made out to me, for…$0.01. For a movie that I am not even in…at least they didn’t take taxes out of it. Glad I’ve got that milestone out of the way. Things can only get better from $0.01…

Right? Of course.

Well I think, “of course” depends what ones definition of “right” is in a particular situation or perspective. “Right” could mean that I received a much larger check than I received, so many years ago, for the PEPSI job. Wouldn’t that be nice?!

Or it could be the milestone-worthy check I received today. Fortunately, it was large enough so that taxes could be taken out of it. This check really put a smile on my face…especially the amount remaining after taxes. It even had a section on it listed “Deposit Advice”!

That’s right. Today I received a residual check for…


* * VOID * *

as in $0.00, (after a $0.01 deduction of FICA-SSA tax).

I will certainly not spend this…“all in one place”.

Callback: “CarMax” @ Brigid Mcbride Casting.  I was good in the room for the most part and I think I had a pretty good connection with the director.  There was one little part that I think I fumbled a little bit, but hopefully that won’t take me out of the running.

Oh, and good news.  My last day at my restaurant job will be Monday the 4th.

Friday, October 25, 2013

It’s official.  I submitted my 2-week notice at my restaurant job.  As of now I plan for my last day to be November 8th.  I’m not exactly sure because I have some Paid Time Off (PTO) days I’m due and around 115+ vacation hours.  Not sure how all of that shakes out.  I’m thrilled, relieved, a little nervous and counting the days until I can rest my body, mind and spirit. 

Hopefully I won’t stress too much.  I’ve spent 5 ½ years preparing my escape from the grueling overnight schedule.  I don’t feel I could be much more ready than I am.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Life on Martel Ave…

EXT. Martel Ave – 10:00am

Stephon Fuller, African-American, thin…ish, 40’s, wearing spectacles that are designed to make him look…smart.

I’m driving a spotless, white, 2012 Acura TSX towards the end of my street on my way to a 10:15am commercial audition. Before getting to the end of the street I spotted an elderly woman with a cane who looks as though she is attempting to cross the street.

In these situations I like to come to a complete stop so that the pedestrian, especially an elderly person, feels safe and is able to cross the street safely.

I stop the car, but the woman stands in place without attempting to cross the street. I flash my high beams. She still stands in place without moving. So I motion with my hand indicating that it’s safe to cross.

She then looks directly at me and points. Me, not sure what to do, slowly creep forward towards her.

To self. “Uh no, maybe she was waiting for a ride from a friend and she thinks it’s me.” It’s not me. I gotta get to this audition.

I lower my passenger window.

STEPHON: Hi, how are you?

ELDERLY WOMAN: I’m waiting. You take me Bank of America. On Sunset. I pay you.

I’m thinking “what??” Well, how bad could it be Sunset is right behind me.

STEPHON: Umm…on Sunset?

ELDERLY WOMAN: You take me. I pay you.

STEPHON: …okay.

I unlock the passenger door, clear the seat of personal items and she eagerly gets in my car. Did I say she eagerly got in my car? She brought the cane with her too.

What the heck just happened? I have no idea…

She had to be 80 years-old…at least. But 80 is the new 53.

I made sure she was buckled in, turned right, off of Martel and onto Fountain, and took the first right onto Vista because, after all, Sunset is right there…

(At this point I did something that might be illegal…I recorded our conversation.)

ELDERLY WOMAN: I am nervous.

STEPHON: You’re nervous?



ELDERLY WOMAN: Where are you from?

STEPHON: Virginia originally.


STEPHON: Where are you from?



ELDERLY WOMAN: Long time here?

STEPHON: 15 years.


STEPHON: 20 years! You beat me!

ELDERLY WOMAN: Huh? You know me?

STEPHON: No, I don’t know you.

ELDERLY WOMAN: 20 years, but I can’t drive now. My eyes…close. I have car, but I can’t 3 years no.



STEPHON: Glaucoma, yes, I understand.


(CON'T) STEPHON: You have family in this area?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Yes, my son don’t like it. He lives in New York.

STEPHON: Oh okay.

ELDERLY WOMAN: He live in New York. He don’t like California.


ELDERLY WOMAN: I pay the registration for my car. $150. DMV. DMV tell me if you don’t drive, you don’t pay.


ELDERLY WOMAN: But last year I pay $200. I don’t know.

STEPHON: I think it’s planned non-operation (PNO).

ELDERLY WOMAN: But I don’t put my car outside. Only garage.

STEPHON: Do you plan to sell the car?


STEPHON: Are you selling it?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Yes I sell it. Toyota Camry. I drive almost 13,000 miles. 2007.



STEPHON: 2007!?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Nobody, nobody ever sit in backseat.


ELDERLY WOMAN: Never. Only I drive.


ELDERLY WOMAN: One time I’m driving and my eye {GASP} and my eye goes like this.

STEPHON: You can’t see?

ELDERLY WOMAN: {Gestures} I can’t see, my eye goes like these. What is this, what is this? And I stop. I can’t drive. I call my friend. I go to doctor.

She then looks at me and closes one eye.

(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: I can’t see you.

Opens eye.

(CON’T) I can only see you 50%.

(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: My son is crazy. I’m sorry. 24 thousand cash give. Why? Lease? You did lease? Know how they give I don’t know.

I couldn’t really understand what she was getting at here.


At this point I’m really wondering where I am taking this woman. I have an audition to get to…and I'm headed in the opposite. Completely opposite.

(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: Your car is new?

STEPHON: Uh, 2012.


STEPHON: Yeah, I bought it used.

ELDERLY WOMAN: You pay money or a lease?

STEPHON: Pay money.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Like me, no good.

STEPHON: Wow, 2007?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Toyota Camry, it’s good.

STEPHON: Only 13,000 miles.


STEPHON: Beautiful car.

ELDERLY WOMAN: I don’t go for rebate. Nothing. If you want to see I give my telephone number you come see.

STEPHON: …Okay. If I know anybody who is looking.


STEPHON: How much do you charge?


Crossing La Brea on Sunset.

(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: You have family here?

STEPHON: No, no family here.


STEPHON: Yes, in Virginia and one sister in Alabama.

ELDERLY WOMAN: My brother in the Paris. I like Paris.


ELDERLY WOMAN: You been there?

STEPHON: Not yet. One day.

ELDERLY WOMAN: You go; you are young. Very good.

In front of ArcLight on Sunset. She hears loud startling noise from a nearby truck.

(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: What. Ooh. …Are you working?

STEPHON: Yes, I work at a restaurant and I’m an actor.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Whoa actor, good.


ELDERLY WOMAN: Yeah. Interesting huh? Restaurant?

STEPHON: It’s called ……..

ELDERLY WOMAN: I go in my country Doctor, MD.

STEPHON: Doctor? Okay, wow.

ELDERLY WOMAN: I didn’t pass the license here because I don’t speak English. Try two times for the exam. Didn’t pass. Language is difficult for me.


ELDERLY WOMAN: In my country, I go, I can open my office.

STEPHON: Right away.


STEPHON: Well, your English has come a long way.

ELDERLY WOMAN: My English is no good.

STEPHON: I understand you perfectly.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Because you understand. I only own a dictionary and TV. I never go to school here.


ELDERLY WOMAN: You speak one language?

STEPHON: (laughs) yeah, only one…a little bit -

ELDERLY WOMAN: Is good. I speak Armenian. I speak Russian. Little English; not too much English, Turkish.

STEPHON: Armenia, very close to Turkey.

ELDERLY WOMAN: My neighbor is Turkish, I learn. She speak, I learn too. It’s easy language.

STEPHON: Turkish is easy?


STEPHON: Armenian is easy?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Armenian is difficult.

STEPHON: Do you know how to write them too?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Everything. Armenia write and read. Russian write and read. My country I go 12 years for the school, high school, 10 years for MD.


ELDERLY WOMAN: 24 years, all of my life.


(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: Your work is this way?

STEPHON: (laughs) No.

ELDERLY WOMAN: (laughs) No. My God, I’m later for you.

STEPHON: It’s…uh…okay. I feel it’s the right thing to do.

Long Pause

ELDERLY WOMAN: how much you pay money for the rent?

STEPHON: Uh, almost $x,xxx.xx


STEPHON: Alone, yes.

ELDERLY WOMAN: You work and –

She starts to give directions

STEPHON: I’m going to Vermont? Oh that’s Western.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Vermont, left, then two blocks Bank of America.


(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: $x,xxx.xx…me? 4 people $1,100. For you, difficult.

STEPHON: Yeah, by myself.

ELDERLY WOMAN: You give energy, you give gas, give rent, telephone, you give insurance, you give…nothing left.

STEPHON: Nothing left.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Everything give, give.


(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: My cousin has restaurant too, but he sell restaurant.

STEPHON: Restaurant in Los Angeles?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Yes, Santa Monica. He sell because not too much come in money. Right now it’s difficult. Everything is expensive.


At this point there is a woman in the middle of the street, trying to cross moving traffic with no crosswalk. Of course I stop.

STEPHON: (to self) Slow down, slow down.

ELDERLY WOMAN: This is crazy!

STEPHON: (laughs) re: woman in street: Uh huh.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Yeah, look, don’t afraid.

STEPHON: No crosswalk.

ELDERLY WOMAN: What is your name?

STEPHON: Stephon.

ELDERLY WOMAN: (Excited) Armenian name! Many Armenian name Stephon! Yes! It’s a…holy name. Stephon yeah. My name is Madia.

STEPHON: Madia. Nice to meet you Madia!



(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: Stephon. Stephonous!

STEPHON: (Laughs)

ELDERLY WOMAN: Yeah, holy. Too many Armenian men.

STEPHON: Do you always go to this particular Bank -

ELDERLY WOMAN: You go to Vermont, make left.


ELDERLY WOMAN: Vermont is coming, another one is Vermont.


ELDERLY WOMAN: 20 years ago, not too much cars. Now, too much cars come people. (Re: traffic) What is this?


(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: You pay the insurance? How much?


ELDERLY WOMAN: $xxx Because is new.


ELDERLY WOMAN: After 2 years is going down.

We pull into the Bank of America parking lot…

STEPHON: You were waiting for someone to pick you up.

ELDERLY WOMAN: No, nobody don’t come because I maybe I have somebody…my credit card…they crazy. My number won’t take…check…


(CON’T) ELDERLY WOMAN: Okay, thank you very much.


ELDERLY WOMAN: Now I pay you.

STEPHON: No, no you don’t pay me. Can I get a photo.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Me? No. Take my number. xxx-xxx-xxxx. You call. You sell my car, I’m happy.

STEPHON: $15,000? Toyota?

ELDERLY WOMAN: $15,000, Toyota Camry.



STEPHON: What color?

ELDERLY WOMAN: Silver. This color.

STEPHON: Silver. Okay

ELDERLY WOMAN: Thank you Stephon.

STEPHON: You’re welcome!

ELDERLY WOMAN: I wait your call.

STEPHON: okay.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Thank you, have a nice day. Now you can go to work. Maybe 1 hour…

STEPHON: Bye-bye.


So that’s how my morning started yesterday. I have no idea why she was going to that particular B of A, because I passed about 127,000 other B of A locations along the way.

I arrived at my commercial appointment 45 minutes late and had a great audition!

This happened yesterday and guess who I saw today while driving on my street? Yup. Did I stop? Nope. I was really in a hurry this time and had to keep it moving.

Audition: “Nike” @ Ross Lacy Casting.  Fun, low-key acting was the order of the day for this one and I think I nailed it.