I recently found this picture from a day on the set of the feature film Powder, where I first met actor Jeff Goldblum. Since posting it on my personal Facebook page, many friends have asked about the story behind it.
It was 1995. I was 19-years-old and a senior in college at the University of Houston (UH). One more semester and I would graduate with my BA in TV-Film and minor in Theater. I wanted to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but my parents weren't so sure - yet.
In the months before the production came to town, I was reading a copy of the Hollywood Reporter, a Hollywood trade magazine, and saw that Powder was coming to film in Houston. And I knew I had to find a way to get on the set.
During the spring semester, I talked to a friend at UH who was interning on the film, and I got him to take me along with him to the production office to ask if they needed another intern. When we arrived, they seemed a bit dubious about taking on another intern. So, I made myself invaluable by working hard. I fixed copy machines, hauled ice, cleaned popcorn machines, and endured an office-wide water gun shoot out. I can't remember exactly how it happened, but while working in the production office, I caught wind of the production needing extras for a high school classroom scene. True, I was a bit too old, but I knew I could still pull it off. So, after speaking with casting, I was cast as an extra in the scene.
Before my scene was even shot, I was working as an intern on an outdoor scene with Jeff Goldblum, Mary Steenburgen, and Sean Patrick Flannery. Then, as I was sitting with some friends on the back of a production vehicle, Jeff Goldblum chatted with us, and eventually asked if I wanted to do a cold reading of a script with him. So, I did.
After I walked away to haul some ice (film interns get the least glamorous jobs you can imagine), Jeff told my friend, "she's good." That moment led to what happened next. . .
A couple weeks later we were on the set of the classroom scene where I was an extra playing a high school student and Jeff was our science teacher. During the few days we spent shooting there, my parents came to visit. It was then they met Jeff Goldblum. He told them I should move to Los Angeles and study with him and other teachers at Playhouse West in North Hollywood.
That was in March. I turned 20 in April, graduated from the University of Houston in August, and moved to Los Angeles in September. I'd made friends (some of whom I know to this day) on the set of Powder who greeted me when I arrived in L.A. Before the end of the year, I was enrolled at Playhouse West taking classes with Jeff Goldblum and Robert Carnegie.
I studied with them for two years.
The acting training I received at Playhouse West not only immensely helped me grow as an actor, but also informed the way I write dialogue for both fiction and film.