My life as an Actor
I call this section “My Life as an Actor” because I can never remember a time in my life when I didn't have a passion for performing. My parents say that before I could even walk, I’d pull myself up in front of the TV while they were watching American Bandstand, and I’d put on a dance show of my own. My first public performance was a ballet recital at age 4 and I was hooked. All through school, I was involved in every performance opportunity including school plays, dance recitals, choir, band, and community theatre. My mother claims I started begging her for an agent when I was only 7. My mom never discouraged me, but had no desire to be a “stage mother,” so I had to wait until I graduated from University of California, San Diego and moved to the Los Angeles area to pursue a professional acting career.
In LA, in the mid-80's, I started by doing extras work in order to get on TV and movie sets and learn everything I could. It was a great education working with actors like James Earl Jones, Lou Diamond Phillips, Carrol O’Connor, Andy Griffith, C. Thomas Howe, Mark Harmon, and directors like Carl Reiner and Michael Landon.
During that time, I also got involved in a teaching repertory theatre, “Theatre III,” which was owned by Jason and Justine Bateman and their father Kent, who was a producer. That was when Jason was on the show “Valerie’s Family” and Justine was on “Family Ties.” Their father wanted them to have a place where they could be involved in dramatic acting as a balance to their sitcom work. Theatre III on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood became my acting “home.”
After I got my Screen Actors Guild eligibility by an upgrade in a commercial, I studied at the Tepper-Gallegos Commercial Workshop, and soon signed with the Bobby Ball Agency. (It is almost impossible to get a reputable agent in LA without being SAG eligible.) I was able to book a few small roles, including a role in a film that Helen Reddy’s daughter directed, but mostly it was a time to take advantage of some more wonderful training opportunities, including a summer spent in the conservatory at the Tony Award winning theatre, “South Coast Repertory.”
When my husband’s job moved us to the San Francisco area, I continued acting in community theatre and had my first opportunity to teach acting. Then in 1993, another job-related move brought us to Orlando, FL. It turned out to be a terrific career-move for me as well. I soon began performing with MurderWatch Mystery Theatre on Disney property and at The Civic Theatre (now Orlando Rep). When I realized Central Florida had a commercial and film industry, I brushed up on camera technique at KVG studio, signed with the Hurt Agency and started booking 1 out of 3 auditions I went out on. I soon became an instructor at KVG, teaching Commercial Technique and Beginning Acting. When KVG closed several years later, I taught private acting lessons and children’s classes at LA Acting. I also stayed busy co-writing and directing a weekly on-going drama for the children at our church. And I continued to book acting jobs consistently.
Because I worked so much, I often had other actors ask me to teach a class on auditioning techniques. In January of 2004, I was thrilled to begin CAST, Commercial Actors Success Training. I designed this course based on my training and experience of what it really takes to successfully audition and work in commercials and industrials.
During that first year, I had a growing number of students who wanted to continue studying with me after they completed the CAST course. They asked me to teach an on-camera class focused on film acting. That’s how ACT, Actors’ on-Camera Training, came to be. Our first class began in January of 2005. I really enjoyed teaching both courses. Then, my students who had children ask me to start classes for their kids. I started teaching the CAST KIDS class in August 2007 with a waiting list. I'm so thrilled with the success the children are experiencing with their new confidence at auditions!
I feel very blessed! Mark, my terrific husband, has been incredibly supportive throughout my acting journey. We recently celebrated 37 years of marriage! I love my grown-up kids- Jack, James, and Christy. My family, including my parents who live nearby, has allowed me to become what I’d always dreamed of becoming… a successful working actor and teacher!
And yes, that's me in the Sunsetter Awning commercial.... It ran for over 14 years! It has been talked about on Late Night, tweeted about by Drew Carey, found its way into a Dry Bar comedy routine, listed in BuzzFeed's 32 Commercials That Have Haunted Every Single Millennial For Their Entire Life, was morphed into a Mario Bros. parody and a music video on YouTube, and became a meme on TikTok. You never know in this biz...