Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On Fame

So I live in Los Angeles, right? Well, Glendale, okay, but I can walk to Los Angeles in under five minutes, so there. But we gots lots of famous people here, right? I can't wrap my brain around fame. Specifically, why "regular" people think famous people aren't regular. Don't get me wrong, I don't think famous people are regular, but I can't figure out why.

When I was a little girl (specifically that girl in the picture there) I wanted to be famous. Well, no, I take that back. I wanted to be an actress or a writer or a singer and I wanted a big-ass audience. A lot of actors go into the business to become other people because they don't much like themselves. But I love me (because really, is there any blogger who doesn't just adore them little selves?)! I simply wanted to be me all over the place. I wanted to play for a living and invite others to play with me.

As I got older (and more aware of anxiety disorders) I became a bit more wary about the whole thing. I don't remember specifically what aspects of fame had a red flag for me, but there were some. I wondered if I could be the boss of my fame. Maybe not have to do publicity (I was getting pretty savvy there in lil' ol' Michigan). Woody Allen seemed to have some control of his fame (pre Soon-Yi). Not that I was gonna be Woody Allen, but could I keep a low profile like him?

Then Rebecca Schaeffer was shot in the chest by a stalker in the doorway of her apartment building. She was almost famous. Dude, she lived in apartment building, fergodsakes. She was a regular 21 year-old actor just starting to get somewhere. I was 19. That got me over "fame" in one swell foop. I decided writing was the career for me.

Until I discovered Voiceovers, that is. One of its many pluses was that I could be famous and no one would know who the heck I was (although I have since learned that many of my animation friends have some pretty creepy fans). And the thing is, you've heard my voice. I've been doing this for 12 years and I assure you in that time you've heard me on the TV or radio or at the movies. That's famous enough for me. I am regularly delighted that I made the choices I did.

My first cousin is famous. You may not have heard of her because you may not be the right demographic. In many ways she may be more famous for her beauty and style than for her film and TV work since she really hasn't been doing it for that long and only has so much work under her belt. But if you've been on the cover of magazines, yer famous.

Now this is my little cousin we're talking about. She's the closest thing I've ever had to a younger sister. And since she's always been beautiful she was a jewel of a plaything when I was a kid. I actively remember her sixth birthday. She's the first "person who is younger than me" who I really remember being a dinky child. So does her being famous change the way I feel about her? Did she suddenly become different? I don't know. I'm very proud of her. I think she's good at what she does, and in fact always getting better at it. But I've also seen through her that fame sucks. Not that I've heard her complain; that's just my take on it. But this woman is not that famous, yet she has virtually no privacy. Paparazzi take pictures of her walking her dog. Tabloids print hilariously untrue stories about her. Someone decides she's chubby, when she's the tiniest little thing. Someone hears a conversation of hers on the street and it ends up in a magazine. Complete strangers decide they love her or hate her - her as an actual person, not a character - without knowing a thing about her. And lord knows I do that with stars. Clearly I'm just as bad as the rest of the "audience."

I sat next to a very attractive actor at a play last week. He was delightfully sweet and chatty. But I was definitely extra excited by him than I would have been by any other delightfully sweet and chatty very attractive man who sat next to me at a play. Why?! I regularly see very very famous actors at my agency. Sometimes they even talk to me. I don't behave like a fool. Outwardly. Inside, I behave like a fool. Why? (I'm sure a professional has made a study of this phenomenon. I'd like to know what they came up with.)

If tomorrow, one of my dear friends got a sitcom job and it suddenly turned into something like Friends, and they were catapulted to stardom, would that change how I felt when I was with them? I don't effin' know! And I don't like that I don't know and I don't like that I might feel different. This is assuming that they are no different. And I like to think that my closest friends would not uncharacteristically become complete assholes just because they got famous. I like to think I can pick 'em better than that. I think famous people who are assholes were assholes when they were nobody.

I guess it all comes down to my concern that I'm shallow. And I am shallow, lord knows. But am I that shallow? Is there no water in the pool? I have to constantly remind myself: these people are just actors. ACTORS! Hell, I'm an actor! And honestly, many many actors are as bad as the stereotypes say they are. They are dumb, they are hollow, they are selfish. Not all of them, certainly. But it's a weird career choice, one often selected by the ego troubled. I must just remember that. It should be my mantra. "He's just an actor, he's just an actor. He's no different from my dentist." But then again, my dentist reminds me of Errol Flynn and has freakishly famous patients. He might not be a good example. I have an odd reverence for dentists.

Clearly troubled,


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