Film, Hipstercrite Life

Coming of Age in Hollywood

my first year in Hollywood

On my blog, I’ve only mentioned a few times that in a previous life I was a personal assistant in Hollywood.
And as I also stated in that post, I don’t talk about that time often because of the a.) WMD-sized confidentiality agreements that loom over my head and b.) because I value a person’s right to privacy. I worked for people who trusted me and I will never break that trust.

I often forget that I was a personal assistant in Hollywood. Occasionally people will ask me my story- where I came from before Austin- and I’m reminded that the Hollywood part of my life was a very big part for 5 years. 5 years in 28 years of a life is, well, I’m terrible at math, let’s see here, a little over a fifth of my life? One day it will be an eighth, then a sixteenth, and then I’ll be dead.

I’m sad that I’m slowly forgetting this important time in my life. Or rather, forgetting the emotions I felt at the time. Like the day that I was asked to work for one of my favorite Oscar-winning actors at 20 years of age.

I had finagled myself an internship at the actor’s small production company. They didn’t need an intern, but I told them that they did. I was studying for a semester in Los Angeles through my college and I wanted to make the very best of it. Who knew if I would ever be back in LA?

I came into the office two days a week and painfully sat in the back room, picking my nose and typing nothing on a bulbous Mac G3. I never saw the actor, for he was off doing actorly things, nor did I see anyone else at the company for that matter except for the assistant who hired me. It was a boring internship but I felt like who I worked for would give me street cred when I would head back home to film school. The semester end was fast approaching and my final assignment had not been completed. The final assignment was to interview anyone in the entertainment business and to not be afraid to go straight to the top. Though the actor was out of town, I had heard interesting tidbits about the president of his company- a twenty-something who had formerly been in the armed services then was the actor’s assistant and now his producing partner- and decided I wanted to interview him. The assistant penciled a time for me to meet with the president of the company and I anxiously awaited for that day to arrive.

There was something a little scary about the president of the actor’s company. Though he had the face of a young man, he had a stoicism that could be unnerving. He had an excellent poker face for Hollywood that he had honed over the years trying to separate his previous image as the actor’s assistant away from his now high-tier title. We sat on the roof patio of the uber-contemporary offices located in West Hollywood and I rattled off questions from my notepad, “What did you do before you came to Hollywood?”, “Did you always know that you wanted to work in Hollywood?”, “What are your goals for the future?” We talked for three hours in the Southern California sun. Within that three hours the president of the company asked me if I wanted to work for him. I reminded him that not only was I still in school, I didn’t know a single thing about how Hollywood worked! He shrugged and assured me that I would learned. My head spinning, I looked at him and asked if I could give him an answer tomorrow. He obliged.

There will always be certain memories you never forget though. One of them was walking away from that meeting, getting into my car, driving my car down Fountain Avenue, listening to the Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and thinking, “This is it. My life is about to completely change.” I called my mother, then my father and said, “I think I’m moving to Los Angeles”. I remember so clearly thinking that I had somehow won the lottery. I had been obsessed with Hollywood ever since I was a little girl and now I was going to be a part of it!

So a memory I do often forget, which saddens me, for it’s one of those events that will never happen again, occurred when I went home for 3 weeks in between the semester and starting the new job. I was at the mall shopping with my mother, picking out clothes for my new gig. My phone rang and it was the president of the actor’s company. He said, “Do you have a second? The actor wants to talk to you.” I nearly shat myself. Up until now, the actor had been pretty elusive, only bumping into him occasionally around the office. I told him to hold on one second and whispered to my mother that I had to find a quiet place. We both ran into the dressing room and I locked myself in, sitting on the ground, waiting to hear the actor’s deep voice come over the line. The actor called to welcome me aboard. I don’t remember a single word that he said. All I remember thinking is, “Last year, I was running to the movie theater to see this actor’s latest movie, now he is calling me on the phone. Me. He called me personally.”

I moved out to LA shortly after and rode a roller coaster I never imagined that I would experience. I ate dinner next to Lindsay Lohan, had drinks with Wayne Gretzky, got hit on by Jeremy Irons, met Robin Williams, felt Jeff Goldblum’s boner, ate at some of the finest restaurants, walked into some of the most exclusive clubs, and often felt as confused and depressed as possible. Sometimes the naivety is better than the reality. The stress I felt in Los Angeles has caused me to forget whole chunks of my time there, but I try so hard to remember the young girl leading up to then and how excited she was to start her life there.

I’m still friends with the president of the actor’s company, who has gone on to producer a string of successful movies- including a recent Oscar nominee. He still runs the actor’s company and I occasionally chat with the assistants who now work there. The actor is still acting, but I sadly haven’t seen a new movie of his in years. When you work for someone- no matter how cool they are in real life- the magic of watching them onscreen kind of flies out the window. I hold a deep fondness in my heart for all of them. Being offered that job in Los Angeles was my gateway into the adult world and will forever be my coming-of-age story.

One that I (obviously) like to romanticize about….

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12 Comments

  • Reply The Kid In The Front Row August 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Hey, this is a wonderful post! I often find people's memories more powerful when they can hardly remember anything at all– all you're left with then is the feeling, and the tiny particles of memories. And somehow that's more powerful.

    Of course, you're going to create lots of curiosity about who you worked for. But I guess it doesn't matter — whether you worked for Kevin Spacey or specifically for Jeff Goldblum's boner, it doesn't matter.

  • Reply Tracy August 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Great post! Very interesting, and you're an awesome writer 🙂