Helping a Friend, I Gained a Job
May 13, 2011
When I was 21 and in my third year of college, I “took a break” from school. I’m now 46 years old. It’s been a long break. After leaving college, I remained in my school job as a waitress, furthering my food service credentials. I worked split shifts at two different restaurants and still found time and energy for a social life, thus proving my youth.
One of my waitress co-workers, Ginger, was an actress and her boyfriend, Fred, was a casting director. (Yes, Fred and Ginger. I know.) Ginger had been helping Fred as his assistant on her days off but found she needed more free time for auditions. She told me she would cover my lunch shifts if I would help Fred. This was to be the auspicious start of my years in show business.
I was lucky. Fred was a great boss and an excellent casting director. I learned a lot by doing (he wasn’t a micro-manager) and a lot by watching (he was talented). I planned schedules and set up appointments, I talked to actors and agents and managers. I helped clients. I learned about acting technique, lighting, editing and negotiation from this assistant job. In short, I learned how to be a producer. At the time I thought I was merely answering phone calls and getting coffee for the ad agency people but in retrospect, I know that this job is where I got the foundation for my career in television.
I don’t advocate quitting college. I do plan to return someday and finish my education. I regret not getting a diploma, but I will never regret giving Ginger my lunch shifts.
—Lisa is a former comedy writer for television. She now writes about her funny family at her blog Smacksy.com.