Everybody Gets Their 15 Minutes.

December 10, 2009

I did some research on the whole “15 minutes of fame” and I came upon this definition:  15 Minutes. I had no idea that Andy Warhol coined the phrase, hmmm, neat.

So I was thinking, when will it be my turn? Then I remembered something, I ALREADY had mine. I was 11 years old, a student at Montevideo Elementary school and  the only kid at my school taking drama classes at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. The year before, my parents took me to see A Christmas Carol and I remember seeing the kids on stage and telling my mom I wanted to do that. A month later I applied for the program and was admitted. I think I got in because I went to the audition dressed to perfection wearing a red winter coat with my hair in perfect curls, just like Shirley Temple.

The girl that interviewed before me was denied, so I felt the pressure when I went into my interview, but Gayle (I still remember her name) loved me and brought my parents in the room immediately to share the good news. I enrolled in several classes and less than a year later I was invited to audition for a Christmas Carol.

I had never been on an audition before and did not realize what a big deal it was to audition for ACT’s A Christmas Carol. The process was very much like you see in the movies. The first day there were LOTS of kids in the room, many of them already practicing lines. I was just hanging out with my parents, waiting to be called into the room.I won’t go in to all the details of the audition, but it lasted several days, each day being called back and each day less and less kids, until one day there were only about 20 of us.

I came home from school one afternoon and both my parents were home. My mom told me in the kitchen, “Well, you got a part!” I was so excited, this was my first real break, I was going to be a “Carol Kid”. I was cast as the role of Daughter of Christmas Past and Want. I didn’t have any lines which I thought was a real bummer. I really wanted to be Little Fan or the first Mexican Cratchit. I started rehearsals right away and by mid-November I was put on Independent Study and did not go back to school full time until January. This was totally professional. I did 10 shows a week, had a dresser and a make-up artist. My make-up for Daughter of Christmas Past was very whimsical and beautiful, after they applied the make-up, the artist would do the final touches which include a solid 10 second blast of spray paint glitter. I am fairly sure that product was not intended to be put on the skin, but it sure did look pretty. After I went on stage for the role of Daughter of Christmas Past, I had to rush back to make-up take it all off and then reapply make-up for the role of “Want”. I was supposed to look dirty, smelly and raggedy. They would just slather different shades of brown make-up all over my body, frizzed up my hair, and dressed me in rags.

In my role as Want, me and my partner, Ignorance, had to hide under the robe of the actor playing Ghost of Christmas Present and then “TADA”, there we were. We had to hide under there for a good 3 minutes, which would not have been soo bad, except my partner used to pinch the actor (on my side, so he thought I was doing it ) and he would also fart, A LOT. He was so gross. My partner had to wear the same type of make-up as I did and one day after a matinee instead of reporting to the chaperone, he went outside, down the street and begged for money. Why didn’t I think of that? Kidding. My parents always picked me up between every show and took me to lunch. I never had to hang out with chaperone.  It is truly one of my fondest childhood memories.

Every year we go and see a Christmas Carol, it would not feel like Holiday time without it. Up until a few years ago, they were using the same adaptation, same sets, songs and scripts from when I was in the 1986 show  The new version is also terrific and they have added some neat special effects. We are going to see it this weekend. I truly cannot wait until I can bring my own kids.

My life as an actor did not last too long. After a Christmas Carol I got an agent and went on several auditions. I got a few small parts in print ads, nothing huge. I really was not committed enough and thankfully my mother was the antithesis of a stage mom. One day I told her, I really like school, I don’t want to miss anymore school. She said “Fine”. Called my agent and that was it.

My 15 minutes is not exactly what I had in mind but I’ll take it. I even have an awesome supply of the headshots below. Please let me know if you would like one, I will gladly send it your way.


5 Responses to “Everybody Gets Their 15 Minutes.”

  1. Barbara Says:

    Valerie, that is so cool! I can’t believe that I know a child star! It is probably better that you gave it up back then, or you could have a reality series on VH1 about you- and not in a good way. 🙂

  2. Papa Kovo Says:

    Your time for fame may have come and gone but Mar will be rocking ‘so you think you can dance’ in no time.

  3. Kristin Says:

    Hi Valerie,
    Loved this post! You always make me laugh! Can’t really see the headshot though, when I opened it, it was a life size, fill my whole screen picture, so I could only scroll to see parts of your face at a time 🙂 Have fun this weekend!

  4. Casey Says:

    Did you also change the spelling of your name to stand out at the Latino Agency? Love that! Also curious why we’ve never seen re-enactments of this part you had? We’ve all been privy to dance recitals but never your claim to fame- next time there’s a stage you’re on it with your head under some smelly guys costume- Can’t wait!

  5. Kristin Says:

    Me again! I tagged you as a Kreativ blogger. Check out my blog 🙂

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