HELLO AMERICA!—Many actors and Hollywood’s pasture of fans are not unhappy with the scheduling of many of their favorite shows and films on the tube during COVID-19. I had many of them admit that the old shows on every creative level were better written and performed as well. For example, watching an old “Steve Allen Show,” “Johnny Carson” or a “Desi Arnez” and “Lucy Show,” “Alfred Hitchcock” mystery or “I Love A Mystery” makes your evening worthwhile of TV viewing. I am also turned off with many of the young writers looming over the industry who have exploded into the industry from UCLA, USC and colleges in the area. When I attended two of those institutions, many of the film writing classes stemmed from one of the studios, men and women who were responsible for some of the greatest film stories ever.
Since the industry has obviously opened the doors to include more minority writers, directors and actors, very little has changed based on quality. The writer hired of color believe, obviously, what they have to offer must represent the worse, most uncultured side of the people or characters they create in a film or TV script; most of the characters are represented basically raw, uneducated, have some kind of mental problem, especially the women of color who are represented as human beings can only exist if they are forced to exist on a ghetto street, night club or bar waiting for the next guy for the taking. They are usually pictured as fat, over made up, barely speak the language and simply to be picked by some looser in a shiny car to pick her up to possibly by another sniff of cocaine. So, we still have a long way to go!
There are so many beautiful, hopeful stories involving many people of color that represents forward moving i.e., college struggle, business creation, the struggle of brilliant young ballet dancers (male & female), scientists and of course those gifted in sports covering their struggle to escape where they began to realize their dream. There are so many inspiring stories, ones that would inspire tons of youngsters to believe in their dreams. I know this because as a young kid watching singers like Mario Lanza (finally meeting him), Paul Robeson (meeting him as well), Herb Jeffries and so many others fed me with enough determination to take on the road of struggle as well.
Examining the careers of other artists adds so much to your belief in yourself and what you might eventually be ready to offer. Therefore, I have no problem admitting that I have been inspired by some of the greatest, exciting talents in our industry on all levels. Bette Davis insisted I meet and convince him I would be great to be one of 20th Century Fox PR team (and I was hired on the spot because of Miss Davis), Redd Fox who starred in his own series for NBC and made an appointment for me to meet the head person at that studio which resulted in my becoming one of the Directors at that studio.
There were so many other doors opened because of those who saw or sense something in me which resulted in my receiving experience at nearly every TV and film studio in Hollywood. In my book “Hollywood Through the Back Door” that is being offered to studios currently are pretty much the doors that were kicked up as well as those easily walked through which offered me exciting moments for me to grow as a human being as well as an artist.
I do stress when speaking to high school, college and even workshop acting and music students when exploring being a part of the entertainment world, they should, if possible, not to concentrate on just performing as an actor; they should if they have the talent, to explore music in every form, dancing if they have any notion of going to Broadway or even a small one, singing, no matter how little experience they might have because in a stage show, especially comedies, many of the funny characters half speak and sing the songs which most cases add to the character performance itself.
Before the “Virus” hit us and the world, I was excited as well as my agent Lloyd Robinson was getting my show “I Feel Sin Comin’ On,” Ruta Lee, Marla Gibbs “The Jefferson” series, Leon Isaac Kennedy-star of the “Penitentiary” MGM, all very gifted and exciting faces for the big screen. I stress when lecturing that it is important to have more than the “dream,” one must be prepared on all levels in making that dream a reality. Of course, you are going to deal with quite a few negative responses, well, so what, life is simply that way. If one or two doors are closed to you, the hell with it, simply get up the next day and start calling or knocking again.
My agent, Lloyd Robinson, as soon it was announced that the virus had hit a safe level in California, called to inform me he was arranging a meeting with studio heads concerning two of our productions. Again, that’s show biz.