HELLO AMERICA!—There are millions of talented and gifted men and women in our country who have come from humble beginnings but have not allowed that to circumvent their journey forward. They believe it is their destiny to get to the top of the mountain and wave, letting the world know, they had arrived! Linda Livingston, actor, musician, writer and oh, yes MOTHER is one of those talented well prepared women who still believes — and why not? THIS is what she was born to do.
MSJ: What was your world like as a young girl? Were you affected by the music, films and even the theatre influence of your generation of artists?
LINDA: As young girl, as early as elementary school, I wanted to be a singer. I remember singing along with a record in a talent show. I took piano lessons at a young age and due to the influence of my older sibling I was exposed to the music of the early sixties. My father also played a lot of music around the house so I was exposed to artist of his generation: Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Lena Horn (My cousin Chico Hamilton was her drummer)
MSJ: Was there one special actor or musician who made you realize this is where you belonged? If so who and why?
LINDA: I was influenced mostly by teenage singers or actors. And of course the most influential was the Jackson Five. Then you had the likes of Little Dion, The Five Stairsteps, Jimmy Briscoe and even the Osmonds. As far as acting, I wanted to be a child star but didn’t have the resources for proper training. The first movie I ever worked on was a movie called “Inside Moves” starring John Savage.
I ditched my day job to be a basketball fan at the Oakland Coliseum; got paid $2 cash for the day and thought that was a great deal of money. The next movies that I worked as background including: Sister Act, Fearless, Metro, Village of the Damn, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Angles in the Outfield, Pursuit Of Happiness and my latest San Andreas. I started writing in high school. My first still uncompleted novel would have been considered a YA (Young Author) love story.
Then while attending San Francisco State University where I obtained a BA in Music, I wrote my first script for the TV show “Starsky and Hutch” and though it took two years to procure and agent to represent me I did find representation only to find out that the show got cancelled. Also a side-note; the character of Captain Dobey was played by my cousin Bernie Hamilton (brother of Chico Hamilton). My current writing project is a novel entitled “Unexpected Fate,” it’s completed and on a final edit.
MSJ: Because of the social climate at the time, what kind of realities were you confronted with as a female, especially of color?
LINDA: Although color has been a factor and barrier it’s never been my biggest obstacle or challenge. From the time I was a young girl I have never let racial inequalities interfere with my desire and drive to succeed. There’s always a way to tear down or go around that wall
MSJ: What was it like when performing before your first major professional audience? Did you suddenly have doubts about your career decision or was it enhanced?
LINDA: The first major performance I played percussion in a band and we were the opening act for Norman Connors (jazz drummer, composer, arranger and producer). I also experienced singing the national anthem at the Oakland Coliseum before 14,000 fans I am currently playing percussion, keyboards and back-up drums in the band Da-Hook and we play C-jazz and Funk instrumental and vocal music.
MSJ: What disturbed you most about the business that you never anticipated? And how did you handle it?
LINDA: The most disturbing aspect of the business is, having to play music or act for little or no monetary compensation. I get plenty of compliments that I am a really good percussionist but not many bands use percussionist. Therefore, it is not easy to achieve consistent employment as a musician. The biggest blatant challenge I have ever faced is having to work a 9 to 5 to provide for my family and provide medical coverage for the house hold. It makes it difficult when an agent calls to attend an audition with only a day’s notice. However with the kids grown, there’s more time to go on auditions. I am a three fisted entertainer-writer-actor and musician. I struggled with the challenge of balancing between the three.
If my music wasn’t going well I started writing. If the writing wasn’t going well, I started acting, which meant the creative energies flowed from one to the other. Now understanding that, I learned I don’t have to focus on any one facet of my talent because all three exist.
MSJ: Has your opinion changed about the world, yourself since making the journey as a striving artist? If so, how?
LINDA: No. My opinion hasn’t changed the world has. I’m still a striving artist and have no plans to give up the struggle. At one time in my life, I set a goal that if I don’t make it as an entertainer by a certain time in my life I’d give it up, but I found that goal was unrealistic and I don’t feel anyone should set those limits for themselves.