A Big Life: Encouragement for People in the Arts –
When I first arrived in New York as a young actress, I met a woman who had a leading part on the popular soap opera All My Children. She told me there was a new casting director on the show and that I should call ABC. I shook in my shoes at the idea, but because I did so, I was called in to meet a dynamic newcomer who would later turn producer and win an Emmy. Stacey Raider was her name and she was rightfully appalled at my headshot, which did not reflect (I’m quoting her) the extent of my prettiness. I didn’t have her eye and had been happy the established New York photographer I’d hired could make me look so grand in black and white.
Stacey didn’t need a photo of me once I walked in her door but of course I did. And through the years with her voice in my ear, I kept trying to get the right shot. At the time black and white was the thing, but I had such unexpected coloring that people often exclaimed about it when we met. There was no way that could capture my almost strawberry hair, my brown but nearly green eyes and an apricot complexion so odd I’ve only once found a shade of now retired Mary Kay foundation that came close. So I decided to defy the convention of the time and blasted the industry with a candid color postcard.
Everyone called me in.
Of course, color wasn’t the only thing that got that photo a second glance: I looked endearing. Most importantly, it looked like me. Why?
Because the photographer adored me.
My family, friends and boyfriends always have taken my best photos. Don’t get me wrong, these were photographers who were very good with faces. My father’s favorite hobby was capturing people all over the world at their most authentic. He constantly talked with famed landscape photographer Christopher Burkett, who mentored him in using Cibachrome. If you have a photographer in your life who knows you reasonably well (or is at least in love with you), you have a much better chance to get a photo which makes people give you a call. There will be something about it that people like. And once you get a good shot (I’ve had three in my life) for heaven’s sake use it for as long you reasonably can–and by that I mean a few years. A nice little side perk to all of this is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money.
The inglorious photo I took to All My Children that day didn’t stop Stacey from hiring me over and over again. I did lots of little speaking parts on the show and worked several times a month as “background”. I was hired more than once as a reader for other actors who came in to audition and eventually got to
audition for a contract role. Ultimately I nailed a nice little part in several episodes starring the celebrated actress, Juliet Mills. Guess who I played?
A role in the script described as “Sally the photographer”.