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My LA story, Posts

Can you get scouted by surfing in Malibu?

It’s a fair question isn’t it? Can you get scouted just by surfing in Malibu? After all it is LA and you hear stories like that all the time. How did you start modelling? Well I was shopping and a talent scout handed me her card and told me to come into their agency.

But surfing in Malibu? Can you get scouted doing what you love to do?

Apparently that answer is yes for two guys we met last week.  They were on set when my daughter filmed her first commercial. It’s not out yet so I can’t say too much–except of course that it’s very exciting!

Living the Dream

It’s all very exciting securing a commercial but it’s a whole ‘nother thing getting to Set. It’s quite daunting when you’re the youngest there and you’ve never done this before.

That is until you find out it’s also the first time for your two co-stars who happened to be scouted while surfing in Malibu. Don’t get me wrong, they still had to read some lines and answer some questions, it’s just that their audition was on the beach. In one case it he went up to get his car and came back to get his mate. That’s when they asked him if he’d be interested in being in a commercial. He was still reeling at the fact that he offered to get the car and pick up his mate. If he hadn’t have done that he would not be in “the right place at the right time.”

Immediately the fog lifted from the actor’s holding area as everyone compared notes about how they got to be, sitting there about to go into hair & make-up and shoot by the beach in Malibu!

It was so refreshing to sit there in LA and hear from these guys about how grateful they are to be there and how happy they are to be living the dream.  It was like one of my “never-in-my-wildest-dreams” moments  Zero pretension and attitude.

Ron E Laybacks

You know you walk into a room or a place and you look at someone and you pass judgement on them–positive, negative or neutral–you come to some conclusions about who they are and what they are. Location (a commercial shoot) has some bearing on it as well as their general attitude.

We walked in and Ron E Laybacks was laidback, confident and happy. He was a natural conversationalist and everyone around him was listening and engaging with him.

Quietly I filled in the forms for Miss 16 while she got her schoolwork out and started work. We listened in trying not to seem like we were listening but the general banter was on commercial work.

It could have been safe to assume that Ron E has been doing this shit for years–no trepidation,  his body language was all confident and, while there’s not the slightest bit of pretension about him, there was not the slightest bit of self-doubt either. None of the “where-do-I-go” hesitation my daughter and I were wondering about.

One by one the talent would go to hair and make-up until finally it was me and Ron E. I introduced myself and he to me. My accent gives him a new conversation point: “I was in Australia a few years back surfing. Spent two months surfing in Ulladulla and Mollymook.”

“Oh cool,” I said, “we have a house not far from there in Jervis Bay.”

Surfing Australia

It turns out Ron E got his hands on a $299 Virgin flight so he thought he’d go visit a friend who was there for a year. He packed himself up and together with his surfboard headed for Australia. He got himself a job on a Roadworks sign directing the traffic and he was able to do this while “living the dream” surfing.

We talked about meat pies, the best surfing spots and the laid-back “charmed” Australian life.

Back in the US

Then all conversation turned to the day’s shoot. Where else in the world can you be surfing in Malibu and someone comes up to you and asks you if you’re interested in filming a commercial?  “We’re living the dream,” he yelled for everyone.

It’s contagious.

Better still for Miss 16 she was immediately less anxious and enjoying the moment. Ron E and her “co-star”, Matt, were such sweet breaths of fresh air.

Action!

The shoot seemed to go by so quickly. People were lingering trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on and taking photos of the “stars” shooting this commercial. A number of takes, re-starts, changing things up and their bit was done.  Following this was a long series of still photos taken by the Director (a renowned feature film and Commercial Director) and another photographer and they were a wrap.  Time for craft services!

On location for a fun day shooting a commercial

Stay true to yourself

Before they wrapped there were many photos taken of Miss 16. “Mum/Mom it’s clear who the star is in this shoot,” the boys said to me.  They were genuinely so pleased for her and were still reeling in the fact that they were on a commercial shoot living the dream.

As Miss 16 finished up there were High-fives all around.  The boys repeated their words to Miss 16 about being their rock star. “Awww,” she said loving hanging out with these guys.

Then they hit her with the best advice they could: “Be true to yourself, remember this, remember us. You’re going to be famous but don’t change.”

Matt, her cute co-star said, “I’ve seen too many lovely people change who they are and are just no longer nice, don’t let that happen to you.”

They then turned to me and made me promise I wouldn’t let that happen.

I promised there are too many people around her that would definitely NOT let that happen!

It all depends where you live in LA

LA is like 20 small cities stacked next to each other–they’re all so so different. You can literally walk a few blocks into the next city and it will be night and day from the one you came from. It’s possible to find your peeps in LA, you just need to find the right area.

It’s also possible to find good eggs everywhere throughout LA. We’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing, kind, warm, fun people. Probably the thing all these people have in common is that they’re all true to themselves. And they don’t take themselves too seriously either. A great combination.

So thank you Ron E Laybacks.  And Matt. What a pleasure it was hanging out with you for the day “living the dream”, soaking it all in, not taking ourselves too seriously and just having fun.  I hope that attitude comes out in the final product.

Thanks for the great influence you had over my daughter in such a short time. She’s truly blessed and I hope she remembers it for many years to come.

And if they don’t get cut out, and they manage to get some airplay I’ll share the ad with you.

xx It Started in LA xx

My LA story, Posts

Our first US summer has come to an end

That’s right, sadly our first US summer has come to an end.  I know many people that would be jumping for joy at the thought of their kids back to school and out of their hair.  Not yours truly.

I love the lack of routine school brings: sleeping in, not having to worry about getting home in time for school pick-up–or even being at school to pick up; no car pool queues and no worrying about what to pack for lunch.

But alas like all good things in life they must come to an end.  And there is always an upside:  I’ve missed you!  I’ve missed my Blogs and have so much to tell you it feels like I haven’t caught up with my best friend for ages.  (Which is true too).

Where do I start? Let me start by telling you that summer was great.  We had one of our good friends come at the start of summer and that meant showing them around the LA we know and love and a couple of roadtrips.  It was with them we conquered Yosemite and then drove to Vegas via Mammoth and Death Valley.  It seems like a lifetime ago.

The day after they left my mum and brother came and five days after they left my in-laws came.  In between we had a great visit from fellow Blogger UK Desperate Housewife of USA.  And that my friends is summer done and dusted.  We estimate five or so days with just ourselves for the whole nearly three months.  No wonder I’ve neglected you and I am exhausted!

There were so many highlights it actually feels like a bragfest if I go through them all with you.  But what that makes me realise, once again, is how bloody lucky we are to be living here doing the sorts of things we’re doing.

Which brings me to how this Blog was born.  You know when you read someone famous talk about the struggle to make it big and you sit back and think, “wow, did you what? Good for you. How did you manage to achieve that?” And it’s hard to imagine them as everyday normal people.

OK, not that I’m saying I’m all over the mags and hugely successful by any stretch but I wonder if I’ve conveyed to you that just over 12 months ago I was a normal, happy person getting up at 5am many mornings a week to take my son swimming then go for a run myself before I had to go back home to help my daughter get ready to take her to the bus to start her day.  Then work or go to the gym, grocery shop, manage the soccer and waterpolo teams and be ready for the kids to come home and do their afternoon activities, dinner etc. Blissfully happy as you can only be when you live in Australia unaware (fundamentally) that there are normal people living similar lives to me in Beverly Hills 90210.

Until my hubby got a call about moving there.

So of course we are constantly pinching ourselves and wanting to share a glimpse into how life can suddenly change for an unsuspecting Aussie family like us.  I’ve had nothing but great support for my blog but I do wonder if people realise that we weren’t “destined” for this life nor were we looking for it per se; it just happened.  Apart from the usual teenage stuff neither of our goals were to make it big in Hollywood–or make a go of it here.  Such is the wonder of life sometimes.  That’s what makes our story so cool.

So … apart from a few travel stories over the coming weeks I’ll share with you tidbits from our summer (told in the spirit of this Blog) in LA including :

  • Heading to our first Bar Mitzvah–90210 style
  • Mr H & I at the Creative Emmys
  • The kids and I at the Teen Choice Awards
  • Brushes with fame out and about in LA.

What’s on this week?

With the kids reluctantly packed up to school for another year and having the house to ourselves again it’s obviously time to focus on It Started in LA.  Aside from that I have a mountain (and I mean mountain) of ironing.

(I don’t mind ironing because I have a system: I record my favourite shows–and with M-Go or Netflix I don’t even need that–and I watch them while I iron.  It passes the time nicely and I have a great excuse for watching TV.  High on my list, if you’re interested, are Orange is the New Black and Scandalwhich we saw being shot when we first arrived in LA and had no idea how big it or the stars were.  I’ve since added Sons of Anarchywhich is tough because it’s up to season bazillion), Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad so it’s just as well I have a mountain of ironing.  Wait, did I mention Mad Men and House Of Cards? No? You get the picture).

Plus I want to get out and meet more people to start my new series, “Profiles” and trying to get on set to get a taste for that aspect of LA life. And of course I need to start planning our next holiday.  Busy huh?

Birthday parties 90210 style

In the meantime I’m party planner for my daughter’s up-and-coming 12th birthday party.  It’s been an eternity (according to her) since she’s had a party and she’s picked this year and turning 12 to have one.

Sigh for me.  And Mr H.  I’m sure it would be the same in Australia but pin the tail on the donkey, bringing in a clown or even an at-home dance party don’t seem to cut it anymore.

What do you do for a girl who is practically last in her class to have a party and everyone else has pulled out the big-gun ideas?  With a lot of tossing up and negotiation we decided on a screening of the movie The Giver (a book my daughter and her class studied last year that I also read and loved) at Mr H’s state-of-the-art “Viewing Rooms” at his sound stage on one of the studio lots.

Sounds flash huh?  I thought so but there was a little skeptical worry that everyone has access to such an amazing opportunity that it wouldn’t be special.  Lucky she realised that living here does not necessarily mean everyone has access to it and we’re on.  We’re all on board and I have to deliver a party that’s 2040 with a twist of 90210 and a Hollywood chaser.

Three key differences between parties 90210 style and 2040 style:

  1. The key difference that’s highly evident is that there are no lolly bags.  That could be a good thing I hear you say except they are replaced with a more upmarket version and called a “party favour”.  Party favours can be anything from a gift card to your favourite store (with the 2040 present budget) to a kit filled with fabulous goodies also equal to or greater than the 2040 present budget (or maybe I was just a little on the scroogey side?).
  2. We’ve upped the anti.  That’s not to say it’s not happening at home but I don’t think it’s happening across the board.  While all very gorgeous some of the parties my daughter has been to include lunching at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, High Tea at Le Montage, a private nails party at a nail salon, dinner and pool parties with ice-cream vans and all the bells and whistles required to keep some 20 girls amused for a few hours.
  3. Catering.  There is no sign of party pies and sausage rolls nor of fairy bread and for that I think we should all have a minute’s silence.  No sign of lolly bags either but we’re changing that with a “candy station” to get us through the movie.

From my son’s perspective there were hardly any parties this year giving way for more intimate affairs with a couple of mates over.  Except one girl who had a massive party at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel–booked out for Saturday night.  That one was quite the affair!

I’ve changed my thinking a little from when we first came.  While I’m not changing who we are or what we believe in I am accommodating things 90210 style.  A wise person (my mum) told me over the holidays that I shouldn’t make the kids stand out as being totally different to everyone else just because I want to stick to how we do things at home.  Her view was that (especially as you get into the teenage years) it’s good to be a bit under the radar and kids don’t particularly like to stand out as being especially different.  That’s not unlike what one of my school friends told me (reminded me of) when she came to visit earlier this year either.  So I’ve wiggled.

I think it’s good advice and I’ll continue to monitor how it means we navigate life 90210 style.

Enjoy the start of Spring Southern Hemispherers while we adjust to Autum (sorry Fall) here.  Thankfully LA’s weather doesn’t really change very much so the forecast is for sunshine and sunshine followed by sunshine.

xx It Started in LA xx

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