Much to my surprise, people I’ve never met have opinions about me. Some are good, some are not so good, and I do my best to take both the positive and the negative with a grain of salt. But some comments I simply find fascinating. I am curious about the larger context and why the commenter might hold that belief.
Someone referred to me as “privileged” recently.
I am privileged – I’ve had wonderful opportunities, I have a good support system and my health.
But judging by the rest of her comment, that’s not how she meant it. She meant – She is Rich So She Can’t Possibly Relate to My Regular Person Life.
I was kind of shocked by this. It’s yet another indication of how much the whole Hollywood facade has fleeced the rest of the world.
Movie stars are rich. They pull in a millions per film and are booked on shoots back-to-back.
I was not a movie star.
I was a working actor.
I guess the assumption is that all actors cruise around in their Porsches without a care in the world. I drove my beloved Toyota for more than a decade and never knew when I was going to work again. For the vast majority of my acting career, I earned less per year than a telemarketer.
I never did it for the money, but I was grateful for it, because there is a significant investment involved in getting a job. Just like in any small business, you have to spend money to make money. There were flights from my home in Canada to Los Angeles and the bills associated with living at the Burbank Holiday Inn with my mother for three months so that I could audition for projects.
There were the rare times when I worked on a big film and for that year I got a financial upgrade. But even then, my dentist still out-earned me. And unlike normal jobs, where you can assume that your pay will be fairly steady, the year after a blockbuster, my income took a sharp downward turn. And if you think the residuals should be making up for that, read this. My residual income these days is below the poverty line, which makes me very grateful that my husband and I have other sources of income.
I’m not complaining, I was thankful that I had a job that paid me at all and it was a job that I enjoyed, for the most part. I have never worried if I could afford my next meal, and that is a significant luxury in this world.
But I think this is yet another way that the tabloid culture of celebrity separates people. It makes non-actors think that all actors must be on a different playing field, where there are no concerns about when the next paycheck is coming or how the mortgage is going to get paid. Yeah, that’s not really a worry for Angelina Jolie, but most actors are not Angelina Jolie. They are working people. There are thousands of actors out there, many of whom you would recognize, who are just scraping by.
I didn’t come from a family with money. We did fine, but to use the word “privileged” to describe us would be absurd. I was privileged in that I got a jump on a retirement fund and I had a passport full of international stamps. I suppose I was privileged in that I was invited to fancy parties (that gave me panic attacks) and sometimes got recognized on the street (which also gave me panic attacks.)
But this idea that my income has ever drowned out my ability to relate to “regular people?”
That’s about as laughable as the cover of the National Enquirer.
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