There’s real famous. Then there’s me.

Real famous people don’t take awkward photos like this.

It is possible to leave Hollywood.

It’s not easy.

People wrinkle their foreheads at you and ask “why?” in this tone that makes you feel like you have just announced your intention to dress yourself entirely in tinfoil. People say you’re crazy for walking away from a good career just because it wasn’t making you happy. But it can be done. You can leave the film industry and do new things and you can almost leave it all in the past. Almost.

Certain things tend to linger.

I’ve been friends with people for a while and they have no idea that I used to be an actor. They know me as I am now, a writer and a yoga teacher and a wife and a dog-mom. My acting past is simply not relevant. Usually, it will come up because I have to explain why I never graduated from high school or why I have DVDs of the movies that are still in theaters on my coffee table.

It’s not like I’m legitimately famous. It’s not like I walk into a room and I’m Jennifer Lawrence and everyone starts squealing. Occasionally, people recognize me. Often they squint at me and ask if we knew each other in high school. Or, it’s just odd.

My past creates certain challenges when making new friends – because I don’t know if they know, either from recognizing me or hearing about it from someone else. So, I don’t say anything, because saying something would be obnoxious. Why does my old job matter now? Who’s like “Oh, just so you know, 15 years ago, I worked at The Olive Garden, I hope that doesn’t make things strange now.”

So when I dance around the issue of my past, when I get flushed and nervous and look at my feet while using vague language like, “I was in Honduras once, for this…um…you know…work thing….” I look like I might be a repentant drug lord.

So, I test the waters and mumble “Oh, dunno if you know or not, I used to be an actor, so um…yeah…there’s that.” And I nervously wait for their reaction and try to come up with an excuse to check my phone.

I’ve had people get weirded out and uncomfortable, thinking this somehow makes me exotic and un-relatable because actors are apparently made of different stuff than regular folk.

I’ve had people get too excited and too comfortable and then they only want to talk about whether or not Fran Drescher really talks like that.

And then there is my all-time favorite reaction. When one of my friends found out, after months of knowing each other, she looked at me and said “Oh my God, it’s like, you’re….fake famous. That’s hilarious. Hey, hand me that yoga mat.”

She’s right. I am fake famous. I have this little bit of recognizability, but I don’t get mobbed in public or walk the red carpet anymore. I never enjoyed those things, they just sent my anxiety into overdrive. I like my life so much better now.

As it turns out, the authentic me is much happier being fake famous.

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34 Replies to “There’s real famous. Then there’s me.”

  1. Just famous enough I guess. I curious though, I mean Virginia is a lot of space to cover, but it makes me wonder if I’ve seen you somewhere around the area and just didn’t recognize you. And that was probably to your relief… 🙂 Truth is I’d probably be just as awkward.

  2. Fake famous? You made a legacy and will forever have a place in history. That’s pretty cool.

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now – I recently had a bit of a third life (if that’s what you can call it) crisis, quit my job and am steadily working towards the goal of being a writer, and I find your story very inspiring…

    1. Thank you so much. And that is awesome! Congrats on making that shift! Wishing you all the best with your new goals. Those whatever-life crisis things can be very motivating…

      1. Haha! They certainly are – my only regret is that I didn’t do it eighteen months ago… Loving your journey, I’m looking forward to further inspiration!

  3. It’s important to follow your happiness, no matter what it is. Try on this hat, try on that hat. The gift that you are is not what you bring to people, it’s that inner tickle you have for yourself that ignites the passions that fulfills your life. Being a gift to others is great, being a gift to yourself is empowerment.
    March on, brave one…

  4. You were very entertaining as an actor and it was a shame to see you leave that industry. However, I believe that your fans do respect you more because your priorities do not seem to be out of whack. Anyone who has watched you act, knows that you had/have talent. It takes a very strong person to step away and I, for one, deeply respect that choice. All the best.

  5. Fantastic post. Loved reading every word and in particular…..’fake famous.’ Does one cancel the other out? Is your friend with all her faculties?

  6. I guarantee you are happier than 90% of the actors/actresses that continue to make movies. Yes they make good money but they are constantly bombarded by social media, paparazzi, etc etc. You went on your own path to live a normal American life in Virginia and you’re doing what you love. I’m sure even an actress like Jennifer Lawrence would envy you. Good job and keep it up! 😉

  7. My father moved to Manhattan in 1939, initially to study violin at Carnegie Hall. He started studying acting, sharing a room with a destitute Kirk Douglas and dating a young woman named Betty who would later change her name to Lauren but keep her last name Bacall. Over time he did stage work with everyone from from Eva Gabor through Claude Raines to Mae West (he old me she was the most professional person he ever worked with and was a real joy). He did early television, including playing opposite Boris Karloff in Karloff’s old television series. Dad had to play a shirtless pirate. They used butter to make his skin look oily on live television and he said in the hot lights he started to cook. He was also a high school English teacher for over 30 years, just turned 94 and he and my mother are half way through their 62nd year of marriage, father of 5, grandfather of 12, and great-grandfather of 2. When I was a kid I wondered why he walked away from it all. He was, like you, “fake famous” for a season. He told me he was never happier than when surrounded by his family. Honestly I think it’s cool to be able to communicate with someone I remember from movies; I’m also happy for you that you’ve found your place in the world. Fame isn’t everything. In fact, it’s hardly anything at all.

  8. Once again you have brightened up my day. I think you’ll be fine, people will accept you as you are or they won’t. Oh by the way, I worked in the dietary department of the Altoona Hospital 21 years ago! Hope things don’t get weird! Love the post!

    1. I just did a radio interview for a station in Altoona and decided it is one of my favorite words. So things are definitely not going to get weird. 🙂

  9. It must be strange to never fully know when you meet someone for the first time if they recognise you or not! Are they being polite, or do they genuinely not know hehe! Must be quite strange 🙂 Great post!

  10. You are a very talented and gifted writer, and I am thrilled you are sharing those gifts. I am even more thrilled that you are happy now. I think it is both strange and tragic how we view and treat those in the entertainment industry. It seems like a very difficult industry in which to find happiness. People running after you, taking pictures because of your “fame”. Pathetic. I am proud of you for your past accomplishments and you should be as well, I’m sorry it is not comfortable for you to talk about it, very understandable. I am also proud of you for reinventing yourself and finding your bliss. Very brave. I wish you all the best.

  11. oh my gosh! I just clicked on your blog and realized that you were the daughter from mrs doubt fire…one of my favorite movies as a child and you follow me on wordpress (as i am a very new blogger this makes me solo happy) love your history and that you have now found your passion in writing and blogging …. one of my favorite movies… so honored to read your blog now, too!!

  12. I really admire your choice to leave that life (Hollywood, acting). Most people wouldn’t have the strength, or moral fortitude to do so. It speaks volumes about your character. Those that can’t eventually fall into the bottomless abyss. It is great to see people stand up for what they believe is right , at any cost ! Thanks for your honesty, and integrity ! May God bless you , and your family , in all that you do.
    By the way , Just watched mrs doubt fire again , And you really were a natural , at acting. ( just saying ).
    God bless. Gary G.

  13. I hope you don’t think this is weird but after reading this post I searched you up on Google and I totallyyy remember you from my childhood moviess xD and I think you’re a really good writer :p

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