Browsing in Borders, four beautiful, leggy women stop us. The tallest one, wearing skintight jeans and a long brunette ponytail, turns bright red.
She bats her perfectly mascara'd eyelashes, as if she'd been planning this moment her whole life. She then asks my boyfriend for his autograph. Her equally attractive shorter friend then busts in front of her, as if she was about to miss her chance.
Great. Models are fighting over my boyfriend. Right in between the cookbooks and self-help.
Now, I'm working actor. I've done TV movies and soap operas and commercials. I have a webisode series appearing soon. And I write for Back Stage.
But I'm dating an actor who is actually famous. I mean, he is recognized everywhere we go. And handsome. Sure, he's been in TV shows, films and commercials, but I think he is now most recognized for a national commercial campaign he's been doing. Thanks to that gig, his face is plastered on billboards from coast to coast, and he appears in commercials running every two seconds on every major network across the country. There is even a bobblehead doll of him.
So, here I am in an L.A. bookstore with my equivalent of a Jonas Brother. And while he's ogled by young women, I'm dressed in grungy sweats and a t-shirt with no makeup.
Someone screams loudly. I look behind us and a teenage girl with braces and pigtails stammers and sprints to my boyfriends' side. She's shaking and crying.
She wants an autograph, but doesn't have a pen. I move to the side and rifle through my bag as my boyfriend is quickly swallowed up by this hoard of girls/women drooling and swooning and giggling. I pull out my handy-dandy ballpoint, jump into the scrum and give it to Miss Pigtails. She gets her autograph and runs to her mom in a fit of hysteria, practically knocking down the Twilight display stand as she jolts past.
Two little boys with red fuzzy hats accompanied by their Brady Bunch parents politely ask my boyfriend to take a photograph with him. The little boys' eyes are wide and droopy as if they just woke up and have landed in heaven of all places. They can barely speak, and carry books with titles like My Little Choo-Choo Train and Mr. Dynamo Goes Shopping. The one on the right manages to tug on my boyfriend's pant leg and slurs out slowly, "Are you the guy from the commercials?" His brother rubs his eyes and says, "You are him!"
My boyfriend smiles at me while he has his photo taken with the boys.
"So what do you do?" Their mother asks me. Suddenly I find it hard to explain that I have a career in acting too. Maybe she saw the movie I did on Sci Fi Channel last year? Or that under five I did on Y&R? Uhhhhhhh...
What kind of nurse? Are there different kinds of nurses? I tried to pick the simplest sounding, admirable profession, and now I'm about to look like a big fat liar.
"I work with old people... and, and, and sick people." Out of the need to cover up my obvious lie, I add, "But I'm really a decorator, I just nurse on the side, like on weekends."
"And what a decorator she is." My boyfriend comes to the rescue but gives me a look only I would know that basically says, "Why on earth are you lying?"
He then says, "This is Alexis. My girlfriend. She has a movie coming out in March as well!" The woman's forehead crinkled in confusion.
I just told a nice mom who seemed interested that I was a decorator. I lied to a stranger because I feel like a fraud saying I'm an actress, when I'm not in anything recognizable at the moment.
That's a tricky thing isn't it? Can I say I'm an actress if I'm looking for my next job? Or do I say it only when I'm in a movie? Or can I say it if I'm working on a short film or webisodes? I wish I had the answer. I'd be a liar to not say it wouldn't I? I battle with this as I'm sure many actors do.
The first: How lucky am I? Out of all these models and famous actresses he meets, I'm the chosen one. After so many years pursuing an impossible dream, he's found success. I'm so proud. What an amazing man he is. He's a dream. I'm so lucky. I'm so happy for him, and I'm so happy to be with him.
The second: Why aren't I famous? Why aren't I in some huge movie right now? I'm talented. I studied Shakespeare at Oxford, after all! Why doesn't a swarm of people surround me when I walk into Borders? How have I not worked more? Definitely by twenty-five I thought I'd be on the cover of Vogue magazine, at least!
This is a battle for me — part happy and supportive, part jealous. (How embarrassing to admit.) I feel like throwing a blanket over my head as I write these words down on paper.
I've been asked as an actor if it's difficult to date another actor.
I just say it right away because it's true. It is difficult. It's difficult when my boyfriend has found a level of success that I haven't found yet, so being supportive unfortunately takes more work on my part.
Sometimes I wonder if I weren't in the entertainment industry how much better it might be dating someone famous. I would be 100% supportive. No jealousy at all. But the truth is I am.
So I've got to work it out, I thought. But I didn't. I continued to keep my feelings to myself.
Now, I was with my boyfriend before he was famous. So for me it's actually double weird. Why didn't we reach our goal at the same time? Why did he reach his so much sooner? I couldn't work it out in my mind.
Then, the whole drama put me in a terrible emotional rut. I'm not sure why — it just suddenly felt uncontrollable. He noticed a change, but I said nothing.
Finally, we sat down one day and just talked it out. I revealed all my insecurities to him, the ones I was so afraid to reveal. They just poured out.
He couldn't be more relaxed about the whole thing. Despite his "fame," I learned that deep down he's not that crazy about being so recognizable. It's not a perk for him.
My boyfriend is just like that, ridiculously funny and charismatic. He much prefers to be at home with his cats.
In the end, with his help, I realized I had to find my own way out of these fears. So I started working on myself. I started working on my confidence. And I started to like myself (without sounding corny).
Once that happened I found it so much easier to say, "I'm an actress." And not only believe it, but feel at ease saying it.
Now, when asked what I do for a living, I no longer feel like I'm dangling from the Golden Gate Bridge hanging on for dear life.
Oddly, this turmoil has brought us to a much deeper level. I try to understand what it's like for him to be well-known, and he tries to understand what it's like for me to be in the supportive role. (For now.)
I once heard that dating an actor is like watering a garden. Let's say my boyfriend is the plant. I am the water. My job is to support and nourish my man, and one day when I'm the plant, it will be his turn. He'll be the water.
And that's how we do it. One day at a time. With or without the screaming girls.
Alexis Peters graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood in 2004. Alexis played "Ingrid" in the SciFi Network original film Grendel. Other TV work: Days of Our Lives, and the FOX pilot Faceless. Alexis's latest film, Hammer of the Gods, will premiere on the SciFi Network in March 2009. Stage roles include Summer and Smoke and the 2004 ADA award-winning Moonchildren. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.