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Advice

What Was the First Acting Job You Booked in Hollywood?

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"My first acting job in Hollywood was on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I was part of a cult whose members committed suicide. This booking allowed me to get my SAG card. I had booked other roles outside L.A. but had been working toward my SAG card for a long time. Overcoming this hurdle finally was an amazing feeling! I worked on the show for five days, and it was right next to Universal Studios, right near where they were filming Pirates of the Caribbean. This was also a major accomplishment in my book. It was an amazing first Hollywood experience."

Jacqui Allen, Los Angeles

"My first L.A. acting job was in a music video—as one of the 'cute girls,' thank you very much—for teen British pop star Li'l Chris. It had an '80s theme and was one of the most fun shoots! My costume was a zebra-striped leotard with denim acid-wash cutoffs and white cowboy boots. I had rad Kelly Kapowski hair—teased bangs reinforced with tons of Aqua Net. Best of all, I worked closely with director Brett Simon, who is now directing features. I still get MySpace fan messages from tween British girls obsessed with Li'l Chris."

Kelsey Higgs, Studio City, Calif.

"I'd been in Hollywood for a short time. I had no agent, was busting my butt at a bar on Sunset, and was perpetually lost. I received an audition after submitting myself for a Fox pilot called Beyond, produced by Brian Grazer. I didn't think I'd make it to work on time, so I decided to cancel. The rent came first. But my girlfriend (now my wife) reminded me why we moved here, so I went. I was Taft-Hartleyed and worked in beautiful Utah with some of the coolest people. Incidentally, I made it to work on time. I love L.A.!"

Ian Tran, Los Angeles



"As I left my apartment, my neighbor quickly asked me if I could work on a short film for a 48-hour film festival. My first gig and I didn't even have to audition! The lead actress had dropped out and, thankfully, I was there to save the day. It was a long day of guerrilla-style shooting, and I felt like a scared animal myself. The day ended with me receiving amateur footage and a pair of designer gloves from the warehouse we had filmed in. I just experienced my first love affair with acting, and I was hooked."

Sullivan Kiley, Los Feliz, Calif.

"The first job I booked was for a UPN pilot called Extra Sauce. I'd been doing a play (booked after reading Back Stage West!) and was fortunate enough to get a call telling me I'd been requested by someone who'd seen it. After years of waiting for the 'shot,' when it finally arrived, I learned firsthand that Hollywood isn't like it is on TV. It's often long hours of waiting. But when my scene arrived (late in the taping) and the place exploded in laughter, it was everything I imagined and more. Thanks, Back Stage; you guys played a role in that."

Cutter Garcia, Hollywood, Calif.

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