A black and white headshot from my short-lived child acting career is perched in a corner of the wooden frame that holds up the mirror in my room. I was about 7 or 8 when I got an agent and started going on auditions, but I first got in front of a camera about a year before that for a Kennedy Krieger sponsored inspiration porn* infomercial called, “The Power of Caring.” While the crew was setting up cameras in my living room, I went over to one of them and asked, “So, where’s my script?” The guy who was setting up the boom mic smiled and said, “It’s your house, you can say anything you want to.” I think the only time I spoke in the whole segment was when I counted to six while doing my exercises, but I was hooked on being in front of the camera. I did a promotional spot a year later for the Associated Jewish Charities and then met with DC area talent agent Linda Townsend. This was about the time that I figured out that Power Ranger wasn’t a real job, but actor was. If I could be an actor, maybe I could play a Power Ranger one day. I went to a few child acting workshops at Linda’s office and met kids who’d been flying out to L.A. for pilot season since they were 4. The terms SAG, Stage parents, and audition swirled around in my head for a while before I really understood them. I was terrified of my parents becoming stage parents. I’d heard horror stories about child actors, so as much as I enjoyed acting, I’d throw auditions and not memorize my lines because I didn’t want to succeed and have my parents control my career. It’s hard to look at that headshot now, because I feel like I left something important behind. After watching hours of interviews with the original cast of Power Rangers; being tripped out that I’m about the same age as they were when they got the roles, and being an extra on the set of my friend’s student film in Austin, Texas, I started to reminisce to myself about acting. When you’re eight and you get fifty bucks for being an extra on The Wire, you feel rich enough to splurge at Toys R US. Coming back to it now, I could work with cool people like the ones I met in Austin, write screenplays for my own short films, and maybe make a little bit of extra cash from time to time. Count me in, I’m acting again. It’s a shame black and white headshots aren’t in anymore and I don’t still look like this, I have a ton of these.
*”Inspiration porn” isn’t actually porn, it’s any piece of media that casts the day-to-day experience of being disabled as an extraordinary feat of the human spirit that’s beyond the reach of the able-bodied majority. See: “The only disability is a bad attitude” posters
P.S. Knowing what I know now about Power Rangers, I wouldn’t want to work on that show. The allegedly homophobic environment that drove David Yost, who played the original Blue Ranger, to leave the show and the staunch anti-union position of the producers who kicked Austin St. John, Walter Jones, and Thuy Trang (RIP) the original Red, Black, and Yellow Rangers respectively, out of the most lucrative and recognizable roles of their careers, doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to be a part of. Who knows, maybe things have changed.