Tuesday, July 20, 2010

HowTo Make It in Hollywood as a Quadriplegic Actor/Writer/Producer

As the only quadriplegic actor/writer/producer in Hollywood, the only successful one at any rate, (by successful, I mean has made money doing this and is a member of at least two of the three unions SAG and WGA, I haven't yet made it into the PGA) I consider myself an expert. Over my many years of doing this I've come up with Jim's rules of how to make it in Hollywood if you're quadriplegic.
1. Forget you're quadriplegic. Nobody cares. Everybody will expect you to do an able-bodied person's amount of work plus 10% because you're quadriplegic.
2. Remember you're quadriplegic. It is both the aspect about you that will open doors and close them. It will make people remember you as well as scare them away from you. It is your biggest asset as well as your biggest detriment. However, if you don't make it, don't you dare blame it on the fact that you're quadriplegic. Too many people have worked much too hard getting performers with disabilities opportunities in the media for you to blame your lack of success on your disability.
3. You had better be talented. Not just talented, have multiple talents. So many damn talents that they can't afford not to hire you. I'm talking a three ring circus of talents. If you don't have them, develop them. I'm not saying that a young, good-looking quadriplegic guy could never make it here with no other talent than acting. I did it. The reason I didn't go any farther for many years was because I was a one trick pony. I thought acting would do it for me. I started writing projects for myself. Told producers a zillion ideas for projects that would include me as the lead. It wasn't until I started writing projects with out me that I started getting notice. I started becoming known as a writer, I stressed the actor part of me less and less.
4. If you are quadriplegic, think twice before you bring that up on the phone. Quadriplegic can be a very scary word. Show them your talent and get them to love you before you drop the Q bomb.
5. Wherever you live, try to make a name for yourself as an actor or writer or whatever it is you aspire to be. If you are an actor, do as much community theater as possible. If you're a writer, write plays, get them produced. If you're a director, direct plays. That way when you get to town here, you will have a track record. It will help you get an agent.
6. This is the most important rule if you are a quadriplegic with dreams of making it in Hollywood. Do not become direct competition for me. I will kill you. It will look like an accident; after all, I am a writer. You may laugh and think I am teasing... There is a reason I am the only quadriplegic actor/writer/producer in town.
7. This is the other most important rule. Don't forget you're quadriplegic and try to do everything. In other words, look after your health. At times in my career, I neglected mine to get ahead, and though I did edge ahead slightly, I paid for it. Get a good doctor, and stay healthy.
8. Forget all of these rules and make your own way. Because the truth is, there are no rules in Hollywood... except of course, rule number 6.

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