Red carpet…premieres…after parties…meeting A-list actors: These are some of the wonderful things that a child actor may experience in his or her career. Then there is the other side of the coin, the not-so-glamorous days no-one hears about (until now), and I know most parents of professional child actors have similar stories.
Our day started out great. My daughter Ashley booked an episode of the television show “30 Rock” and we were on our way to Silvercup Studios in Queens, NY, to film for the day. Traffic was fine and we were on schedule to arrive early. When I work with my girls, I usually never bring anyone to set with me, but this time I brought my step-daughter, Christina, because she loves the show. I had no idea at the time what a blessing in disguise it would be to have her with me.
Now for those of you not familiar with NYC, Silvercup Studios is thisclose to the Queensboro Bridge, which connects Queens to Manhattan. I am following my GPS and I see Silvercup Studios right near us. My GPS directs me to make a left, which I do, and that piece of driving advice puts me on the Queensboro Bridge headed away from my destination and directly towards Manhattan!
“Okay,” I tell myself, “I have half an hour to go over the bridge, turn around and take it back over to be on time.” Thirty minutes is not a very long time in rush hour traffic. As we make it over the bridge to Manhattan, I notice the lower level of the bridge is very crowded so I say to myself “Let’s take the upper level back, it has to be better than this.” As I try to get onto the upper level, I realize it’s closed for the filming of “Spiderman.” So, I head back across the bridge on the lower level, towards Queens. Traffic is so slow, literally crawling along, and I can see Silvercup Studios right in front of me, the sign mocking me. The clock is ticking and we finally make it to the studio with no time to spare. Production is in the lobby waiting for my daughter so I throw my step-daughter Christina with Ashley out of the car and tell them “Go!” My internal monolougue: “Thank God I brought Christina with me today or I’d be screwed!” Honestly, to this day, I still don’t know how to get to Silvercup Studios without getting on the bridge to Manhattan. Note to self: Figure That Out.
With Ashley and Christina safely inside the studio, I start on the new adventure of parking my car. First of all, I cannot even begin to explain how difficult it is to find parking in this area. Ever try catching a rabbit with your bare hands? I have three pet rabbits and I can attest that parking in NYC is much harder than that. There is a parking lot across from the studio, but I am told that it is full and will have to look elsewhere. I quickly realize I have a better chance of spontaneously becoming a natural blonde again than finding a parking spot. There is absolutely nothing. But wait! I spot a street with a couple of spaces open. The sign reads “No Parking 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.” It’s 10:00 a.m. “Well,” I tell myself, “there are other people parked here too, maybe it will be fine?” Famous last words.
I park my car and walk to the studio, a good 15 minutes away. I finally locate my daughters in wardrobe and everything is going well. Ashley has her fitting and then they show us to her dressing room. They call her to hair and make-up. “Is everything okay?” the sweet make-up person asks. “Yes,” I reply, “I’m just concerned that I parked my car on a street with a no parking sign.” “Here,” she hands me a piece of paper, “Write ’30 Rock Make-up’ and your cell phone number and leave it on your windshield. Hopefully they’ll call you before they do anything.” The “they” she was referring to were the police. Maybe in another universe that would have been true. But this is New York City, no one is going to call you, especially the police, when you’ve parked illegally. You would think I would know better having lived in New York my whole life and getting more than my share of parking tickets, but I’m a slow learner.
The day was a success. After some waiting, Ashley’s scene was up and she did really well. We enjoyed every moment on set and the cast and crew were amazing. I got a great picture of Christina, Ashley and Jane Krakowski, who is such an amazing actress. If Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey or Tracy Morgan happened to be there too, Christina would have been just fine with that, but alas, it was not meant to be. There’s a good chance she’ll run into one of them on the streets of New York anyway. On a side note, if you are in New York City and you see someone who you “think” is a celebrity, it’s them! Just saying.
We said our good-byes and it was time to go. We walked to the car. It is evening by this point and already dark out. As we are walking down the street where I had parked my car, I notice it’s quite empty, including my car. My car was gone! Towed away! “Oh hell” I thought to myself, “I don’t believe this!” I do the only thing I can think of – go back to the studio. I tell the security guard at the front desk my car’s been towed. “Hold on” he says, “I’ve got the impound’s phone number in my phone.” He had it as a contact! I get them on the phone, they ask for my license plate number, and I give it to them. “Yeah we got your car,” they tell me unceremoniously. I said, “I know you have my car, how do I get my car?” The security guard calls a cab for us. Next thing I know we’re headed to the impound lot in Queens to hopefully get the car back. For those of you who have never been to an impound lot, here’s a helpful hint, have a clean license. You will have the opportunity to get your car back with little pain, except for the tow cost. Thankfully my driving record was clean. Although have my share of parking tickets, I pay them on time.
A police officer is waiting to drive me to my car. He says only I can go with him! Yet another reason having Christina with us was a blessing. I was tempted to ask the officer, “What if I was here with only my younger daughter? Would you expect me to leave her here alone?” I thought it best not to tempt fate and kept quiet. I still didn’t have my car and I didn’t want to piss anyone off. Driving through the lot, I swear we drove by at least 100 cars. “Were these cars towed today?” I asked. I didn’t get an answer. Finally we get to my car. I’m handed paperwork and told to follow the police car out of the lot. Yes! I’m so close!! I get in my car and put the key in the ignition and…it doesn’t turn over. My battery is dead. “Oh for God’s sake, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
I run up to the police car and tell him what’s happened. Thankfully, he turns around and gives my car a jump. Finally, finally I am on my way! I pick up Christina and Ashley at the entrance and we’re headed home, only a mere two and a half hours after wrap.
As I said, there are many glamorous sides to this business, and hopefully all the kids and parents in this industry will have the opportunity to experience those moments. Just be prepared to encounter the other side as well, and when you do experience the “not-so-glamorous” side, have your sense of humor and checkbook handy.
Written by HMB Contributor, Caroline Gerasimovich, Hollywood Mom and momager to 3 child actors who work in film, television, commercials and print.