If you saw the movie Birdman, you may think all actors are narcissistic and way off kilter. Some are. Most aren’t. My wife, Carolyn Power professionally, knows. A Screen Actors Guild Member who’s had roles on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and NBC’s Chuck, as well as in several independent films, she attended last Sunday’s SAG Awards in Los Angeles. Her observations will surprise us non-Hollywood types.
Of course, every Hollywood gala offers its share of dazzle. This event, held at the Shrine Auditorium, lived up to expectations. Carolyn went with fellow actors Sioux Matson-Krings, Molly Brady, Matt Jain and Seema Lazar of First Take, Nancy Berwid Management. Of course, she bought a new gown and walked down the red carpet—the side reserved for guests. Nominees walk the other side where the media can approach them. The dinner was good. The after-party buffet was amazing, from Chinese food to chicken with mango and butternut squash. Not to forget an array of specialty cocktails. Attendees also loaded up on swag from lipsticks to skin creams to a cell phone charger.
All well and good, says Carolyn, but the SAG Awards are all about community and inclusivity. “This awards ceremony is unusual,” she says. Actors nominate, vote for and honor cast ensembles and individuals. Who fills the audience? Actors. “It was thrilling for our smaller community to join with the larger acting community.”
Mingling with nominees at the after-party was a highlight. Some famous actors are standoffish because they’re usually mobbed everywhere. “Understandable,” Carolyn says. Yet Steve Buscemi took a picture with Matt. Kevin Costner did the same with Molly’s husband. Newer actors making their mark were entirely accessible. Carolyn cites the women from the cast of Orange is the New Black (Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series).
Orange’s Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes—Outstanding Performance by a Female in a Comedy Series) and Gwendoline Christie (the warrior Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones) proved warm and gracious, humble and grateful. “Oh my goodness, to see how beautiful they all look since they play roles in which they’re not made to look as attractive as they really are. It’s a thrill to be able to walk up and say, ‘Your acting is so specific and so believable, and I enjoyed your performance.’” Actors all want to be appreciated.
An important lesson came from meeting these actors. “They’re people,” Carolyn notes. If she’s cast in a role with one of them, she’ll be excited but realize that “we’re all actors here.” She cites Edward Norton, who stated how grateful he was for his nomination (as an egomaniacal actor in Birdman) but also to be a working actor. “He was an actor among actors, and he honored all of us with his words.”
Carolyn also was thrilled to meet LaVerne Cox, a transgender woman in the cast of Orange is the New Black. Our son Yosi is trans (female to male), so LaVerne as an actor and a trans person means a lot to both of us. She posed for a selfie with Carolyn. “LaVerne is beautiful, kind and gracious,” Carolyn reports.
So here’s to the Hollywood the media often ignores: actors as people just like the rest of us. Only maybe with better hair.
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