I did everything ass-backwards. After University, I went out to L.A. to be a movie star. Hilarious, I know. But I was committed. I was going out there to be a working actor. I had a little money saved, about $2,000, a reliable car, and a house-sitting gig. I was pretty set, in a modest way. Like I said, I didn’t go out there to be a server. I wanted to be an actor.
When you go out to L.A. to become an actor, one of the smartest things you can do is get a commercial agent. And that’s what I did. Stew Strunk was my first agent, at RLA – Robin Levy and Associates. After sending out a bezillion headshots, I scored one, and was able to start going out on auditions. It wasn’t a theatrical agent (movies) but it was a good start.
If you do a commercial, it can definitely buy you some time. In my career, I was fortunate enough to act in 12 National Commercials, and I made great money. I did a Phillips Light Bulb commercial, I’m not bragging, just giving an example, that made me over $100,000, for 1 day of work. But that wasn’t without rejection. A lot of rejection. In the beginning, I was going out on 6-8 auditions a week, and nothing. Rejection, rejection, rejection. For 8 months I booked 1 paid gig. I was down to about $13.00 in my bank account. I remember having a mini-nervous breakdown. What am I doing? I’m a failure. I have a college education, and I’m broke. I was crying. Sobbing, really. I wasn’t embarrassed. I was at the end of my rope.
But then, at the end of that period, it happened. I booked 3 gigs in a week and a half. A music video, a short film, and a feature. I was lucky. But I payed my dues.
When people ask me about my time in L.A., I tell them, “It was the best of times, and worst of times.” I was blessed to meet thousands of people, make a few friends, and have some mind-blowing experiences. Go on YouTube and search “Stairway to Heaven Compact For Tube Playboy Mansion” and you’ll see me sneaking into the Mansion, with a couple of friends, for the Millennium party. Crazy times. I don’t regret the experiences I had, good or bad, I look back on them, without remorse. You have to go after your dreams, or you’ll be sitting around 10 years from now, wondering what if.
So why did I move back to Iowa? To summarize, there was a 6 month commercial strike, and I worked on 1 movie in the span of that time. It destroyed me – both mentally and financially. I hobbled back to Des Moines and lived with my mom and step-father until I was able to pick up the pieces.
And here I am now, 13 years later, with a wife, 2 kids, a mortgage, and a job as a bartender – at age 40. I’ve never been more fulfilled in all my life. That’s what I’m saying about doing things ass-backwards. I did the acting first, then the bartending, instead of the other way around.
And you know what? I absolutely love my job at the Mews. Yes, I’m 40, and doing a 21 year old’s job, but what else am I going to do? Take your time and get back to me on that. You can’t worry about what others think about what you do for a living. If you’re ecstatic working at McDonalds making Apple Pies, then you should do that. Customers ask me when they enter the bar, “Are you the owner?” as if I must be something more. I say, “Nope. Just the bartender.”
I’m still doing a little acting. I have an audition next week for Veridian Bank. I’m sure I’ll get it. Not! I play a 50 year old. Good one. I’m a damn senior citizen!
But I try to look on the bright side. It’s for Veridian…not Viagra. Yet.
From my heart to yours,
Clint Curtis. Bartender.