Wednesday, January 9, 2013

On Filling My Heart With Wonder


Dear Mackenzie,

One of the many wonderful things about being your father is that I get to experience the world anew through your eyes.  

As a child I never went to Disneyland.  By the time I first visited the park I was already in my mid twenties.  It was a lot of fun and pretty amazing, to be sure.  In fact, some of the nuance of Walt Disney’s magnificent creation is probably better appreciated as an adult.

Yet I missed was the chance to take in the marvel of Disneyland through a child’s innocent eyes.  Then I started going there with you, and I saw Disneyland in a new and wondrous way.  

I’m having a similar experience right now, though not at Disneyland.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards happen every year around the last week of January.  This year ‘s ceremony will take place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles just a few weeks from now, on January 27th.

The Academy Awards. The Emmys. The Golden Globes. Rarified air if you work in the entertainment industry. What could be more fulfilling, or better for your career, than hearing your name called after the words “and the Oscar goes to”?  I can’t even imagine.  And yet over the years, many actors who have won those particular statuettes have told me that by far, the most humbling award an actor can receive is a SAG Award. 

The SAG Awards are significant to an actor because it’s your fellow actors who fill out the ballots.  Artisans who practice the same craft you do are acknowledging the excellence of your performance in a given film or television series. It’s the ultimate validation.

Very early on the morning of December 12th, 2012, the SAG Award nominees were announced by Taye Diggs, an actor on a television series called “Private Practice” and Busy Phillips (what a great name) who is on a series called “Cougar Town”.  There was nothing out of the ordinary about the presentation or about the way those two individuals announced the nominations. Yet they will be forever etched in my mind. Why?

Because when Busy and Taye announced the nominees for “Outstanding performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Comedy Series”, this was one of the nominated casts, in alphabetical order:

NURSE JACKIE (Showtime)
MACKENZIE ALADJEM / Fiona Peyton
EVE BEST / Dr. Ellie O’Hara
BOBBY CANNAVALE / Dr. Mike Cruz
JAKE CANNAVALE / Charlie Cruz
PETER FACINELLI / Dr. Fitch Cooper
EDIE FALCO / Jackie Peyton
DOMINIC FUMUSA / Kevin Peyton
ARJUN GUPTA / Sam
LENNY JACOBSON / Lenny
RUBY JERINS / Grace Peyton
PAUL SCHULZE / Eddie Walzer
ANNA DEAVERE SMITH / Gloria Akalitus
STEPHEN WALLEM / Thor Lundgren
MERRITT WEVER / Zoey Barkow
At the ripe old age of eleven you, my sweet daughter, are nominated for a SAG Award!

I’ve attended every conceivable awards ceremony in my career.  Over time I’ve had many clients nominated for various awards, and quite a few of them have won. I’ve been thanked for my efforts on national television.  I’ve ridden in the limos, hung out at the parties, and done more than my share of hobnobbing with the rich and famous.

Now I grant you I was never the one nominated, but just the same it’s heady stuff.  Yet I’m not sure I ever truly savored the experiences like I could or should have.  On the contrary, I was usually lost in the demands of the moment. Did I introduce this actor to that director?  Did John Doe spend enough time on the red carpet?  Did Jill Doe make it out of the green room on time? Mostly it was just another day at the office, and a stressful one at that.

You being nominated has made me look at it all from a whole new perspective.

I envision that over the next few weeks you'll have the time of your life. You’ve been invited to glamorous gifting suites that will make Christmas look like a dress rehearsal. You’ll attend the Entertainment Weekly Nominees party at the famous Chateau Marmont Hotel, where you’ll hobnob with stars, with producers and directors, and with studio and network executives. Do eleven year olds hobnob?

Your mom will buy you an expensive new dress to wear to the ceremony.  A professional stylist will make sure your hair and makeup look perfect on the day of the event. Showtime will send a car service to drive you to the ceremony and the glamorous after-party. It’s as close to living the fairy tale as a young girl of any age could ever dream of.  

And I am the proudest of poppas. My heart is filled with an innocent
wonder that I thought was no longer possible for this old lion. I’ll share with you the two pieces of advice I’ve given every client who ever found him or herself at this crossroad.

First, remember that the honor is in the nomination and that honor is yours for the rest of your life. Winning is frosting on the cake.  I believe this to be true with all my heart.  So have my clients, unless they won. Then they told me my advice was silly. At least until the next time they were nominated.

And second, savor the moment. You may be nominated ten more times in your career or never again.  Bask in the glow of the paparazzi flashbulbs as you arrive on the red carpet.  Be amazed at the people who are sitting next to you, and at the incredible company you’re keeping.  Enjoy the pit in your stomach as your category is called.  Be humble if you win and keep your head up if you don’t.  Either way it’s all over much too quickly.

I will be rooting for you and “Nurse Jackie to win, of course. More importantly I’ll be experiencing my first awards show through your eyes, and marveling at how fun it is.

All my everlasting love,

Dad


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