I never imagined that in my seventies I would be chasing down auditions, and following a dream I'd put on the back burner for most of my life.
As a child, I always wanted to become an actress. Little did I know that this would eventually include a role in an Oscar-nominated film.
Like many of us, I needed to make a living. I worked very hard at the same job for 23 years. But when I retired, I thought it was time to make a change... a big one.
I also knew that I didn't need to simply change my path. I needed to bulldoze a new one, and take myself on a journey to fulfill that childhood dream.
And that's exactly what I did.
I started auditioning for every role I could get my hands on, and eventually landed the role that ultimately changed my life. This was the role of Peg Nagy in the film "Nebraska."
People are always asking me how I got the audition that changed my life and this is what I tell them.
When my agent first informed me of the audition it was for an undisclosed role in an unknown movie. I didn't know what to expect, but I had set myself on this journey, and every opportunity was a good opportunity in my eyes.
The audition was in Santa Monica. When I arrived, it was in a small room, with no sign or any information. I sat down, practiced my lines and eagerly awaited my turn. All of the women at the audition read the same exact part, the character of Kate. I didn't have any idea what movie it was for, but I didn't care. I was thrilled to be there.
After some time passed, they called my name. I stood up, walked down the small corridor into the audition room and read my lines. After I was done, I thought to myself, "Well, I'm not likely to get cast as Kate, but I gave it my best." Then, the casting director thanked me for my time, and sent me on my way.
I headed home and thought that rejection was something I would need to get used to in this business, and never really expected to hear from them again.
The Audition -- Take Two:
Six months passed and I received a call from that very audition. They wanted me to come back again and read for a second time, and this time they revealed that I was auditioning for the movie "Nebraska."
The second audition took place at Paramount studios and was much different from the first. This time I drove onto the lot and received a pass to go to one of the buildings.
Once I arrived, the casting director had me read for two different parts. He was very pleasant and said he would send my audition immediately to the director in Omaha.
As positive as the casting director sounded, a well-known actress whose work I admired had auditioned right before I did, and I was sure she would get the part of Peg Nagy. I wasn't surprised when six months passed before I heard any news.
Finally, I received a call from the actual film director, Alexander Payne, who wanted to meet me in person. We decided to meet at my sister-in-law's home in Los Angeles, since I was still living in Whittier at the time. I was expecting to be told that he liked my work, and that he would consider me for a future project, as we never really spoke of the movie.
Just before he left, he offered me the part of Peg Nagy. He told me that he didn't want to give such an important part to a person he had never met before.
And that was it. After almost a year had passed from my very first audition, I was Peg Nagy and I was thrilled.
I never imagined at the time that "Nebraska" would turn into such a huge success.
After the excitement of the "Nebraska" premiere in Cannes and the opening in Los Angeles at the AFI Film Festival, I felt I was a "real" actress and should start living like one.
That's when I discovered the NoHo Senior Arts Colony Apartments. It was just the sort of intimate, creative, artsy community I needed to continue progressing in my acting career.
It is here that I have been able to further delve into my acting career. For the first time in a long time, I am actively engaged and passionate about something I had longed for most of my life.
I am proud to say that in my seventies I was a part of an Oscar-nominated film, and all because I never gave up on my dreams.
Even when the odds were against me, I kept going. It just goes to show that at any age, if you put your mind to something, you can accomplish anything.