SAG-Nominated Actors Reflect on Life Before Fame — And Breaking Into the Business
"I made a PowerPoint presentation for my parents when I was 14. I asked them to let me move to L.A. [It was] all about why I should be an actor. I never wanted to do anything else, from 7 on. It wasn't a flight of fancy. I asked to be home-schooled in a different presentation when I was 12. That was on a clipboard. I'm not kidding. I make presentations because when I feel strongly about something, I cry."
— to the New York Times on convincing her parents to let her act.
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"I kind of got antsy and was like, 'Gosh I wish I had something, like a great character like I had in Australia when I was young and when I was, like, 15. And then To Die For came along. But no one thought I could do it and I think the studio didn't want me and it sort of went through another bunch of actors. [I called director Gus Van Sant and] I said, 'Please, give me the chance. I beg you.' Because the writing was so strong."
— to news.com.au, on fighting for a shot in To Die For, one of her earlier films
"That really is our plight, especially as women of color. You can have all the training in the world, come from a respectable background and yet never get that big opportunity that breaks you out—never. I am doing this out of necessity. If I am not the instrument of change, I can meander through this business and be the black woman who always has two or three scenes but with fabulous actors around me."
— to the Los Angeles Times, on the difficulty of breaking into the industry as a woman of color
"I loved films, and my fantasies were filled with dancing and singing, but Hollywood was not on my radar as a child. I worked very hard. But honestly, I didn't know what I was going to be. I have always let the wind take me wherever it will."
— to the Daily Mail, on how she didn't always dream of acting.
"That was just when I was starting out. So I thought, 'Narnia, oh my God, I love Narnia!' I really wanted to play—this is so silly— the Prince Caspian film. Ben Barnes ultimately got it. I really just wanted that part. I think the feedback was: he's not handsome enough. What can you do? Hey, I'm not handsome enough for Prince Caspian."
— to Entertainment Tonight, on missed opportunities.
"Every now and again, they'd do a local weather commercial or a movie would come to town and they would need extras. And so me and my friends and - we would — you know, she'd bring us in and we'd get a day off from school and we'd get to be an extra in a movie, which to us meant nothing more than a day off from school. And at the end of the day, they gave you 20 bucks and then your mom took 15 of it and put it away and you got $5. And that was it. That was a real treat."
— to NPR, on the early perks of acting.
"Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull, and everyone thought I was a horrible actress. I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike [Nichols] wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, 'Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.' And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis."
— to New York magazine, on second chances.
"I was always in plays, but I thought it was vain to be an actress. Plus, I thought I was too ugly to be an actress. Glasses weren't fabulous then."
— to students at Indiana University, on doubting herself in her early days
"It was kind of depressing because when I got [to Florida], they realized that I wasn't really up to snuff in comparison with what some of the other kids were able to do. I remember one time they put four of us in a dance routine, but I was so off. I was on the end, so they just pushed the shot in closer on the other three guys to frame me out."
— to Interview magazine, on his early days on The Mickey Mouse Club
"[Jessica Lange] had just gotten into town to start doing season 1 of American Horror Story, and L.A. is not really her town. She didn't know a ton of people so we were spending a lot of time together. At one point, Jessica just threw her arm around me and said to Ryan, 'Oh, can't you find something for Sarah to do on the show? She's going to be in town now.' And he said, 'Oh. Yeah. I think I could do that.'"
— to PEOPLE, on her career-changing meeting with Ryan Murphy
STERLING K. BROWN
"Any time I was doing a play at school, my grades got better because my soul was being fed. I thought it was about money. It's not. It's about the soul. I was young enough when I realized it, and I also mean naïve enough, to say, This is what I'm supposed to do. I see my friends and family who have a passion or a dream but it's now a dream deferred because they were never naïve enough or brazen enough to say, Let me do this. The longer you go and the more practical you become and the more responsibilities you accrue, the more it will cost you to make that shift and you see the light slowly extinguish. I'm glad that didn't happen for me."
— to Vulture, on going after your dreams.
"I didn't feel entitled to become a star. I didn't expect it. The things you want professionally are opportunities. And through my good fortune that's what's happened. Opportunity has come to me."
— to CBS News, on opportunity and luck.
"My first time on television was an ABC Afterschool Special entitled 'My Special Angel.' And I had to join SAG for that. I was in a supporting role as a cheerleader friend. It's crazy to believe that people grow up to be sensible human beings without watching afterschool specials."
— to Jimmy Kimmel, on the job that got her a SAG card.