This is a rather unusual column, Sweet Spirits. I’m going to answer the concerns of so many young men and women who have written to me, sent photos, or come up to me after I’ve done a lecture or television appearance, over the years.
They all say a variation of the same thing: “Am I good-looking enough to be an actor/actress?” So often, when I’m doing a book signing or personal appearance, the person behind the one asking the question will say, “That was my question, too!”
I’m so pleased to answer the question in this column. Not everyone in show business looks like George Clooney or Penélope Cruz. Age and appearance have nothing to do with acting ability.
When you see a film or television show and there’s a family scene with a mother, father, sister, brother, etc., naturally the mother is going to look older than the daughter—but she’s still an actress. Ladies, if you’re 70-years-old, you can still play a grandmother. If you’re 50-years-old, you can play that woman’s daughter, or a mother yourself. Looks have absolutely nothing to do with the talent required to be an actor or actress. True, they may, momentarily, get you noticed but if you can’t deliver the talent, the attention you receive will be short-lived.
Play the part, be the part, live the part… and you’re already an actor/actress. I have been thinking about the mother of a close friend of mine, who passed away recently at the age of 95. She really wanted to be an actress. I told her so many times she’d be a wonderful character actress but I don’t know that she believed me, or rather, believed in herself. So, to answer the hundreds of letters I’ve received, just since doing this column, I take this opportunity to say: “Go for it! You won’t be happy unless you’ve tried.”
I think that we have, without the shadow of a doubt, one name that is synonymous with acting greatness and she’s played all ages of characters. That woman is Meryl Streep.
One other actress who was both glamorous and could also play an older woman was Academy Award®-winning actress Joan Crawford. When I had my mansionette in San Francisco on Pacific Heights, many people from young to middle-age and older came to me for private readings. They’d tell me they could see themselves on the silver screen.
One person who came was already well-established on the screen, and that was Ms. Crawford. As she was leaving after her reading, I kissed her on both cheeks and said, “You’re a beautiful woman, Ms. Crawford.” She said, “Never call me that. I’m a handsome woman and that’s why I get so many roles!”
Another fine actress who came to me had a great deal of turmoil in her personal life. Ingrid Bergman had gone into exile following her love affair (behind her husband’s back) with director Roberto Rossellini. When she returned to the United States, she was appearing in a play in San Francisco and came to me for a reading.
Afterwards, I said, “Ingrid, what advice would you give women all over the world?” She said, remembering the Rossellini incident, “I’d tell them to have good health and a damn poor memory.”
Please remember that this woman, who was a star in every sense, played the aged Golda Meir (a truly admirable woman but not a glamorous one) at one point in her career.
To mention a current-day performer who took a risk by playing against his type and not caring about “glamour,” action star Hugh Jackman, perhaps best known for playing Wolverine in the “X-Men” films, appeared to great acclaim on Broadway in “The Boy from Oz” musical. He portrayed composer/performer Peter Allen, an openly gay man.
I had the pleasure of seeing Hugh in the production. He was positively amazing and I definitely saw Peter Allen, whom I’d done several television shows with, onstage with Hugh, in spirit. Many of you may remember that Peter Allen had been married at one time to entertainer Liza Minnelli. I’d given Peter many psychic messages when we were both guests on television shows and can definitely say that Hugh’s portrayal was uncanny.
Though I’d had no intention of going backstage to see him afterwards, since I didn’t know him and knew he must be exhausted from his tour de force performance, I felt compelled to the stage door, anyway.
There were about 300-400 fans, mostly women, there ahead of me! Several guards were protecting the stage door, in addition to the stage door manager. I told him I’d been Peter Allen’s psychic and wanted to relay a message to Hugh Jackman. He said, “I know who you are… but I don’t care. No one sees Mr. Jackman following a performance!”
I gave him my card and asked him to relay the message that I had a message from Mr. Allen. “I’ll do it,” he said gruffly, “but you won’t see Mr. Jackman.” I waited briefly and then started to walk away when I heard “Kenny Kingston, come back here! Mr. Jackman wants to talk to you!”
Hugh and I had a wonderful talk. I told him about seeing Peter Allen onstage and he told me that he felt his presence many nights during the production. I gave him several psychic messages and concluded by saying that he’d win the Tony Award for his performance, and go on to host the Tonys, all of which seemed to please him greatly. Again, the moral of the story is that he wasn’t afraid to take a risk; to look or appear differently than his own persona.
So, to all of you with the question about show business, yes there is a chance for you. You might not all become stars—after all, not everyone in the banking business becomes the bank president. But you can work at your craft and do what you love. Have confidence, seek out an agent and follow that person’s advice. You may have to fight for what you want but, then again, anything worthwhile is worth fighting for, isn’t it?
I wish you all the best. Know that you can become triumphant if you really want your career. It’s a career that has made so many people happy and you can be one of them.
Personally handwrite a letter to Kenny, seal and mail it yourself, then look for his answer in a future issue. Send your question to Kenny Kingston, PO Box 1857, Studio City, CA 91614. For more information on Kenny Kingston, visit www.kennykingston.org.