When someone says to you, "Oh my God..., your baby is so cute, you should put them in..." insert whatever they say, movies, modeling, television, whatever crazy talk, and then tell them straight up, "NO!" Trust me, it's not all bad, but sometimes the cons outweigh the pros, and here's why. This is my story on how my then 2-year-old was cast on an episode of Secrets & Lies, and how for a day my daughter was more demon, than cute-baby actress.
Her call time was at 7 a.m. Not bad, right? Wrong. Let me explain. Even though we had to report to a park by 7 a.m., which was only 9 miles away, 9 miles in Los Angeles during morning traffic is a little over an hour drive! Meaning, I had to wake up a 2-year old at 5 AM. Let's just say she was a cranky damn beast, channeling Kathleen Turner in spirit and in voice. Oh, if only she knew the words...
Yeah..., not so cute on a baby. Also, it was so early there really wasn't time to drop her older brothers off at school, so it became a family trip, well minus my husband who had his own set to report to for work, even earlier.
We showed up on time because I'm awesome like that, and that's where we met my daughter's Studio Teacher. For those that aren't familiar with the behind-the-scenes-inner-workings, if a minor is on set, there has to be a Studio Teacher. They are advocates for the children, and make sure that the big bad movie makers don't take advantage of our little ones, but guess what? Cranky 2-year-old meeting strangers, who didn't get as much sleep as they normally would wasn't feeling this particular Studio Teacher and if she came even 4-feet within her vicinity, she had a mini melt-down. My daughter turned into a stage 4 clinger, a crazy barnacle at the bottom of my legs. Let's just say it made it real awkward. I truly never thought I'd have to turn into one of those Moms, especially when the lady was trying to be nice.The kind where as a Mom I'm like, "yeah, could you just go stand over there, please."
I felt rude, but seriously? For someone who works with children for a living, have a little perspective, and go away because you're freaking out my kid!
Next, while she is a girl who loves dresses, I don't know any toddler that has acquired the patience for trying on clothes. So, when wardrobe showed up with multiple choices, let's just say it didn't look like this was going to work out all too well. And, guess what? It didn't. By the third possible choice she was ready to throat punch somebody, or at the very least have an epic tantrum. And, eventually that is exactly what she did when we tried to take off a pair of fluffy Ugg boots to try on something different. The epic tantrum, not the throat punch. That would have been hilarious.
But, I'd be lying if I said it was all bad. It wasn't. Once she was dressed and ready to go, the scene was set. The writers were smart and wrote the scene at the playground, so for a couple of hours she was pushed in a swing by a couple of great guys. Both Michael Ealy and Charlie Barnett were great with her, and the anxiety she felt towards the Studio Teacher finally melted away. The swing might have had a huge part in it, too.
When her day as an actress was done, and the director called, "That's a wrap for Phoenix," I was proud that there were no serious problems. That I could finally breathe deep because I'm not going to lie; I was worried. All my kids at this age tended to clam up around strangers, but she did real great. Although, by the time we were packed up to go I could see by her eyes that she was tired, and I knew that because Los Angeles sucks ass we were going to hit traffic going home. I sent out a prayer that she wouldn't waste her nap (and my alone-time) in the car seat stuck on the damn 405. Once we hit the freeway, I made it a mission to sing at the top of my lungs because I'm mother-of-the-year material, and like I said before, I'm awesome like that. Yep, that's right, I deprived her of falling asleep in the car. But seriously, for my own sanity, I must have that two-hour break all to my freaking self, or us parents would never make it.
Last time I ask, but..., guess what? That was over a year ago. During filming she had just turned 2, but last month she just turned 3. That's how long it took for her tiny debut to be edited and scheduled. And, that's my ramblings on how it felt to be a stage mom for half a day. It was tough getting three small kids to set by 7, lugging a bunch of stuff, keeping my sons from being bored while she worked, a lot of running around, but also fun, and seriously..., I don't ever want to do it again, but I'm glad I did. One day, a long time from now, I'll watch her episode and I'll get to forever remember when she was my perfect little precious demon-beast, Pull-up kicking actress, and love ever second of it.
Check out Phoenix's small part at: http://abc.go.com/shows/secrets-and-lies/video/cornell-confidential/VDKA3558903