Just a peek...

Author: Jax Cassidy // Category: , ,
I was bit by the acting bug at about eight years old when my sister and I were picked out at a restaurant to do a local NBC ad campaign that worked towards getting a SAG card. Unfortunately, I don't know what's become out of the project, but it was a paying gig and got us local representation. Don't ask me who, I can't even remember that far back! Over the years, I did tons of extra work, class plays, small productions. At the time there were a lot less Asian American actors and if there were, it was primarily for Disney and other shows that needed to show diversity. In these national and international campaigns, they always made sure the minorities were grouped together and if not, they always paired me with an African American guy. My sister and I did a huge campaign for Disney's videos in Epcot. I don't know if they've changed out the safety videos but if they didn't, you'll see a very very young Jax in almost all them...when I hit my teens, I wanted to pursue acting full-time but my parents thought it was simply a hobby. I am one of those people who doesn't like to be told I can't succeed in any profession. In a few weeks time, I was a leading extra..doesn't sound like much, but there weren't roles I could audition for being Asian. I was feature as 'the student' in the Mickey Mouse Club and its spin-off, Emerald Cove. I would work weeks at a time and whenever a movie rolled into town, they would call me to come in to work. I was a working extra. I know, it's not so glamorous sounding, but it was so much fun for a teen. To get paid was a bonus because the excitement was in standing in front of the camera and meeting your favorite teen actors on a daily basis. The gigs kept coming and I kept making money during the summers and on weekends doing this stuff.

When I was seventeen I met John Ritter. He changed my life.

I was doing a Fourth of July special for Disney and I was a total ham on the set. Everyone knew me because I had done so much extra work they thought I worked for Disney. I would get full access into the theme parks whenever we weren't shooting and on one crazy day, I started joking with a really nice gentleman. We became fast friends and during a lull in the shoot when I was talking to my new 'friend', John Ritter came over and sat down next to me on a bench. He threw an arm around my shoulders and said, "I hear you're looking for me." I was stunned, dumbfounded. So was everybody else because John Ritter was talking to ME! It turned out my new 'friend' was John's best friend. He takes him along to some filming projects when he wanted the company. We talked for a long while about acting, my passion, what I wanted to be when I grow up. John gave me advice that I'll remember forever. He said, "If you really want it bad enough, whether it's acting or another career field, be passionate about it. Love what you're doing. Learn it and never stop learning. When you believe in yourself and what you want to achieve, you will be successful."

He was brilliant in so many ways. He made me laugh so hard at times I couldn't breathe. He was charming and kind. Genuine. After that filming he had asked for my headshots to take to his agency. He liked me so much he offered to have the writers write me a role on Heart's Afire as an ongoing assistant of his. I was young, I was confused and I passed on the opportunity. Heart's Afire maybe made it two seasons but it was a strong vehicle for many of its actors. I never regretted it and over the years I corresponded with my 'friend' and John. I have autographed photos and such but during the almost 20 years of traveling, I've lost all those sacred pieces from the person who changed my life.

I guess that one pivotal moment made me realize that he was right. My passion drives me and without the belief in myself and what I can accomplish, I wouldn't get there. Years later, I have a lifetime of memories. I worked in the entertainment business long enough to understand it. From movie extra, actress, to 2nd assistant, to personal assistant, to screenwriter...I've done it all. I've busted butt for every project, and I've met so many celebrities and high profile people I can't even remember. From James Cameron to Taye Diggs to Jim Henson...but those memories are mine and I'm going to draw on them someday.

I've been thinking about the entertainment industry for a long while and I'm getting back to it. I'm writing screenplays again. I'm ready to branch out and do what I've always been capable of doing. Regardless of what others believed. I know many have thought my writing sucked and I'd never publish, never sell...but look where I am now? If I had allowed these vicious words and skepticism to rule me, I would not be here today...writing on this blog.

So...to John Ritter...Thank you, wherever you are. You have touched my life and helped shaped my career. You are missed.

2 Responses to "Just a peek..."

Louisa Edwards Says :
9:13 AM

What a sweet story! I was so sad when John Ritter died. But his legacy definitely lives on!

jax Says :
8:00 AM

Yes it does and I am sure that wherever he is, he knows he's made impact on a lot of young people's lives.

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