A recent recipient of one of the Chappell Player's first Hall of Fame awards, LJ defines what it means to be a trendsetter. A graduate of the class of '85, LJ continues to inspire and encourage those she encounters in her life, notably through her work creating and running the High Street Arts Center in Moorpark, CA. LJ took some time to sit with us and give a tell all to her many adventures post CPTG.
Who are you and what significant contributions did you make to the organization?
I graduated in 1985, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and an Associates degree in Speech & Theatre. I assisted in the reactivation of the Board, served as Vice president, and help revatilize the marketing plan for the shows. When we opened my first show with Chappell Players we had an audience of 6 people. When we opened "BARNUM", which was my last show, we opened to a sold out crowd.
How was the transition from college to the real world? How was life after graduation?
My transition was particularly difficult, honestly. My Mom passed away suddenly 2 weeks after graduation, which was 2 months after we lost the family business. After losing our home, I lived in my car. But I had some truly wonderful friends and a strong faith that things would work out. And I had (and have) a wonderful brother, John, also a former Chappell Player) who shared everything he could with me, and visa-versa. I fell back upon what I knew and what I learned. I was the in-house stage manager at Circle in the Square Reparatory, as well as several other jobs, turned to my lovely Chappell Player friends, and moved upward and onward!
"life ebbs and flows. but theatre has always been a big part of my life"
Did being involved in the Chappell Players prepare you for life after college? How so?
YES! It taught me the value of team work. It helped me define who I am, and it gave me a voice.
What is your favorite CPTG memory or experience?
It was college... there are some things a lady never tells!
Have you been able to remain involved with theatre as much as you hoped/wanted?
Actually, not that far off... and the real answer to your question should start with what "professional" really means. I have never defined "professional" as a paycheck. "Professional" has to do with Attitude & Commitment, not a union card or a paycheck. Every actor started at the same salary - applause. I have worked with many wonderful theater people (on and off the stage) who are much more "professional" than divas who happen to get a paycheck.
"PROFESSIONAL" IS DEFINED BY 3 THINGS... YOUR LEVEL OF COMMITMENT, THE LEVEL OF CARE YOU PUT INTO IT, AND THE ATTITUDE YOU HAVE WHILE YOU ARE DOING IT.
What is professional theatre like compared to what you did with the Chappell Players?
Sometimes. Life ebbs and flows. But theatre has always been a big part of my life. I have been blessed to have a beautiful and supportive Theatre Family on both coasts. I try to make time to perform a couple of times a year, I direct, produce, and currently serve on the Board of Directors of Camarillo Skyway Playhouse in Califonia. I have been a talent agent, talent manager, and a casting director. I teach acting and improv to kids, and my own daughter (10 years old) is a performer and television actress herself.
Do you have any advice for Chappell Players going through college or those who have already graduated?
Define what you believe is a "professional" right now... after being a talent agent and a professional casting director, I can tell you that the definition has nothing to do with what unions you belong to, and nothing to do with the size of the paycheck. "Professional" is defined by 3 things... your level of commitment, the level of care you put into it, and the attitude you have while you are doing it. Remember that your first paycheck did not reflect any zeroes... it was the sound of the applause. Take that with you, and you will always be a "professional".