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Posts tagged “The Montel Williams Show

Career Currency

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My first TV appearance on The Montel Williams Show in 1994.

It was early in 1994 when the call came in. The Montel Williams Show wanted me as a guest to discuss the “Tonya/Nancy” fallout. Naturally, I was beyond thrilled, excited and, yes, nervous. But I had just launched a figure skating magazine and was eager for all the promotion I could get.

I remember like it was yesterday the days leading up to my first TV appearance. The call with the producer going over details of the planned show. Their booking of my flight to New York and my hotel. In the end I drove to the city the day before as a snowstorm threatened to cancel flights from Worcester. I couldn’t believe I was in New York as a guest on one of the most popular syndicated talk shows of the time. The taping went great and the rest as they say was history – over 15 years of TV appearances around the sport of figure skating (the total count is around 300). Because they wanted me on that show and because I said yes, it launched my career and created a brand in the process. Someone reading this is now asking how much I was paid in cash. The answer is simple – zero. It was exposure.

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As a judge on FOX’s Skating with Celebrities.

Throughout my career the one thing I have endeavored to keep is an open mind. When an opportunity presents itself the first thing I look at is the exposure. Is it going to look good on my resume? Might it lead to something else? Will the footage be worthwhile? Perhaps the most important – will I have a good time. Sure, the compensation package is a consideration. But currency shouldn’t just be measured in dollars and cents. Each “gig” is cumulative. By simple example, many high profile “non-cash” TV appearances led to a $2,500 an episode paid gig as a Judge on FOX’s Skating with Celebrities.

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On ESPN’s The Price of Gold.

Unfortunately, what I’m seeing in this industry lately are closed minds unwilling to see the big picture. An actor, who I booked on a paid gig last year, recently took to social media to call out a listing they saw about how actors apparently weren’t being compensated. Instead of ignoring the posting they thought it was a good idea to take their “vent” to social media to get like-minded people to agree with them. I have seen other similar postings or have heard of those brought to my attention. These actors believe they’re doing the industry a service when in fact they just expose themselves as nonprofessionals. What’s curious about some is that they are represented by reputable agents. Do these agents know what their clients are doing on social media? Sadly, they don’t think about the possible fallout from defamation or that they have now branded themselves as troublemakers. Believe me when I tell you, producers, casting agents, directors and employers look at your social media before hiring you for a gig or a job. I now understand why some of these folks have painfully thin resumes.

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At the Naval Justice School with fellow actors

To quote Paul McGill in my favorite book A Woman of Substance, “We are each the authors of our own lives, Emma. We live in what we have created. There is no way to shift the blame and no one else to accept the accolades.” Whether I’m creating a project or considering the opportunity to work on one, I always look at career “currency” and how it will increase my brand. This is all about leveraging one project after another. The one thing everyone wants in this industry is to be noticed. I think it’s best to be known for ones accomplishments rather than complaints.

I’m now thinking to myself, what if I said no back in 1994? Would my career have launched? Who knows. But one thing I do know is this is an industry of endless opportunities.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time.

Choices.

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It all started with that first TV appearance in 1994.

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A Present Past

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1930 Duesenberg Model J

Yesterday was another exciting Cars & Coffee event at Rosecliff in Newport, RI. While there are many car shows in the region, they don’t have the backdrop and atmosphere of Gilded Age mansions. What’s unique about this show is the range of cars from the classic Volkswagen Beetle to Lamborghini and beyond, this event brings people together from every walk of life.

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1910 American Underslung Traveler

After the show I visited the Audrain Automobile Museum to see their latest exhibit – Fun, Fast and Fabulous. While I once owned a pretty fast car (Acura NSX), for me it’s about the fun and the fabulous. This exhibit most certainly did not disappoint! With a 1910 American Underslung Traveler and 1930 Duesenberg Model J, it’s well worth the trip to Newport to see these works of art. Yes, as I saw on their website, the Audrain is more of an art museum that presents classic and contemporary automobiles.

Over the last several weeks I have been on a variety of weekend trips. The one thing that makes the recording of all this possible is the present world we live in – digital photography and filmmaking. Sure, the digital process has been around for many years, but its democratization has made it possible for so many of us to not only preserve history for future generations, but to create some history ourselves.

Case in point I finally located the box of VHS tapes of the numerous TV interviews I made between the early 1990s to early 2000s. This week I start the process of their conversion to digital. This particular time in figure skating no longer exists. It was a time when the sport operated like the bygone days of the movie studios. There were two major companies that literally controlled certain skaters and venues with a few independents that rounded out the industry.

What will I do with all this footage? First, it depends on how well it converts. A variety of articles I’ve read claims the shelf life to be 10-15 years based on numerous factors. But one tape I had from my 1994 appearance on the Montel Williams Show played great.  Time will tell how this project concludes.

While there are some filmmakers that harken back to the days of producing on film, the digital process has made it possible from an economic point of view for filmmakers like me and countless others to produce. Gone are the days when this was an industry in the hands of a few with distribution outlets controlled by a literal handful of companies. Now, with the right project, the tools are in all our hands to get the word out.

But getting that word out in today’s digital world is perhaps even more involved than it was ten plus years ago. Why? Because everyone is doing it. The key, in my view, is to have something that people want to share. By nature human beings are social creatures and sharing is what we do. By example these Cars & Coffee events. I discovered this event through a promoted post on Facebook. From there it was an RSVP and sign-up on their email newsletter. The result was bridging the past with the present.

Documentary.

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A collection of my TV interviews from the early 1990s to early 2000s. The conversion process begins this week.