I have spent my entire life to some extent in and around the entertainment industry. My dad was a bandleader and drummer. When I was only 5 years old I was a model and apparently some level of actor because I once even performed a small role at the prestigious Goodman Theatre in Chicago. In my early teens I spent a couple of weeks with the amazing songstress Jane Morgan at her summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. But before that I even did a mini magic show before a live audience and got applause, but found the experience so terrifying that when Jane offered me a part in her summer stock play I declined.
I went on to join the Marine Corps but the entertainment world continued to follow me in some unusual ways. One example was the night I ran into Oscar-winning super star of his day William Holden hoisting a few at the Opium Den Bar in Hong Kong. Bill invited me and several of my Marine friends to join him for night of revelry that will never be forgotten. Not once did we discuss the movie business. Same thing when I happened to meet Oscar nominee Robert Mitchum in Vietnam.
Nevertheless, later on I hosted a television talk show in the Chicago area and later on when I moved to Burbank, California more than three decades ago I began doing a radio talk show on KFOX 93.5 FM. My very first celebrity guest was Mel Gibson, then a young man who had just returned from filming Mad Max. He struck me as a very pleasant guy not in any way full of himself just clearly happy to be connecting with success.
Later I began doing both film and theatre reviews. And I even wrote a book entitled Hollywood on Stage: A Critical Review which you may purchase here if you so desire.
But not once did I even come close to being “star struck” nor did I develop any interest whatsoever in pursuing any form of an acting career. But then something happened that forever changed my life. About twelve years ago now my youngest daughter said to me: “Daddy, I want to be an actress.” Suddenly I began to look at the issue of just how in the heck does anyone “make it” in Hollywood. Sure I rubbed elbows with an Oscar winner, met other top celebrities and actually devoted a significant amount of time reviewing film and stage performances but I will be damned if I could find any magic formula. hen a few days ago now I had the opportunity to see and review a show entitled Rabbit Hole at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood.
The entire cast was excellent and the show very entertaining but one actor just hit me. His name is Rocky Collins and some kind of electricity leaped from his eyes and hands off of the stage and into my brain such that after the show I asked for his contact information because I wanted to write a little bio piece about him. But why?
Over the years I have met and watched literally thousands of actors perform, most of them good, many extremely good but never before had any of them inspired me in the way Rocky inspired me. Whatever was the cause of the positive energy we nevertheless recently met for some in depth conversation only partially related to making it in Hollywood. I discovered that Rocky hails from New Jersey, received his Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Public Relations and Marketing from the University of Pennsylvania and received training at the highly acclaimed William Esper Studios in New York.
Now there was one very interesting element that made Rocky stand out. His college majors were in marketing and public relations, two areas primarily focused on business. So many actors focus only on show and utterly ignore business even though business is double the size of show. Rocky saw the all-important connection with the two critical elements being both the show and the business.
But what exactly was it that motivated Rocky Collins to pursue a life in the world of show business in general and acting in particular? Well he confessed his greatest motivation was Beyonce’. After being totally mesmerized by Beyonce’ at a concert in Philadelphia it occurred to Rocky that her performance was so powerful, so overwhelming, so compelling, so superbly done that she was able to completely own the audience.
A top performer such as Beyonce’ has the ability to transform people and remove them at least for a while from their humdrum lives and move them to a happier place. That then became Rocky’s life mission, no not to be Beyonce’ but to have the power to captivate an eager audience and transport them even if only briefly to a happier place.
Okay but that is probably not all that different from the general sentiment of most actors. What Rocky Collins also saw was an absolute need to stay fully immersed in the entire process every day all the time. Yes, of course, auditions are necessary and they don’t always result in a job. But well beyond that Rocky continues to expand his horizons. He is working on his first screen play; he is aggressively pursuing his acting wherever he can including stage, screen and television. He is not only unafraid of work but loves it and just can’t get enough; and that folks is why I see Rocky Collins as the very real deal, a true rising star, a man well on his way to truly “making it” in Hollywood.
Right about this same time I received a copy of a book about the late great Garry Marshall entitled: Garry Marshall Wake Me When It’s Funny written by Lori Marshall. Garry Marshal did act in nine shows but his greatest claim to fame were several hit television shows that he created, produced and or directed including “Happy Days,” “Laverne and Shirley,” “Mork and Mindy” and so many more.
Garry also directed the huge film hit Pretty Woman and wrote scores of television shows. Pay attention here, Garry Marshall did anything and everything he could in the world of performing arts including writing, acting, producing and directing. In this wonderful book he tells of both successes and failures and with regard to failures it is always a matter of learn from them, get up and move on — never ever quit.
Another person who was clearly a super star by any rational measure was the late, great and gorgeous Marilyn Monroe who said of her craft:
“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and goddamn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about your business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way”
This is exactly the attitude presented by Rocky Collins and he doesn’t just talk the talk he is clearly fully walking the walk and that is why I am highly confident that someday he will find himself on the red carpet in front of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Talent is, of course, important and Rocky has plenty of that. But he also has the same unstoppable drive as exhibited by such proven super star winners as Marilyn Monroe, Garry Marshall, William Holden, Robert Mitchum and Mel Gibson. None of those people were ever perfect but they all knew how to combine both the show and the business and never ever under any circumstance ever give up. That is how you make it not only in Hollywood but in all of life.
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You may also want to enjoy some visual art here.
Top photo: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the Oscar-winning
film about making it in Hollywood, La La Land.
Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author.