The moment Lora Mitchell sets foot on the stimulating, exciting rich land of culture, concrete and skyscrapers, it’s an immediate love affair. Walk with her down the streets of the early 1960’s as she paints a captivating picture of the spirit of the city, the landscape, its people, different neighborhoods and certain ethnic foods, which puzzle her. A desire to begin a theatrical career, young, naive, unsophisticated, Lora moves into the Rehearsal Club, a safe-haven sanctuary for young, aspiring actresses model where she lives for two years. During that time, she experiences the heartbreaking JFK tragedy and travels with four other Club members to Washington, DC for the funeral.
Lora began a second career as a published writer. Lora won 1st prize for her poem in an anthology titled: LOVE IN NEW YORK and enjoys writing Flash Fiction short stories in the eBook titled: MISTY BLUE. Her eBook II is titled: TIME SPEAKS. (Both eBooks are collections of 100-Word Flash Fiction Short Stories).
Based on a personal journal and a 30-yr. career as a SAG/AFTRA/AEA actress/model, THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET: Rehearsal Club Memoir, Lora writes of her studies with famous drama and dance teachers, including anecdotes of her Club housemates, celebrities and male friends. She also reveals poignant secrets of her closest roommates and how they affected her in a way she never expected. Lora also has short stories and poems in books/ anthologies titled: TREASURED MEMORIES, ROCKIN’ CHAIR COWBOYS, SWEET DREAM MAKERS, FLASH FICTION (1 photo, 50 Authors, 100 Words), plus 2 pieces in the book SIX-WORD MEMOIRS ON LOVE AND HEARTBREAK. Another 6-word memoir was published in AARP’s MODERN MATURITY MAGAZINE. Lora has several future writing projects. Lora also won 2nd prize for a flash fiction children’s short story titled: LITTLE CHICK.
Hi Lora, Thank you so much for doing this interview! I admire you greatly! I read THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET: Rehearsal Club Memoir, which I LOVE. Your stories are heart warming and took me back to a time in my own life that at the time I never thought I would miss.
Tell us more about your professional acting, singing and modeling career.
Where do I begin? Like most kids, living in a small town, I did not grow up wanting a professional career…didn’t even know what that was. I had no idea what I wanted to be or do.
It was really a fluke how my career began. After high school, I acquired a secretarial job in a nearby city and lived at the residential YWCA; a place I loved. One weekend, in the community kitchen, I met the most striking female I had ever seen. More beautiful than all the gorgeous Hollywood movie stars I had long admired. Long, shoulder-length blond hair, peachy skin, sandals, Daisy-Mae, cut off short jeans and blouse tied at the waist. No makeup or fingernail polish. She took my breath away. We chatted and became fast friends. I soon learned that she was not only a busy model and famous Breck girl but the local beauty pageant winner who competed in the Ms. America contest. Was I impressed? You bet.
I have no idea what she saw in me sitting there eating my burger …but she obviously did because in a few days, she took it upon herself to spend time with this average-looking secretary…and transformed her into someone I didn’t recognize. She worked on me every day… after work and on weekends. I thought it was fun girly stuff, but she had an ulterior motive which I was not privy to at the time. Makeup lessons, hair-coloring from drab brown to blonde, modeling poses, manicures and wardrobe shopping which included a demure one-piece bathing suit.
I soon learned she was recruiting girls for the next local beauty pageant and set her eyes on me. Terrified, I balked. Except for singing a simple duet in the high school variety show, I had no formal training, so she gave me a few lessons. How did I ever get the nerve to go on? But I did and became 1st runner-up. That led to various modeling jobs and singing on weekends with a local band. I was so excited and hooked on this new career, my boyfriend at the time, horrified by the attention I was getting, broke off with me.
A week or so after the pageant, my beautiful, generous mentor married her sweetheart and moved to another state. I never saw her again. About a year or two later, I moved to another city, auditioned for summer-stock and appeared in a series of musicals. At the end of the season, the musical director from New York told me I was wasting my talent in that small city and recommended that I move to New York City to pursue a career. And that’s exactly what I did. I studied with top acting teachers, famous dance teachers, etc. and began auditioning and working professionally.
What were some of the pitfalls you ran into in your acting career?
I was aware of the pitfalls from the very beginning and managed to shield myself by being instinctive, intuitive and alert, but there were two incidents that caught me off guard. I managed to escape each incident with my pride, reputation and dignity intact.
Early on in my career, the first one was an upsetting episode with a middle-aged, crude, cigar-chopping, summer stock Actors Equity producer who fooled me into believing I was cast and signed to principal and secondary roles. But upon reading the contract more closely, I learned I was to be a non-salaried apprentice. When I asked about housing accommodations, he told me there was no ample housing for the entire cast, so I would be rooming with him !!! Trembling, I shredded the contract in his presence, walked out and took a taxi to Actors Equity to report him.
The second incident was later in my career, after I was long established in the business, when a well-known casting director foolishly tried the casting couch bit in his office. I say foolish, because he was in business with the man I was currently dating and there would have been serious repercussions had I reported his behavior. However, I did report both men to Actors Equity.
I’m a short story writer myself. Why did you decide to write short stories?
It all happened with Facebook. Larry Smith posted something about a book he was publishing, seeking 6-word memoirs. I submitted a few. He chose two … a 3-word memoir and a 6-word memoir and published it in his book titled: Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak (by writers famous and obscure). I then submitted a 6-word memoir to AARP’s magazine, which was also was published. About the same time, a FB member mentioned an on-line writing group called Friday Fictioneers. Writers from all over the world submitted 100-Word Flash Fiction Short Stories based on the same photo prompt. Eventually, I gathered my stories and put them into two eBooks for Amazon.com. Then a woman/writer from Texas posted…asking for short stories for her short story anthology. I submitted one or two and she accepted them. She then requested add’l short stories for her next book and published those as well. I realized how much I loved writing short stories.
|On the set of Blondes Prefer Gentlemen, filmed at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. The cinamaphotographer is lighting me for my close up|
FLASH FICTION (1 Photo, 50 Authors, 100-Words SIX-WORD MEMOIRS ON LOVE AND HEARTBREAK (2 Pieces)
SHORT STORY TITLED: “THE SHACK” – Smith Magazine (On-line)
AARP’S MODERN MATURITY MAGAZINE (A 6-word memoir)
|Lora with Joltin’ Joe. Yankee slugger, Joe D’Maggio
while filming the Bowery Savings Bank TV commercial together
copy of THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET: Rehearsal Club Memoir. As I say, loved it!
THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET: Rehearsal Club Memoir