Cereal Authors, interviews, JD Holiday

A Talk With Professional Actress, Singer, Model and AUTHOR, Lora Mitchell

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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). 

Lora Mitchell

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 STREETRehearsal 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.

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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.

Is there any advice you would give to young people who want to go into acting?
First of all, don’t be in a hurry. Get a well-rounded education. Participate in school and local productions. But most of all… be alive.  See, feel, hear, touch and observe everything around you…expand your mind, because if you are self-involved, self-centered, selfish and narrow-minded, you will fail as an actor. Study with the best teachers and coaches available. Read their books on acting. Socialize with working actors.  Don’t hang around negative actors who pipedream and talk big, but never work, because the minute you start working and building credible credits, they will despise you.  Final word. Always listen to that small voice inside you and you will never go wrong.
 
When did you realize you had stories to tell?
Probably during or after therapy…when I got clarity and realized what I had lived through.
 
What led you to writing?
 
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As a singer, I was first interested in lyrics. I joined a songwriter’s workshop which was comprised of lyricists and young composers. It was exciting and thrilling the first time I heard my simple lyrical poem set to music. We then took the music into a studio, hired a singer and made a demo. About the same time, a neighbor/friend told me he was collecting short poems about love for an anthology he was publishing and asked if I would like to send him something. I submitted a simple ditty and forgot about it until I received a copy of the book titled: “Love in New York” with an invitation to the book reading and award banquet. To my amazement, my simple, little ditty won First Prize.  Long out-of-print, I still have my copy…ragged that it is.  I went back to my acting career, wrote and produced a few plays. When family tragedies interrupted my art, I did not attempt to write again until 2008, nine years later.
 

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
Do most of your stories convey themes or messages? 
I’m aware that I do convey themes and messages in my Flash Fiction Short Stories.
What were some of the pitfalls you ran into in your writing career?
None so far. Probably because I am self-publishing.
Tell us about your books TIME SPEAKS, MISTY BLUE and THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD ST. (REHEARSAL CLUB MEMOIR)?

 
MISTY BLUE is my first eBook, A collection of the 100-word Flash Fiction Short Stories I wrote for Friday Fictioneers. Most stories are inspirational in nature.
TIME SPEAKS is my second eBook. Another collection of 100-word Flash Fiction Short Stories. A few stories are extracted from Friday Fictioneers but most are original. Many are memory pieces based on my life, career and people I have known.
THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET (REHEARSAL CLUB MEMOIR)
BROWNSTONE is based on a personal journal I kept while living at the Rehearsal Club for 2 years; a safe-haven for young aspiring actresses.
 When I first arrive in my adopted city, NYC, I invite the reader to walk down the path with me as I discover its wonders and begin a theatrical career. I include anecdotes of my famous teachers, celebrities, male friends, Club housemates and close roommates.
What other writing credits do you have
SHORT STORIES published in the following collections and anthologies:
TREASURED MEMORIES – Short story anthology
ROCKIN’ CHAIR COWBOYS – Short story anthology

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)

FRIDAY FICTIONEER FLASH FICTION SHORT STORIES posted on my Blog…www.triplemoonstar.blogspot.com

POETRY

SWEET DREAM MAKERS – A poetry anthology
LOVE IN NEW YORK (Prize-winning poem).
Was there any particular book or author who influenced you?
 
Being an avid reader, I would say several but I’d like to single out the Pulitzer Prize winner (1996), New York Times national correspondent, Rick Bragg and his heartfelt memoir titled: All Over but the Shoutin.’
Lora with Joltin’ Joe. Yankee slugger, Joe D’Maggio 

while filming the Bowery Savings Bank TV commercial together  

What authors or type of books do you read?
I love history. For a time, I was reading anything and everything I could on WWII.  A recent favorite was Quiet Hero (Secrets from my Father’s (WWII) Past) by Rita Cosby.
 In the late 60’s, I read the epic: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich from cover to cover.   I read the bestseller: Nicholas and Alexandra … about the reign and life of the Russian Czar and never forgot it. Time willing, I would like to re-read it.
I also love re-reading the classics, such as: Wuthering Heights, Gatsby, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, Letter from an Unknown Woman, etc. I recently re-read Steinbeck’s masterpiece, “East of Eden.”
Are you writing now?
Yes, I am writing the sequel to Brownstone.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would not give her any advice. I would wipe her tears, give her a huge hug and thank her for being brave and staying strong against all the odds and struggles that faced her along a difficult, frightening and lonely journey. I would thank her for keeping her faith, morals and ethics and most of all, staying true to herself and always listening to that little voice inside her.
Sweet, Lora!  Thank you so much, Lora for coming on my blog and thank you for the signed
copy of
THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET: Rehearsal Club Memoir. As I say, loved it! 
Sincerely,
~JD

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lora’s
books are:

THE BROWNSTONE ON WEST 53RD STREET: Rehearsal Club Memoir

Ebook:http://www.amazon.com/BROWNSTONE-WEST-53RD-STREET-Rehearsal-ebook/dp/B017A6XKY4/

Paper: http://www.amazon.com/Brownstone-West-53rd-Street/dp/1329664388

 
 
 
 
 
Misty Blue
A collection of 100-Word Flash Fiction Short Stories by Lora Mitchell.
Time Speaks
A collection of 100-Word Flash Fiction Short Stories by Lora Mitchell
Also find Lora at:
                                                                                                          ~JD
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