What about the highs and lows of your acting career?
It’s not always easy to get in the “door.” You know when I first came to Los Angeles, I slept on my girlfriend’s floor for a year. I got my first agent and I sent my pictures out to everybody and since I had no experience and I had nothing on tape or even seen, some of the [agencies] sent my pictures back to me [laughs]. You have to have an attitude that nothing’s gonna stop me. I think that’s just my New York kind of attitude — survival of the fittest. You cannot let people come up in your face and stop you.
So I went in and got the agent that way and started to do commercials and whatever and my first role, I think, was playing a gang member. It was a guest spot on this show called “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.” With every job, you know there are highs and lows. After the first Best Man, I had a big movie, Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock that was huge. It still comes on television. I am still getting paid, which is great and crazy [laughs].
I also got a TV series with [producer] Darren Starr, who created “Sex in the City” that was big time for me and took me to another part of the business. When I got the big Darren Starr break we got canceled after five episodes because we were up against another show called “The West Wing.” So we were in the same time slot and we got clobbered — that show was huge. After that I got depressed for a while. It was such a big deal because [I was] working in New York, my hometown and coming off the success of The Best Man and I think it messed with my head a little bit, which was the first time I had a major disappointment.
Then there were times I didn’t work for maybe two or three years. There was a time I didn’t have an agent for one reason or another. When the agent dropped me I was like “OK, maybe I am not in the business anymore.” God-willing you can collect unemployment from the residuals from other things you have done in the past. You collect your unemployment and then you pray. You still go out and do your hustle. I always would save money because you never know when that dry spell is gonna hit — and it did. Just go and keep auditioning and keep trying and keep believing things will turn around and it always does.
Kudos to Melissa for keeping it pushing through the hard times in her career. What did you think of her performance in The Best Man Holiday, Bossip fam?
Photo Credit: DeWayne Rogers