Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hollywood Days - Christina Nigra Part 1

Pin It Now! Today's Hollywood post comes from my friend, Christina Nigra. She was one of my closest friends back in my Lassie days. It's been a while since I told you she was coming so in case you missed it the first time here's her scoop.

Christina Nigra has worn many hats over the years . . . actress, sorority girl, office manager, lawyer . . . currently her most important role is mommy to two munchkins (ages 3 years and 9 months) and two fur-babies (rescued pit bull mixes). She is also a devoted wife, home improvement survivor, play date goddess, sometime writer, cooking blogger, budding entrepreneur, spiritual student, and lover of food, wine, travel and all things 'joie de vivre." She plans to learn to play guitar and speak French before the end of 2010. She is humbled and grateful for the many blessings in her unconventionial and joy-filled life.

Snapshots from a Surreal Childhood: The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Weird
(Part 1 of 2)
I started acting when I was just three years old and living in Lafayette (Northern California).
As the story goes, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said, without hesitation, “A movie star!”Amazingly enough, she took me seriously (probably more serious than I would take my now-three year old daughter!) and soon got me signed up with a print and commercial agent in San Francisco. Then, on a family vacation to Disneyland, I got hooked up with a theatrical agent in LA. Pretty soon my parents and I were loading up in the old Subaru station wagon and driving, sometimes twice a week (!), to and from LA for (mostly) commercial auditions. Ah, nothing like whizzing down the 5 freeway standing up on the center console, singing and dancing to Elton John and Chicago, parents blissfully oblivious to the inherent danger…gotta love the 1970’s. As a result of countless such trips and literally hundreds of hours spent preparing and going to auditions, I got exactly…one commercial. Thankfully, I did end up getting plenty of other kinds of acting work and pretty soon we moved to LA so I could pursue my career whole-heartedly.

Being a child actor is sort of weird and surreal, and sort of normal and ordinary.It’s ordinary in the sense that it’s not terribly different from any other hobby or sport or pursuit that most kids have. Instead of going to soccer practice after school, I’d go on auditions – big deal. But it’s surreal in the sense that, at a very early age I had a full time job, I hung out with icons of acting and sports at shwanky events (even on school nights!), and I was more or less treated as an adult, with all the good and bad ramifications that that entails.

(That’s me on the left, not doing such a stellar job looking natural…)

Although I acted for almost fifteen years, most of the coolness, and the craziness, happened while I played Lindsay, the boy-crazy best friend of a half-alien, on the TV show, “Out of this World,” which filmed from 1987 to 1991 (from when I was twelve until I was sixteen). The acting itself and the bond formed with fellow actors was, without a doubt, the real highlight of the whole thing, but there was a lot to be said (whether good or otherwise) about everything that went along with the actual work. In order to convey kind of a Gestalt sense of what the experience was like, here, in no particular order, are some random snapshots of things that happened to me during that magical and wacky time… Wendy and others have blogged about before, teen actors often are called upon to go to charitable and community events in order to lend some (questionable) degree of cache. One of the coolest such events I had the pleasure to attend was the Great American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.Besides the fact that I actually won the Celebrity Oil Can Race (possibly the only “athletic event” in which I ever prevailed in my whole life), the niftiest part of the weekend was that I and the other “celebrities” received a full-on, traffic-stopping, lights swirling and sirens blaring, police escort from the airport to our hotel.This was definitely the closest I will ever come to feeling like an honest-to-goodness movie star, and I savored every ridiculous moment of it. Another cool event was an Oscar party at the Beverly Hilton.It was such a hoot being there with the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor and other luminaries, especially when it turned out to be over capacity, and mere peons like John Travolta were summarily turned away by the fire marshal. (John, if by some odd chance you’re reading this, I’m truly sorry about that…but don’t worry, I had an extra mini-smoked-salmon-on-toast specially in your honor…and it was really yummy.)

The Oscar party in question provided the opportunity for this description-defying photo
(from Wendy’s illustrious private stash) to be captured for all posterity.

(another one from Wendy's stash. From a charity bowling tournament in New Mexico. Do I really need to comment on the outfits?)

Yet another memorable event was the grand opening of Splash Mountain at Disneyland. This was waaaaay back in the day, before Fast Pass existed, so for me the absolute most exciting part of the day was being able to cut to the front of the line (actually, technically, in through the out door).The ride could have consisted of standing and staring at a white wall for five minutes and I still would have been excited to go on it just for the experience of bypassing those sweat-inducing, mind-numbing, feet-killing lines.I’m pretty simple and easily amused, clearly.

One last vain, superficial “good” thing about the acting gig – all the free schwag. It makes no sense to me (from a philosophical perspective) why companies give free things to those most able to afford to buy them (in theory, at least – you wouldn’t exactly have caught me cruising Sunset Boulevard in a Mercedes), even though it obviously does from a marketing and publicity standpoint. But nonetheless, most of the events we attended did come with a fair share of great stuff that I would likely not have bought for myself. For me, with my jaw-droppingly-dicey sense of fashion (and that is being generous), the best thing to come from all of this were the free pairs of Adidas wrestling shoes.True, I had no business wearing them when the only thing I was wrestling with was calculus and not getting enough sleep at night, but I donned those things with nearly every get-up I had, dresses and shorts alike. Unfortunately for me, and for my kids when they have to look back at pictures of me, the concept of having a stylist was clearly not en vogue circa 1990.

(Wendy here- Christina forgot to mention our fabulous TeenBeat weekend in San Diego. I will do a full post about that weekend another time, but for now. Here is a pic from that glamourous teen event. Christina, Jenny Beck, Crytal McKellar, and Danica McKellar.)

I would bet good money that I have wrestling shoes on with this, um, colorful outfit…quite the look.Now for the truly good parts of the whole experience: I had the distinct privilege of meeting and working with a wide and varied array of famous folks, such as astronaut Scott Carpenter, football player Lyle Alzado, Tom Bosley, Mr. T (such a sweetheart!), Scott Baio, and Karim Abdul Jabar, to name just a few. Truly, I feel ridiculously blessed by the people I had the good fortune to meet and only wish that I had had Wikipedia and IMDB back then so I could have boned up on each of these amazing folks while I was in their acquaintance.I kick myself now for not appreciating those encounters even more at the time.I also had the chance to do a lot of random, cool things that you don’t normally get to do, especially as a teenager. Off the top of my head, I got to pet a white tiger, I piloted the Goodyear blimp over LA, I played tennis with Miss Universe and Sammy Hagar, and I had the privilege of actually (well, hopefully) influencing other kids by talking to them about staying in school and off drugs and the like. And lastly, I’d like to think that my appearance at oh-so-many charity events over the years helped to raise some extra funds for worthy organizations like Athletes & Others for Kids and the Make-a-Wish Foundation…but at the very least, I did get some wrestling shoes out of the deal.

Pin It Now!


CAP17 said...

LOVE the pics! What's up with Maureen's fingernails? I do not remember the magic pumping through those puppies. Awesome post! Can't wait for part 2 :)
And for those of you who haven't checked out Christina's cooking blog, it rocks, and has kid suggestions on how to let them help you cook.

mel @ the larson lingo said...

I LOVED "Out of this World" it was one of my favorite shows growing up! :)

Hollywood party supplies said...

great blog i like it
In a very big way, the real life has transformed and this is portrayed on the celluloid nowadays.

hollywood party supplies said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
montu said...

Great Show. Liked pics & post.

hollywood party supplies said...

Hollywood is a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California - situated west-northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical center of movie studios and movie stars, the word "Hollywood" is often used as a metonymy of American cinema, and is often interchangeably used to refer to the greater Los Angeles area in general.
hollywood party supplies