Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hollywood Days - Christina Nigra Part 2

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This is part 2 of Christina Nigra's guest post. If you missed Part 1 go check it out or you will be completely lost. Not really, but she talks about wrestling shoes and I used to wear them all the time so it was nostalgic for me.
You can also read my post about some of my Hollywood friends back in those days, which included Christina.
(Wendy's Pic: Soleil Moon Frye with her pet Dinosaur, Christina sporting the high belt look, and Wendy in romper. Might have been OJ Simpson behind us. Kinda looks like him, right?)

The Bad

Often people glamorize the experience of being an actor and mistakenly think that it’s all limos and wrestling shoes (see Part 1). Unfortunately, that is really just not the case. In fact, there were many unexpected aspects of the acting gig that were annoying or unseemly at best, frightening at worst. For example, having a full-time job at such an early age was definitely a mixed blessing. On the positive side, it taught me diligence, determination, and dependability. On the negative side, it meant working even when I had a horrendous cold and could barely stand up because if I didn’t the producers would lose over a million dollars (as they not-so-subtly let me know when I was sneezing and coughing on set). I definitely wished I could just get a note from my mom to get me out of work for the day! Being surrounded day-in and day-out by adults also meant that sometimes my co-workers “forgot” that I was only in my early teens and would make crude or comments or “jokes” to me. In a way, it was kind of fun to be playing grown-up like that, but at the same time I knew when things were inappropriate and could often be found blushing and pretending like I didn’t hear some of the things being said around me.

(Wendy's Pic: Andre Gower, Wendy, and Christina at a birthday party)

Another misconception people have is that my classmates at my high school were jealous of me or otherwise “star struck,” maybe wanting to be my friend only because I was on a TV show. Sadly, quite the opposite was true. I’ll never know what their real motivation was, but many of my fellow teenagers were quite hostile toward me. One time a guy I didn’t even know (I think he was a senior when I was a freshman) shoved me up against a locker and cursed at me. When I tried to verbally defend myself, he told me I had no business talking to him like that (?!) and that I must have thought I was better than everybody else. I promise you that was not how I felt, especially at that moment.

On a lighter note, schooling on the set was quite a challenge. Because one teacher was responsible for covering all subjects for all school-age people on the show, I would often end up teaching myself lessons in AP calculus, et cetera, which needless to say was less than ideal (especially since I am somewhat – OK, totally – easily distracted and a procrastinator). A lot of times when I would go back to my regular school after filming for a while I would be a week or two behind my classmates and would have to catch up by burning the midnight oil at home (and thus was born my caffeine addiction).

And there are lingering negative effects of my time in the spotlight, things that no one (especially me) would ever anticipate. One particularly unnerving example – a couple of years ago I saw that someone had posted some really mean (and completely baseless) things on my IMDB page – about my parents! That’s where I draw the line – it makes me sad if someone says something disparaging about me or my acting or my show, but it makes me mad if someone unreasonably attacks the character of two of the greatest people I have ever known, my mom and dad. Who does that?!? I succeeded in having the comment removed, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

The Just Plain Weird

Finally, some interesting little tidbits that are neither good nor bad…things that just make you cock your head to the side and say, “Really?!”. First are the odd things that “fans” have said to me in the past…things like, “You know, you really look better on TV,” “I think that other girl on the show is a lot prettier than you,” and “Why are you such an airhead?”. To which I say, respectively, “Uh…thanks,” “Me too,” and “You DO know that the show’s not real, right?” My mom told me I should take it as a compliment that people feel comfortable enough with me to say these things. Maybe just a tad more discomfort would be good.

Another fun aspect of acting is the, oh, let’s say, “colorful” fan mail that one receives (at least, back in the day before email…do people even write honest-to-goodness fan mail anymore? I truly have no idea and am probably dating myself horribly here). A lot of it was wonderful, inspirational, feel-good stuff that made me grateful for having been able to entertain people and make them smile or laugh, even if only for a few minutes. Then there are the letters from prisons. Yep, I was the lucky recipient of quite a few of those, including one guy who specifically requested that I send him a picture of my feet, which I totally did. Not. And there were others who requested, or sent, some questionable items, a bit disconcerting at the age of twelve or thirteen. Even now, there is a harmless but oddly-titled blog called “Lizard Master” that featured a quest to find out what had “happened” to me. Some people clearly have too much free time on their hands. They must not have a toddler and a baby and two dogs and a house and a bird and a husband…or maybe they do, and in order to escape that circus they spend their time cruisin’ the internet trying to discover the whereabouts of 1980’s sit-com best friend characters. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Lastly is some of the ridiculousness that I brought upon myself. Remember way back when, before spray tans were de rigeur and the only brand available came from Thrifty and turned your skin the color of a pumpkin? I decided it was a good idea to douse myself with some of that jazz right before going to the Youth in Film Awards…wearing a tight, white dress and little jacket ensemble (I had an unfortunate affinity for bolero jackets, and had one to match most any outfit). Yep, as soon as I arrived and was standing on the red carpet (at least I think it was red?), flash bulbs popping in my face, the sickly orange gel seeping out of my pores started dripping down the sides of my dress. Uber-classy! Here’s a picture, though I don’t think any of the seepage is showing: (And Luckily for Christina, I have several pictures from that night. Unfortunately I did not get any shots with the orange meltdown. Total bummer)

(Christina, Wendy, and Holly Fields)

(Christina, Billy Jacoby, Wendy, and Brian Austin Green. We went to a lot of events with Brian.)

(Christina, and the editor of TeenBeat Magazine, Wendy)

(Christina, Wendy, and "The Boys")

(Lark Voohries, Mario Lopez, Heather McComb (I think), Christina, Jodi Peterson, Wendy, and Dah-Ve Chodan)

And finally, my all-time personal favorite story took place at Universal Studios, where we filmed our first season. As Jason Marsden wrote about earlier, when not filming, us crazy kids would cruise around the back lot and sometimes the tram rides, getting into harmless trouble. On one such outing, I made the grievous error of trying to ride a bike (which I couldn’t). As me and a couple of castmates careened down a small hill near our studio on our bikes, I veered out of control, totally unable to stop and terrified. I decided it would be a good idea to “slow myself down” by crashing head first into a mobile trailer of dressing rooms. As I lay on the ground in a crumpled mess, nothing but a heap of self-pity and bloodied knees and elbows, a studio tour tram rounded the corner. The tour guide excitedly told the tram passengers that they were fortunate to have an actor-sighting…and then pointed me out, by name, to all 7,000 passengers on board. OK, maybe it was only 100 people or so, but the humiliation factor was legendary.

Read Part III of Christina's guest post!

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Mommy Diffee said...

I love the truth that comes through your writing. It is so very honest yet interesting! I find myself waiting for you to post again LOL

Christina said...

Thank you, Mommy Diffee, you just made my day! :)

TDM Wendy said...

Mommy Diffee-
Totally agree. Could just read and read. She's good like that.

mel @ the larson lingo said...

This are SO much fun to read! I love the "background stories" and hearing about what it was really like back in the day. Great post & great outfits :)