If you guys can’t tell, I am the queen of the most RANDOM stories on the planet. I’m a people magnet – like for real for real … kinda trips me out actually. But alrite, this is one of my favorite stories on how SMALL OF A TOWN LA is. Like SERIOUSLY small … seriously … seriously … seriously … small.
So, I moved to LA in 2004, and I didn’t have a job, just had ambition of working in entertainment – but still kinda unsure of exactly what role I wanted to play in it. Social media was still in incubation – but fortunately, I had AOL. I knew NOOOO ONNNNNEEE when I moved here. I mean like no one, no one. I found my roomies from craigslist, and just threw myself at this town when I was 19. Hey, I had nothin’ to lose!
<tangent> totally forgot to give a song with this post!! hold on, this just played on Pandora, UGHHH!! LOVE LOVE LOVE NKTOB!!! </tangent>
Either way, since I was too young to go out to bars, I found myself many of nights on the computer browsing local chats on AOL. I forget what room exactly I was in, but I wound up striking up this conversation with this duderino whose family owned this pretty successful temp agency.
::red font:: RADD!!!! Can you get me an interview?
::blue font:: Sure no prob!
I go in, and tell them about my computer knowledge. They then made me perform a series of tests – and bam! Just like that, I passed.
UGH! Those tests are super annoying too because all of their programs were out of date. HAHAHA! So you get like 2 chances to answer correctly on WordPerfect circa 1997, and Word version 1.0. High-larious. I can do this in my sleep – anything online … offline … I dunno, computers were one thing I always just “got!”
Either way, a couple days later I get a call asking if I was available to be in Santa Monica that morning. Sure! I thought, who’s the job for?
Oh. Um. Yes please!
Later that day I worked my first temp job in Los Angeles at Jerry Bruckheimer’s office (read more about that here).
I decided once my assignment was over to not take a job with Jerry (as insane as that sounds). I can’t describe it, I just looked around at the faces of the people that worked there and knew I didn’t belong. They were hustlers, they were movers and shakers, they all had their toothbrush in their pen holder – but at the time that wasn’t me. I was SOOOOOO new, I knew I wouldn’t survive in that environment, and it wasn’t for me. Again, as INSANE as that sounds!!! I always always always go with my gut. I didn’t belong there.
I went back to the agency later that week, and they told me they had an exciting new job opportunity. WAHOO!!!
What would I be doing? I said to one of the managers.
It’s an interesting assignment, that would be right for the right person. Discretion with this job is of the utmost importance.
My interest peaked.
Who’s this job for?
My naive Nelly eye lashes still batting – who is Richard Lovett?
He is the President of CAA, Jen. They are one of, if not the most powerful entertainment agency in the world.
Oh, I said feeling like a complete idiot, but attempting to not let it show.
Richard has tapes that he carries around with him all day, and he needs someone to transcribe those tapes and keep fresh ones in his recorder at all times. This is a 24/7 job for someone hungry, and for someone wanting to learn the true “ins and outs” of this town. His last assistant broke her wrist, and he needs someone relatively soon (remember that bit). But it needs to be the right fit.
I’m hungry (both literally and figuratively) and I want to learn the ins and outs of this town, I thought. Sure! Where do I sign up?
Well, you’re not just going to get an interview. It’s a process. We are going to have to run background checks, and also we have to give you a series of typing exams.
Background checks and typing exams? Dude, I am so gonna get this, I thought. I never even got a detention in high school, and have you ever seen me, or I should say, hear me type??? I’ve been typing over 100 words per minute since I was barely double digits, and I have really really really good accuracy as well. Dudes, I started typing when I was 2. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I would look at my Pound Puppy book, and stare at my mom on the computer and think, there are letters up there … and there are letters in this book. I can copy this book by pushing those letters.
Hours and hours and hours I should have spent outside as a kid, I spent on a computer typing away.
I now knew I was preparing myself since literally the womb for this moment.
I’d love to be considered for the position. When can I take the tests?
He scheduled me to come in later that week to begin the series of exams. It had to be on their computers, and I had to be monitored while I was doing it.
I returned to the agency later that week COOOOOLLLLLL as a cucumber. Like cooler than a cucumber … like I was a dilled pickle flipping a nickel.
They sit me down at the computers and pull up a relatively standard typing test. It was a solid block that I had to retype out, and they graded you on speed and accuracy.
I began typing … only … I typed too fast for the program.
FAIL appeared on the screen.
I kid you not when I say that I malfunctioned the typing test. I actually typed faster than the program could keep up with. It was HORRIBLE!!! I wound up with an F.
Mind you too, this was pre- the big social media boom. I was typing on super old machines, on super old programs … It was REDIC how out of date all their stuff was, but regardless – I wound up with an F.
I showed it to the manager.
Dude, I just type too fast!!!! That chickadee (the monitor) saw!!! I did type it accurately, it was just 10 or 15 words behind my typing. I almost begin to cry not wanting to miss an opportunity like this.
It’s okay, let’s just do it again.
I begin the exam, the manager watches.
Less than 5 minutes later – deja vu.
FMMMMLLLLLLL I thought.
Wow, you type fast. He looks at the screen – and it’s accurate.
Okay, you’re ready.
They then went in and ran a background check on me, followed by two follow up interviews one of which was with the head of the temp agency. We covered things like what I should highlight in my background, and even what type of outfit and shoes I should wear to the interview.
Wow, this is nuts!! I know this dude is a big deal, I thought – but man, if this is just the interview process, what is the job going to be like?
A few more days went by before I heard anything from the agency. My roomie and I went down to the Santa Monica Pier for something, and wound up crashing the Spiderman 2 after party. (hahaha no joke, I’ve actually crashed a lot of things in my life. But the studio shut down the rides and games, and all the stars and what not were just walking around the amusement park. It was GREAT! I pegged little bean bag thingies with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, and even have a pic with Jamie Foxx somewhere on the interwebz. He wasn’t very nice. I got excited because he was from In Living Color. HAHAH. Who knew Ray was coming out a few months later.)
Either way, I remember thinking that night after I stayed out at the premier super super super late, that watch!! Tomorrow morning, I am going to get a call from the temp agency. They are going to KNOW that I’ve stayed out this late … just watch.
5 hours later, at 8:30 like clockwork … ::ring ring ring:: goes the ringtone on my purple trimmed motorola flip phone.
I questioned whether or not to answer it. I don’t want to do a temp job today … I’m so tired … ugh, fuck, rent. I need to make money.
I open the phone and try and sound perky – HELLO?!
Wow, that’s scary, not perky … tone it down Jen.
Hey Jen! Got a job for you today if you’re interested.
Sure, where is it? Wilshire and Fairfax area. It’s for two movie marketing houses (one did movie posters, the other did trailers), they just need someone to answer phones. Sit and answer a phone for 8 hours and make part of my rent? Yes please!
I arrived shortly after 9am, and I can’t begin to describe the feeling I had there … I had found “home.”
The office manager came down, and was SERIOUSLY one of the nicest people on the planet. She explained everything to me, I already knew their phone system – so that was a breeze. Minor adjustments here and there for personal preferences were of course made, but totally a snap.
And dudes, the best part about this job? THERE WAS A RADIO!!!!!!!!!
I got to sit and listen to music ALL day, and get paid for it. ARE YOU FOR REALLLL?????!!!!!! This is my definition of heaven.
After my first day, I was asked back … and asked back … and asked back … I wound up staying there for a solid week before I got another call from the agency.
So, how’s it going over there, Jen?
AMAZING!!!! I love it, I get to putz around on the computer, and I can listen to music ALL DAY!!!
That’s great! Sure sounds like a good fit!
I have some news for you on the Richard Lovett position. They’d like for you to come in for a meeting next week if that works for you.
I thought about it, and said, what about this job here?
You mean you’d turn down the job with Richard to work in movie marketing? Why?
I like it here! It’s kinda like a little family. I understand and appreciate this amazing opportunity that you guys have for me, but something is clicking here, and I don’t know what that means – but can you find out if they are looking for someone permanent here.
Jen, he said sternly, you understand what you are turning down? Richard. Lovett.
Yes, I said curt and confident. Dudes, I really like listening to music.
A day or two later, I was formally offered the position as the receptionist of both movie marketing houses, and wound up staying there for 2 years. It didn’t have to make sense to the temp agency why I was doing what I was doing, I knew emotionally I wasn’t prepared to know not a single soul in this town, AND have to swim with the sharks working for someone so powerful so early. Dude, Richard would have eaten me alive. I was still getting used to the ebb and flow of the city. I was so young, and so naive, I knew my limits, and my soul knew what I needed … and that was here, working in marketing.
Best. Decision. Ever.
Had it not been for that job, I kid you not, I don’t know if I would have been able to survive those first few months in LA. I was terribly lonely, unbelievably scared, and needed the constant of a family like environment.
So, kinda a cute story right? But it’s just getting started. mwahahahahaahah … this is a story of how small of a world this town is. Not the story of how I got started in LA.
I stayed at Bemis Balkind and Insync Advertising for 2 years. Loved loved loved those people. Like seriously … Peter Bemis was like a dad to me, and I started out as the receptionist, and ended up leaving the assistant to the vice president. Not a bad gig for a nerdy chick that didn’t know anyone!! DUDESS!! I loved editing trailer scripts! So so so much fun!!!! And it amazes me just how many copies have to go into a single trailer presentation. Literally hundreds for the studio to pick a few. Insane in the membrane.
K … so that happened … but then I left to go work for Verizon. About a year and a half later, I was briefly dating Jayce from the Lifetime Movie “She Fought Alone” aka David Lipper … aka this duderino …
He also played Viper in Full House (see here) …
and starred in the Texas Cadet Murder …
<tangent> OMG OMG OMG you had me at you were in a movie with Tiffany Amber Theissen!! Are you kidding me?!?! My goal in life in moving out to Los Angeles was to be Kelly Kapowski!!!!!
Was I a bit of a fangirl? ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY!! And he loved it. =)
Actually, he was the one that made the move on Myspace first with a sexy sexy comment on one of my Myspace photos.
So yeah, we dated for a minute in July of that year … and it so happened to be his birthday month. He invited me to be his date at his birthday dinner.
The dinner wound up being a bit of a bust. It was GREAT to meet his friends, but I was in a weird mood, and also feeling a bit weird and socially awkward around so many new people. All of his friends were female, and a handful of them were shooting me daggers. I just felt … uncomfortable.
Half way through the dinner, this girl came in and sat down directly across from me.
I stared at her wondering if she was going to be like the rest. She was super super super pretty, ugh! She must be a bitch.
She opens her mouth and extends her hand.
Hi, I’m Shabana.
Hi Shabana, I’m Jen.
We start talking … and we TOTALLY hit if off. GIRL CRUSH ALERT!! GIRL CRUSH ALERT!!!
Where do you work, she said.
I’m a sales rep for Verizon indirect. What about you?
I’m just working for this crowd in Century City doing general office work. But a few years ago, I got to work at CAA. That was a great job, but a bit crazy.
That’s nuts! A few years ago I was up for this job being a transcriptionist for Richard Lovett. It seemed like a really intense job … 24 hours a day … 7 days a week … the guy said that the chick before me too broke her arm, and they were looking for someone on the fly.
She then lowers her bare arm down on the table. A scar the length of her forearm visible.
Oh you mean this broken arm? Jen, that was me – that was my job. I hit a tree.
Needless to say, we’ve stayed very good friends over the years.
And back in March, I got to tell that story to the TV department at CAA, and they DIIIEEEEEDDDD laughing. They’re like, that’s INSANE!! And I said yeah, but welcome to Los Angeles. The smallest, big, town, ever.
LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU SHABANA!!! XOXOXOOXOXOXO
PS. ANNNDDD if you want to top this off even more … in 2005, my dad reached out to his old college roommate asking if he had any contacts in LA (protective papa). He said that he did, his friend’s son Steve was cousins with an agent at CAA. Amazing my dad thought! He got Steve’s email addy, and later that week Steve and I connected. Really really really nice guy. We then started hanging out, and he introduced me to his other cousin Noelle, she and I hit if off like gangbusters, and at the time she was living with Tracy (the agent at CAA), and Tracy took us all out to dinner at the Ivy in Santa Monica.
Dudes, you should see how beautiful this woman is …
And she’s super super super down to Earth, with SERIOUSLY the most insanely beautiful clothing ever!!!
Point of the story: LA is the Smallest. Town. Ever. Keep your head down, work really really really hard, and follow your gut. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you now, when you look back – it all will just “click.”