My Estée Lauder Moment of Courage

Read this before you begin setting your New Year’s Resolutions for 2015…Maybe it’ll fire you up for a bit of living beyond limits.

An Estée Lauder Moment of Courage

An Estée Lauder Moment of Courage

Back in the early 90’s, we lived not too far from Philadelphia and New York in New Town, Pennsylvania; around the time the movie “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks was being shot.


An outrageously creative and fearless friend of mine, Michele, was one of the few people who knew of my secret past and lust for acting.   I’m  scared to death of it, but I love it anyway, whether I’m any good at it or not.


Of her own accord, Michele started booking me everywhere for auditions and took me to make sure I went. It was actually quite laughable. She even auditioned sometimes; doing what ever it took to make sure I couldn’t back down. We both made fools of ourselves and in the end we had a riot.


I didn’t get one role in “Philadelphia”, “Emergency 911” or a Neil Simon play off Broadway, but I played a brilliantly hilarious “Goldie Locks” stabbing at the limelight.


My feedback: “Not ethnic enough!” “I don’t want to cast her! I want her to run my agency while I go on maternity leave.”  “We’ve tried her next to everyone one of the male leads, but I can’t picture her being married to any of them.”  Luckily we moved to South Africa.


Then one night, “A Few Good Men” with Demi Moore, playing a powerful army solicitor, was on TV. Don’t ask me what got into me, but suffice to say, she inspired me. I was playing my true stubborn idealist self, desperately holding onto the thought that “Dreams really can come true!”. I began telling my husband, that I would have loved a chance to play that role. He of course had no idea I was a closet Scarlett O’Hara and neighborhood director since age six, who could cast or play a princess and fleece a nickel off every parent in the vicinity to see their kids perform. He reminded me that I was living in Africa with two toddlers and couldn’t audition in the morning.


Funny, but I hit the roof. I was livid! My husband was worried his kind reality check was the butt of my anger, but it fact I took on myself. If I was stupid enough to quit before I even got going, then I deserved to fail. I stormed to my room like some pubescent teenager and the next day, I knew I had to channel all that anger into something to be able to prove my point.


I perused the yellow pages because I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get my face on camera or stage, but I had a mission. I began thinking along the lines of video or voice over recording. Then there was my answer; Sono Vision Recording Studios. I phoned while I still had the guts. The receptionist said it was ‘odd’ that I was calling right then, as she normally couldn’t book anything for two months, but just before I called, a person cancelled. She asked if I could come at two o’clock. Fear and perspiration took over. I’d never done anything like this before. Up until now, it was all talk and passion. Then I remembered the anger and focused on it. I thought, “Prove it! Do it!”


“That’s fine”, I said. “Do you have any sample commercial scripts?”



I was there a half an hour early and raced to pick out four varied options, a bank, a t-shirt ad, a bookstore and Estée Lauder’s time zone eyes. I tried to run them through as much as I could before being ushered in.


Two hours later, Jon Van Ass, the producer, handed me a commercial-ready voice over CD. I was higher than a kite on pure adrenaline when he asked me, who I was, and what I wanted to do while living in South Africa. I told him my story. Turns out he’s the owner of SonoVision and passes me the card of a voice agent, who specialized in foreign voices. When I got home, I didn’t say anything. I’d done something huge for me, but I hadn’t gone anywhere yet.


The next day, Mr. Von Ass called me to tell me he had taken a copy of my CD home to his wife. Turns out she’s a top advertising executive and wanted to know if I could come in the next day to record a commercial for CNA (nation wide) Bookstores with a male South African broadcasting star!


Even though it took me hours more to record my part, I got invited back a month later to do a series of three Estée Lauder commercials for one of the largest high-end department stores in the country. Yes, I called my husband each time. And he proudly listen to the radio at 10 am to hear his wife Dorothy of OZ doing her version of “Dreams really do come true,” even in a foreign country.