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We have a "Special Gift"

A Personal Perspective: LA New Member Orientation Guest Speaker Michele Lee

Pictured LA New Members with Special Guest Michele Lee 2nd row, second from left; Front row kneeling: Equity Staff Ivan Rivas, Mary Lou Westerfield, Richard Ostlund

Tony and Emmy Award nominee, Michele Lee, was the guest speaker at the Los Angeles New Member Orientation held on Wednesday April 7th, 2010 at Actors' Equity Association's Hollywood office.

Michele shared the story of how she joined the union. Her first audition was in 1960 at the Ivar Theatre, located five blocks from the current location of the Los Angeles Actors' Equity office (four blocks away from her star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame). She told the New Members how at age 17 (after being warned by her father that she needed to prepare herself for rejection if she intended to pursue an acting career) she went to her first audition. With nerves of steel Michele took to the stage at the Ivar Theatre and belted out the Frank Sinatra standard, "You Make Me Feel So Young." She was hired on the spot, earning her first Equity contract. What did she learn from the experience? That she possessed a special gift - and from that moment forward, she would be part of the theatre community. Michele told attendees they now have that in common; because for whatever reason and by whatever means, each and every one of them had earned their Equity card and will forever be part of the theatre community.

Michelle received Tony Award nominations for her work in SEESAW and THE TALE OF THE ALLERGISTS WIFE and achieved fame on Broadway at the age of 19 in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING in the role of "Rosemary", a role she reprised in the film version. Recent theatre credits include the title characters in MAME at the Hollywood Bowl, and HELLO DOLLY at Kansas City Starlight. She received an Emmy Award nomination and won multiple Soap Opera Digest Awards for her television work in "Knots Landing" and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 19, 1998.

The event was sponsored by the Western Region Membership Education Committee, Ned Schmidtke, Chair. New Members were welcomed by Member Ed Committee Members, Equity Councillors and Staff. Business Representative, Ivan Rivas, provided the New Members with information about the privileges and responsibilities of Equity Membership. Also giving presentations were representatives from The Actors Fund and The Actors Federal Credit Union.

The New Members engendered many thoughtful and pertinent questions. And a great time was had by all! After the event, attendee Rachel Bailit e-mailed "I am still riveted with excitement from the new member orientation today! Your staff was so friendly, personal, informed and welcoming! Thank you for answering my many questions. I feel like I have a strong new family backing me! Your staff made it a very special day."

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