When my daughter was three, she wanted to be a doctor. As a Jewish mother, I couldn’t have been prouder. But then, last summer, I took her to the set where we were filming an episode of Notes From the Underbelly (which STILL does not have an air date), and ever since then she’s wanted to be a movie star. Not an actress, mind you, but a movie star. It’s my own fault, of course, for ever introducing her to that world. I thought it would be fun for her to see it, and frankly, I wanted everyone to meet the child who had inspired my loathing of pregnancy and infants.
They were filming on location, at the beach in Santa Monica, right next to a park that is in the middle of the sand. We played in the park for a bit, and then I introduced her to a bunch of the crew members, and I took her over to the craft services table, which was loaded with donuts and candy and cookies and lemonade. But she didn’t seem all that interested, really. She goes to the park and the beach all the time, and it’s not like I’m such a great mother that candy and cookies are a rarity in her life. Let’s just say that she didn’t come away from the experience wanting to be a grip, or a production coordinator, although the wardrobe lady did pique her interest.
Next I took her over to meet the director, Barry Sonnenfeld, and she was slightly more excited about him because I think she could tell that he was important, and also because he was wearing purple cowboys boots and a big, white, cowboy hat. She sat in the director’s chair and watched a few takes from the video screens that were set up, and Barry told her that on the next scene, she could yell Action!, which she never actually got to do because we were in the bathroom when they shot the next scene, and then they broke for lunch, and we had to leave for her swimming lesson. (Which then caused a massive tantrum in the car - “I missed my shot, mommy. Why were they moving on?” – but that’s another story). But still, intriguing as Barry was, she never said a word about wanting to be a director.
And then I brought her over to meet the actresses – they were shooting a scene in which the lead character, Lauren, is trying to decide whether or not to quit her job now that she’s pregnant, and her friend, Julie, who doesn’t work, has brought her to the beach in the middle of the day to try to convince her that she should – and they were wearing pretty sundresses and sparkly sandals and big, floppy, pretty hats, and the makeup people kept coming over to them to fix their lipstick, or their bronzer, and they looked pretty and girly, and princess-y, and everything that my daughter aspires to be. And that was it. On the way home from her swimming lesson, she was uncharacteristically quiet, and then out of nowhere she asked me if I could sign her up for movie star lessons. I told her that I would, and she smiled, and then she was quiet again. A few minutes later, she asked me if boy movie stars wear feather boas, too. I told her that no, they don’t, and I gave up even trying to imagine what the hell was going on in that little head of hers.
Meanwhile, six months later, she still wants to be a movie star. I’ve enrolled her in a cute acting class at her preschool, and now all she talks about are props and characters and places, everybody! I keep telling her that girls can be anything – girls can be doctors, girls can be lawyers, girls can be executives of huge, Fortune 500 companies, girls can be President! But she just looks at me and shakes her head. Silly mommy, she says. I want to be a movie star, you know that. And then she looks at herself in the mirror and blows a kiss to her imaginary fans.