I quit my job at a legal servicing firm when I was twenty-four to pursue a career in film and television. My very first interview in the business was for a three-week temp assignment assisting a talent manager named Celia Burr, who worked out of a large production office in Beverly Hills. I was nauseous in the lobby while I waited to be taken in to meet her. Having worked in the law, I had been accustomed to a clear understanding of procedure that all parties involved had to follow. I had been warned that in entertainment, all bets were off; every company had its own method for getting the job done. And at the sign of your first mistake, word would get out that you were a disaster, and you’d never find work again.
The manager of the office, Deborah, fetched me from my spot on the sofa and took me through a pass-coded door. From there, she led me down an under-lit hallway lined with other twenty-somethings at outer-office desks, all eyeing me suspiciously, bored faces and cheap shoes. Deborah had a tightly woven perm wrapped around her head like a helmet, and a skirt that extended below her knees. I noticed as she put one leg forward, she added a last-second kick before pulling it back to replace it with the other leg. This move caused her skirt to fire out ahead of her, as if she was clearing a path for herself, and anyone who was smart should get the hell out of the way if they knew what was good for them. Before we had reached the end of the hallway, Deborah had already told me plainly that the company had a very complicated copier machine, that they were heavily financed by investors from Saudi Arabia, and that she was a lesbian and people who had problems with it didn’t last long.