Enter Actor

Yesterday, in one of my alt-personalities, I spent the day being an actor. While seldom a topic in my writing, this gig deserved a post. However, unlike my younger friends, it didn’t occur to me to snap any photos on my cell phone; 1. because I was playing a senior; and 2. because I am a senior.

But truth is, I’ve rarely shot photos when I’m on a film shoot: there are cameras in so many directions, front, side, several movie cameras rolling and still shots shooting, it hardly seems necessary for more.

The coolest thing, (besides being able to work as a professional actor, which I have been since 1979, professional in that’s when I joined the Screen Actors Guild although I’d been a nonprofessional since grade school), was I learned about a really cool program being developed in Kansas.

My role was that of a rural Kansas woman with two morbidity diseases (meaning, I learned, two diseases that could lead to sudden death i.e. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease) and who was some distance away from health care practitioners. She wasn’t Ma Kettle if that’s what you’re thinking. Rather, one of many people in Kansas, especially seniors, who often still live on their farms or in small towns with no hospital.

Here’s the program, developed by KU Med Center on the Kansas side of Kansas City: it teaches rural people how to use a digital tablet to contact a health care practitioner for regular, live checkups, including checking their medications, a nurse-practitioner trained in remote care to listen to complaints, address concerns, give dietary and exercise information, and a way to get help immediately. The company setting up this program with KU Med even provides a portable receiver and trains the seniors how to use the remarkably simple tablet.

The representative of the company told me they have also partnered with several smaller hospitals throughout Kansas.

With all the who-ha about the Affordable Health Care debate, this is a valuable digital outreach. I’m probably somewhat biased because K.U. Med is our health care provider and I appreciate their Complementary Medicine department (I don’t take meds and rely on complementary medicine).

Okay. Enough about them. Now about me :). As always, I had a great time. While I’ve worked on stage and did for many years, I much prefer working in film. There’s less drama. No one yells, you’re a team, everyone says thank you often, and voices are calm. I realize there are difficult film directors and crazy film actors, but I’ve not had that experience.

The other cool thing about yesterday was I learned they chose me for this woman struggling with her health for another reason: they’d seen my reel on my agent’s site. A reel, for those who don’t know, is a short film with clips from several of an actor’s projects.

So, since this is an intro to a piece of my life you probably know little about, here’s a link to my most recent reel on Talent Unlimited, my acting agency for years. When you click on that link, you’ll arrive at my home page; in the middle of the page, there’s a link that says DEMO REELS. Click on that. There’s four scenes from four different projects. You’ll notice I play old women often… or rather, always. One of my most favorite ever roles is the last one on this clip. Still makes me laugh.

And I’m still working. I will be the Judy Dench nobody’s ever heard of. Except you. And at the end of the day, like all working seniors, I was plumb tuckered out.



22 thoughts on “Enter Actor

      1. I can imagine. πŸ™‚ It must be quite a sensation, to give life to a character, “someone” who is not you but to whom you give your face, your voice, your moves…

      2. I had to think about your comment below. It is interesting to give life to someone who isn’t you. And at the same time, is you. Sometimes it takes a lot of digging. The craft, especially in film, demands honesty, so training (and I’ve had a bit) teaches an actor to find that reality inside her/himself. In other words, while an accent from another country or region might have to be learned, the energy and development of the character has to come from within an actor.
        It’s not so different from honest writing really. In order to write well, we have to find the reality inside ourselves.

  1. OH MY !!! I had to go back and double check whether I had got the site right and whether it was really you … and it IS INDEED the Janet Sunderland that I know. What a fascinating life you live lady .. so many many exciting hats you put on. and so talented. brought to mind that ‘(wo)man fully alive is the glory of God.’ Keep up the enthusiasm in all areas. Loved the reel … and the bio
    And was reminded that you are in Kansas. Will be visiting States soon and coming fairly close to you …but not close enough (over-nighting in Memphis) or I would have loved to meet you.
    TC and best in all your undertakings.

    1. Thank you so much, Rose. I have had some wonderful experiences…I’m grateful for that.
      Oh, it would be fabulous to have you visit. If plans change and you drift a bit farther westerly, let me know. You’d always have a place to stay.
      Thank you for the quote. I remember it. And thank you for wanting to ascribe it to me. You are very kind.

      1. Gives a warm feeling that you would open your doors to me πŸ™‚ and I thank you for . Would really have loved to detour to meet you but some childhood friends are waiting for us in Austin -flying in from LA too – and I will be struck off the ‘gang’ if I don’t get there early.
        Maybe I will be favoured with another opportunity sometime. Best

      2. I Love Austin, lived there for a while, and it’s where I earned my union card into SAG.
        Have a great time. Austin is directly south of Kansas City. We went down a couple years ago to a poetry festival and sleepy Austin town has grown into a huge city with tall buildings. And a lot of traffic!
        If you remember, eat at Pecan Street Cafe. Best pecan pie in town. And Threadgills has traditional Texas food (pecan crusted fried chicken…mercy) and good music. Both restaurants are Austin classics. 6th Street is pretty shoddy now, but oh, well.

  2. Thanks for this post, Janet. It is informative and a nice glimpse into your many lives. I see in your Bio that you got your MA at St. John’s in Santa Fe. I have a good friend who got his BA there in the mid-90s.

    The KU medical program seems like a good plan for remote Health Care. I hope that they can continue to provide services for their patients on a 24/7 basis. I know how stranded a person can feel when they are many miles from efficient medical care.

    1. Thanks, Allan. Actually, my grad degree is from the mid-90s also, 1995 to be exact. I knew a few of the undergraduates but not many. We all went to the dances and learned to waltz, at least I think we all did. We were all in common rooms or plays or special lectures, the library, but for the most part, it was pretty segregated, undergrads in one set of classrooms, graduate students in others. The undergraduate degree is more comprehensive in that they had a whole year of one or another section while we had semesters, but it was a great place for me. I’d read all my life and St. John’s gave me the foundation of Western thought which put much of my past reading into context. And I fell in love with Goethe’s writing, oddly enough, and argued in the religion section! Augustine, I said (and read a LOT of) was what was wrong with Christianity today. That did not go over particularly well with the tutor, as I recall. LOL!

      As for the medical part of your comment, I was impressed with what this young company is doing. And from what little I learned, it does seem like it’s a 24-7 service along with the regular check up appointments. And of course, a lot cheaper for hospitals than sudden emergencies and ambulance calls. Thanks for thinking about it and for your response.

  3. What fun this must be. It’s always nice to get a glimpse “backstage,” if you will. I suspect this is refreshing for you, just because it’s so much fun. At least, I imagine it as fun — most of the time!

    1. It is fun! And I don’t have to think of the words LOL. They already thought them up for me. It’s long hours on the set but it’s such a supportive environment that while tiring, it’s also sort of addictive having that much praise. The other cool thing about film making is dropping into a different level of being than might be the usual day to day life. i.e. you get to be someone you’re not!

    1. You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hadn’t thought about it before this post, but not many really know this other part of my life except for the film community. And my family, of course. But it’s a long and treasured part.

    1. I’ve seen the film, it’s a short, but haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy although I have asked several times. But film people, even ones with the DVD, are busy off on other projects right away and oh, yea, they’ll find it and get it to me when they’re back in town, but …. well, memory is tricky. Maybe some day. I’ll let you know!

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