Hollywood endings start with humble first jobs

TVC E. Despite their current world of glamor, not everyone with a Hollywood ending grew up in glitz. For the latest installment of Reuters’ “First Jobs” series, we talked to a few of those who have triumphed about their decidedly non-Hollywood first gigs.

Jay Roach

Director, “Austin Powers” films; “Meet the Parents”

First job: Bed delivery

“For two summers I drove a truck around New Mexico delivering beds. It was for a company called Sleep World, and I think the slogan was, ‘For a good night’s sleep and all the rest!'”

“I was paid $2.10 an hour back then, and I was only 16 or 17. I had to drive a five-ton cube truck around to places like Santa Fe and Taos and Los Alamos, and many times I was sent out alone.

“I had never really been alone before, and I remember that job taught me it was okay to be alone. I would keep awake by singing out loud, or telling stories to myself. It was kind of a weird rite of passage, to be driving around a big empty state with all these crazy beds.

“I still consider it my fallback career.”

Anthony Hemingway

Director, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” “Treme”

First job: Burger-flipper

“My very first job was at a fast-food restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina. I was working illegally at the age of 13. I knew I was too young to work, but I was determined to make it happen because several of my closest friends worked there and I wanted to join them.

“Even though I was hired, every day my manager would ask me for my birth certificate. I used every excuse in the book to not produce any documents, and eventually I ran out of excuses. I was not allowed to come back without my birth certificate, so I never went back to work only to pick up my paycheck.”

Courtney Kemp

Writer and producer, “The Good Wife,” “Power”

First job: Barnes & Noble

“My first real, regular job was working at a Barnes & Noble. I started there when I was 15 in Westport, Connecticut, and worked there until the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college.

“I worked all different departments and ended up as cash wrap supervisor. I even had a key, and was a manager at 19. I was getting a 30 percent discount on books, and I love books!”

Chris Harrison

Host, “The Bachelor,” “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”

First job: Sanding floors

“I was on the sand-and-finish crew of French-Brown Floors in Dallas. I had to hold a 75-pound edger machine just off the floor, with a bent back, all day long and all in 100-degree weather. It was not great for my 17-year-old back. In fact it was possibly the worst job you could have in the summer in Texas.

“I worked with two guys: One was an ex-convict who carried a gun, and the other smoked copious amounts of weed. I remember thinking, I need to stay in college and get my degree because I can’t spent the rest of my life driving around in a van with these guys.

“At first, since I was a newbie, they had me cutting and grooving pieces of wood in a warehouse all day long. My biggest fear was that after eight hours of sweaty work, I would accidentally cut my arm off with the band-saw.

“Later on, at a construction site, I actually dug ditches with a pickaxe. So nowadays when I say ‘Hey guys, we’re not digging ditches here,’ I actually know what I am talking about. I am very grateful to be working in an air-conditioned studio, or to be on a beach in Hawaii shooting this silly show.”


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