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Like me, you probably saw the video compilation of celebrities singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” in response to the global pandemic. Of course, in very quick fashion the video was parodied as people reacted against another example of an out-of-touch Hollywood. Americans have become all too familiar with celebrities making shallow gestures toward the people across this country that they usually hold in contempt.
But during a recent conversation with a longtime friend who works in the entertainment industry, she expressed concern that if the coronavirus shutdown goes on too long, they won’t be able to make their monthly housing payment.
It was a reminder that Hollywood, just like the rest of the country, is filled with support and service work positions. Jobs that you can’t do from home. Like millions of others, these are the folks that run the risk of suffering the most from the economic fallout of COVID-19.
As a child actor, I had the amazing opportunity to grow up in the entertainment industry, moving from Colorado to California to pursue my dream.
My acting career brought me name recognition through playing the eldest son, Brad, on the hit series “Home Improvement.” I later moved on to acting in other TV shows like “E.R.” and “Cold Case,” and played roles in various feature films like “The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift” and starred opposite Gerard Butler in “The Games of Their Lives.”
Needless to say, I received a unique and invaluable education. Although I saw firsthand the elitist and cutthroat nature of Hollywood that it’s known for, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some amazing people. They are everyday Americans who come from all over the country to pursue their dreams in entertainment. These people are the engine that makes Hollywood run.
While A-list celebrities can’t help using their award show speeches to mock anyone that doesn’t hold to their elitist views, the dirty little secret is that they represent the elite 1 percent of Hollywood. The rest of the people in the entertainment industry are everyday folks living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make a living wage.
I’m passionate that during an unprecedented crisis like we are seeing with COVID-19, the hardworking folks of Hollywood don’t get forgotten or dismissed with the celebrities and their feel-good video compilations.
These celebrities would all benefit from moving from in front of the camera to behind it. I know because I experienced that firsthand, transitioning from actor to the launch of my own production company, Lost Lane Entertainment. That change has given me the opportunity to work behind the scenes with the Americans who are in the trenches.
It’s a great privilege for me, as someone who came from middle America, to create alongside those who work hard to care for their families and pursue their dreams. These are the men and women who come in at dawn and are still there hours after dusk when the celebrities and their entourages have left.
Like Americans in any other industry, they are the backbone of Hollywood, the ones who make sure things get done.
That’s why I’m passionate that during an unprecedented crisis like we are seeing with COVID-19, the hardworking folks of Hollywood don’t get forgotten or dismissed with the celebrities and their feel-good video compilations.
I understand if you get frustrated during times like this with the political statements or tone-deaf actions of the celebrities. I do, too.
But please be sure to separate the 1 percent of Hollywood from the 99 percent that represents the hardworking, everyday Americans who, like everyone else across this amazing country, are scared about losing their job, figuring out how to provide for their family and cheering on all the people who are at battle with this unseen enemy.