From Fresno to Hollywood

November 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The glamour of Hollywood may seem like it's a world away from the central valley, but some local actors and models are finding it's really a short drive, and well worth the trip.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For guidelines, you can check the websites of the two biggest performers unions:
www.sag.org
www.aftra.org
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You may not know her, but if you watch TV you've probably seen Lauren Hastings, a model and actress. She's done dozens of commercials most recently, Geico, "I'm the cave-mans girlfriend. It's kind of cool," says Lauren.

Lauren's from Clovis, she's 24, and her career started 12 years ago, just 3 weeks after her mom entered her photo in a modeling contest at Fashion Fair Mall. Lorie Hastings, Lauren's Mom, says "I kind of knew she was going to be successful when she went out for her first three auditions and booked those jobs. Pretty amazing for us."

As she got older, the ads, and her work got bolder. A big break into TV came when she was picked to play a Brittney Spears lookalike in the Justin Timberlake video, "Cry Me a River." She recalls the audition. "And I finally got in there and they asked, 'Would you make out with Justin Timberlake' and I'm like, yeah," recalls Lauren.

Lauren's been linked romantically with Actor Shia LeBouf. She says they're just friends and is enjoying life. "Oh yeah, absolutely. It's fun. I get to live in LA, Brentwood and go to castings some days, and some days I get to do nothing and relax and be me. It's kind of cool," says Lauren.

Another local actor who's found success in Hollywood is Aaron Hill. He's appeared in more than 20 network TV shows and he's currently a regular on "Greek" now in its second season on the ABC Family Channel.

It's a show about life in a college fraternity. He plays the character called "Beaver." "Beaver is a big lovable goof ball. I get to show up for work every day and just be me, but dumber for the most part," says Aaron.

Aaron is 25. He got his start while still a football player at Clovis High. He was cast in the 2003 ABC TV series "Lost at Home." But, the show was cancelled after just 8 episodes. Aaron found his way back home, lost 125 pounds and gave Hollywood another try. "The long and the short of it all is it's a roller coaster ride," says Aaron.

Aaron's on an uphill ride right now. In addition to Greeks, he's in the middle of shooting two major motion pictures; Transformers 2, and Warriors, about a Lacrosse team. "It's a lot of fun, there's a lot of perks but it's also a lot of work."

His parents are understandably proud. Karen Hill, Aaron's Mom, says "I think it's really neat that he's getting a chance to do what he loves to do and getting paid for it."

Joe Hill, Aaron's Dad, says "That decision to stick with it, keep on going had to come within himself and I'm glad he chose to see it through."

Our young actors don't have stars on the walk of fame, but they've already beaten the odds, they're working in Hollywood, pursuing a dream and making a living.

Fresno casting consultant Carollyn DeVore helped Aaron get his start and helps aspiring local actors of all ages get into TV and Movies. "They all start somewhere, and if you're consistent and have that drive you can do it."

But anyone who tries this business must be ready for rejection. "It's hard hearing no. Or, you're not the right look, or gain ten pounds, or lose ten pounds. It's very cut throat," says Lauren.

And while Lauren and Aaron are doing it, few actors can actually support themselves by acting alone. But, for those who want to try, Hollywood's just down the road. "You can drive the 3 and a half, four hours, come down for an audition, and you can make it work," says Aaron.

While those two young actors may make it look easy, acting in TV commercials or shows is extremely competitive. Not everyone will succeed.

If you're considering an agent, make sure they are licensed by the state.

For guidelines, you can check the websites of the two biggest performers unions; the SAG, Screen Actors Guild, or AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

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