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“The Adventures Of Little Diego - Former Child Star” Chapter 8 - Part 1 of 5, Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What Cha Gonna Do?"
Throughout the decade following High School I took an awful lot of acting classes. I studied with some wonderful teachers. Sy Richardson, Sal Romeo, Sal Dano, Kathryn Daley, Caroline Berry, Michael Shurtleff, Scott Arthur Allen to name a handful. An awful lot of acting classes. Classes with working professional actors. I was feeling very solid in my work during these times.
Actor/Acting Coach Sy Richardson
One of my teachers paid me a very high compliment in saying that even when I was off, I was good, meaning, even if I was having an off day my technique was solid enough that I could still do a good scene. Another one of my teacher’s was so moved by a performance that he gave me a month gratis to attend his class free of charge which he had never done up to that point. If you knew him at all, you knew it was quite a high compliment I was being paid.
It was during this period of time I was really trying to make a living as an actor! Especially after having a taste of other jobs people do to make a living. Acting was a good gig if you could work enough to make a living at it. Despite the accolades from my teachers and classmates I was still unable to make it back into the category of being a consistently working actor. I had to take other odd jobs to supplement my income. I got close on a couple of occasions having been cast in a re-curing role on a new series. Unfortunately, the show got cancelled by the network after just a handful of episodes. I also came very close to landing a contract role on a Soap which I will go into greater detail later, but no cigar as the saying goes.
I used to run into actor Blair Underwood at a lot of my auditions. He and I were similar types. I had even auditioned and got called back by the producers for the movie Krush Groove. It was for the role that Blair was eventually cast. This turned out to be Blair’s film debut. A pivotal moment in his career.
It’s impossible to know how my life might now be different if I had gotten cast in that role or landed the contract role on the Soap. Blairs a great guy as well as a very talented actor and I got nothin’ but love for the brother!
Many years later I ran into Blair at a party where I was working as a caterer. He was nice enough to come up to me and tell me how much he’d enjoyed my work on the “Julia” show. It was an anniversary party Ebony magazine was throwing honoring celebrities that had graced the cover of the magazine over the years. Diahann Carroll and Blair were just two of the many celebrities in attendance who had graced the magazines cover over the years.
Diahann Carroll Ebony Magazine Cover
I had been on the Ebony magazine cover as well.
Marc Copage Ebony Magazine Cover With Johnny Brown
"Julia" Ebony Magazine Cover
But this evening I was working the Ebony magazine anniversary party as a caterer not an invited guest. My job for the evening was to make sure the guests were taken care of and properly served and to clean up after them.
I guess Ebony Magazine was saying, “But what have you done for me lately?”
Blair had wanted me to go over to Diahann’s table and say hello, but I was working the event and I don’t think my 20 something year old bosses would have appreciated my doing that. There’s a strong company policy against fraternizing with the guests and I needed the gig. My bosses were far too young to remember the “Julia” show and quite frankly would have cared less that I played her son on the show for three years.
Diahann Carroll, Marc Copage Magazine Cover
I’m not sure if Blair remembered that I used to run into him on auditions or not. We never actually spoke back then, but I remember seeing him on a couple of my auditions and seeing his name on sign in sheets. There were many other Black celebrities in attendance at the Ebony Magazine party as well. Some that I could tell recognized me. And they were within the demographics of the folks that would remember the show. I tried to avoid making eye contact with any of them. I preferred to just do my job and call it an evening.