The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the seventeenth in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts.....". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
Judith Hoag
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Judith Hoag clearly wanted to be an actress from a very early age. It was a positive outlet, a way to channel all of that energy. Her 4th grade music teacher said she was "given to histrionics". Her mother called her "Sarah Heartburn".

Judith started doing theater at a small theater in Newburyport Massachusetts. She was only 13 when she started skipping school to go hang out at the theater. Something had to be done so she was enrolled in a Private Performing Arts High School in Natick Mass., called Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts. It was a very positive experience in spite of being "asked to leave". Judith moved to Cambridge Mass. where she became involved in local theater. Finally, it was time to get serious. It was time to move to New York and find out if she could actually make a career out of this. Her mother summed it up one day by asking her "You might be afraid to go, but aren't you more afraid to stay?"

New York was just what she needed. Her first job came to her about a month after she arrived. She was approached by a playwright about doing his new play The Times & Appetites of Toulouse Lautrec . Shortly thereafter she was offered the part of Lotty Bates on the soap opera Loving. Doing a soap was like entering a very strange world; the polar opposite of theater. The work was very challenging. Acting on the small screen was much more internal and subtle. Coming from a theater background where you project to the back of the house, the challenge was to learn a new way to work. Lots of words to memorize each day, lots of blocking and few rehearsals. She recalls her learning curve as being awkward; "yeah I was pretty awful in the beginning..." Her contract ended after a year and a half. Next she decided to try commercials. That proved to be a successful endeavor. Judith has since done dozens of commercials. "Commercials are a really great way to earn money to keep you going in between the film and television jobs. They can also be a lot of fun as it usually involves a lot of improvisation. I've had directors tell me to just play and do whatever I want. That's made this process really appealing. I think commercials get a bad rap, that there's no creativity to them, but I haven't found that to be entirely true. The process of auditioning for them can be tedious but actually doing them can be really fun."

Her film work was beginning to come along. She made her first film A Matter of Degrees which also starred Tom Sizemore and Arye Gross . Her next film was Cadillac Man in which she co-starred with Robin Williams and Tim Robbins. It was during this time that she read for the movie Teenage Ninja Turtles. "I got this movie while I was still shooting Cadillac Man and had to fly off to North Carolina on the weekends. Everyone wondered what kind of strange movie I was off doing. Only Robin had heard of the Ninja Turtles. He had collected all of the comic books and couldn't wait to see the movie. He brought his kids to the premiere and surprised me. The movie ended up being a big hit. I still have a hard time watching that movie... I was never satisfied with how it came out. It lost a lot of it's soul. Elias Koteas, however was brilliant."

Teenage Ninja Turtles opened a lot of doors for Judith and for that she was very grateful. Judith began living bi-coastally around this time and finally the work in Los Angeles outweighed the work in New York so she and her husband, actor Vince Grant (Next Month's Actor Profile Subject), moved to the west coast.

Judith began to shoot a series of Television Pilots. "I've shot eight so far. I am an optimist. I believe that one day I will do a pilot that will actually go!" In the meantime she stays very busy shooting guest starring roles in episodic television. One of her more recent parts was on the X-Files where she was nearly devoured by a cannibalistic mutant. "This work is never boring. I can go from pretending to live one kind of life to another to another to another. It's like a big game of dress- up and make believe. The longer I do this the more fun it gets and the freer I allow myself to be creatively." Judith has also done several Mini-Series and Movies Of The Week.

Bad City Blues and Armageddon are two of her more recent movies and they couldn't be more diametrically opposed. In Bad City Blues Judith played an ex-junkie turned society wife (opposite Dennis Hopper) who pulls off a bank heist and runs off with $5,000,000 in cash. In Armageddon she played a single mother whose dead beat husband (Will Patton) flies off into space and saves the world from a deadly asteroid, "These two movies were so different. Armageddon had a huge budget and was filled with stars and giant trailers. The challenge on that movie was to ignore all of the hierarchy and just get down to the business of telling a story. That's what kept me focused and I think that's why the performance resonated with audiences. With Bad City Blues we had a very small budget. It was a lot of fun for me to be able to be such a wild woman. I'd been playing a lot of mothers and while I was a mother in this story as well, I got to rob banks, jump off of balconies and shoot guns...all while wearing leather!" Judith has studied acting with Diana Castle for the past several years. She calls it her "Anti-Acting" class. "Being in class gives me the opportunity to always be working on something. Musicians practice their instruments every day. An actors instrument is their imagination and it must be played with everyday or else it grows weak"

Peter Strain & Associates
8271 Melrose Ave. Ste. 208
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 782-8910

Judith Hoag's advice to the aspiring actor:

My life is very full. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, a beautiful son and a brand new daughter. I make a good living in a very tough profession and I am grateful everyday that I get to do this. Some actors see it as a grind but I don't. It's your attitude that shapes your life... and your belief. I believe the best is yet to come and I'll be ready for it when it does and in the meantime I am going to enjoy the process.

My advice to new actors is:
Don't be lazy, Go after what you desire. Don't heed the common place advice that is meant to discourage you. If you want it go and get it. Be willing to work hard and be patient Be kind to yourself.

My two favorite quotes are:
"Whatever you think you can do or think you can't do - you're right"
    ~ Henry Ford

"What lies before you and what lies behind you are tiny matters compared to what lies within you."
   ~ Emerson

Judith Hoag's Credits (partial)

Bad City Blues Lead Bad City Pictures/Dir: Michael Stevens
Armageddon Co-Star Thouchstone/Dir: Michael Bay
Suicide, The Comedy Lead Alibi Ent./Dir: Glen Freyer
Acting On Impulse Lead Spectacor Films/Dir: Sam Irvin
Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles Lead Golden Harvest/Dir: Steve Barron
Cadillac Man Co-Star Orion/Dir: Roger Donaldson
A Matter Of Degrees Lead Backbeat Prods/Dir: W.T. Morgan

TELEVISION (selected)
X-Files Guest Star Fox/Dir: Kim Manners
Chicago Hope Guest Star CBS/Dir: Jim Bagdonas
Providence Guest Star NBC/Dir: Randall Zisk
Halloweentown Lead Disney Channel/Dir: Duwayne Dunham
Nothing Sacred (2) Lead ABC NBC/Dir: Scott Lautenan
The Pretender Lead CBS/Dir: Robert Mandel
Nash Bridges Lead Rysher Ent./Dir. NeilAbramson
Solider Of Fortune Guest Star NBC/Dir. David Steinberg
Mad About You Guest Star CBS/Dir. Lee Shallat
The Nanny Guest Star ABC/Dir. Andy Weyman
Roseanne Guest Star CBS
Murder She Wrote (2) Guest Star NBC/Dir. Scott Brazil
Sweet Justice Guest Star HBO/Dir. Ron Wolotsky
Dream On Guest Star NBC/Dir. Barnett Kellman
Boomtown Regular FOX/Dir. Greg Beeman
Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. Guest Star NBC/Dir. Alan Levi
Quantum Leap Guest Star NBC Pilot/Dir. Art Wolfe
Lovers & Other Strangers Regular CBS Pilot/Dir. Allan Arkush
Homicide Regular NBC Pilot/Dir. John Byrum
Murder In High Places Regular NBC/Dir. Waris Hussein
Switched At Birth Lead NBS Mini Series/Dir. Tom Moore
Fine Things Lead ABC Pilot/Dir. Eric Lanneuville
The Knife And Gun Club Regular ABC Pilot/Dir. Rod Holcomb
Wolf Regular CBS Pilot/Dir. Joan Tewkesbury
Elysian Fields Regular ABC
Loving Contract Role

Times & Appetites Of Toulouse-Lautrec Mireille American Place Theatre

Whose Life Is It Anyway? Kay Alley Theatre
Album Peggy Alley Theatre
The Greeks Trojan Slave Williamstown
Vanities Kathy Williamstown
The Shadow Box Agnes Boston Shakespeare Festival

Diana Castle John Bottoms-American Repertory Theatre
Tim Phillips Walnut High School of Performing Arts
Kate Mc Gregor-Stewart
American Repertory Theatre

For more info and credits see IMDb

-- ---End

Archives Madison Mason [September 2000]
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September 2000
Jay Acovone [August 2000]
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August 2000
Richard Riehle [July 2000]
Richard Riehle
July 2000
Charlie Brill [June 2000]
Charlie Brill
June 2000
Edie McClurg [May 2000]
Edie McClurg
May 2000
Miguel Sandoval [April 2000]
Miguel Sandoval
April 2000
Tom Bower [March 2000]
Tom Bower
March 2000
Amy Aquino [February 2000]
Amy Aquino
February 2000
Danny Chambers [January 2000]
Danny Chambers
January 2000
Eve Gordon [December 1999]
Eve Gordon
December 1999
Barbara Niven [November 1999]
Barbara Niven
November 1999
Bill Lucking [October 1999]
Bill Lucking
October 1999
Richard Roundtree [September 1999]
Richard Roundtree
September 1999
Pat Harrington [August 1999]
Pat Harrington
August 1999
Robert Donner [July 1999]
Robert Donner
July 1999

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