Member Connections

Members are sharing their stories of coping with "Safer at Home" mandates. New stories will be added at the top of this page frequently.

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Debby Vigna

A lot to think about in this strange new world.

I woke up in the middle of the night, listening to the steady rain falling on the roof above us. Forgetting for a moment how suddenly different our lives have become. My second thought was perhaps this was a gift during this foreboding time, one less shortage to be concerned about as we worry of hospital beds, access to food and for some odd reason toilet paper.

We are clearly being forced to push the pause button on our society and on our very way of life. Gifting us more time perhaps…time to think, time to walk in nature, time to dust off those board games and spend more quality time with our family, time to read a good book, time to reach out to others to tell them we care.

I know many people feel the changes and quite drastic decisions being made feel too reactionary. Truthfully, I hope they are right. But I believe most of the business owners and leaders are being advised by some of the brightest among us and are making incredibly costly and unpopular decisions based on the facts and likelihood that what we are experiencing today is almost certainly the calm before the storm.

Part of the frustration for so many is that feeling of helplessness and the unknown. I think most believe the vast majority of us will survive this virus and life will eventually go back to something similar to what it was. But for some it won't. Many are on the cusp of either losing their life, their loved one, or their livelihood. Those are the ones we can focus on and help right now.

I've seen in the past few years a growing sentiment that prayer isn't helpful. Every part of my being believes that to be grossly inaccurate. Prayer was never meant to take the place of action, it is an action. One of many at our disposal that can help improve our world. Not necessarily by altering what takes place as much as altering perspective and helping provide fortitude while dealing with the inevitable challenges we all face. I don't profess to be a scientist or a theologian, but what I do know is that our bodies are made of molecules that are in constant motion. We are pure energy. Our entire universe is made up of energy. And whether you want to label it as energy or love or prayer, you do have the ability to harness this power to change our world. Thoughts are powerful. The energy we choose to bring to every situation is powerful. I believe the more of us that are taking the time, this unexpected gift of time, towards deliberate positive thoughts to ask God or the Universe to help those who are about to desperately need it, it can and will ease this assailment about to be upon us.

Take (at least a small fraction of) this time, on your knees, lying in bed, while taking a walk... to pray. Pray for the elderly, who must be terrified. Pray for the Doctors and Nurses who are likely already losing sleep knowing they may be facing incomprehensible situations not to mention time away from their own loved ones. Pray for those who are already sick, so many, who can't handle yet another burden. And pray that the lessons of this time, whatever that is for you, will somehow land us in a more balanced and kinder world.
Debby Vigna
posted 4.20.20

Mimi Lesseos

How am I doing?
In these times of this unusual Coronavirus I feel that the isolation we are required to do in our house is quite an interesting thing. It brings you to a complete stop of the hustle and bustle that we are all used to, I feel I need to hustle and hustle and hustle but I cannot.

As an actress, stuntwoman and producer it is hard for me just to sit at home and be still, with no hustling going on in the entertainment business such as sending out pictures, making telephone calls, visiting with fellow actors and producers, everything came to a complete stop. I feel that I'm forced to actually do the creative things I've always wanted to do. The hustle always got in the way by the time I finished with getting a project together or making my rounds with hustling as a stuntwoman and getting my pictures and resumes out there to the casting directors that all seemed to get in the way of my everyday creativity at home.

Now that the creativity is on and I am free to do my Creations without guilt from not hustling, it feels really good. I have created many custom jean jackets, I am making hundreds of face masks for friends and family with my new Singer sewing machine. My garden is looking fabulous as I go out and work on my flowers and trimming my trees getting prepared for spring. When all this is over or at least settled down and we know more about this coronavirus and things start picking up again I feel that we all will have some beautiful Creations we have made in our home.
I am wishing you all at the Television Academy much blessings health and a beautiful day.
Mimi Lesseos
posted 4.14.20

Craig Bartlett

Hi TV Academy!

One way I've been coping from home is drawing comics in my sketchbook.

Here's one I drew on the first weekend of the pandemic.
[click to enlarge]


Craig Bartlett
posted 4.14.20

Lisa Starrett

Good morning,
I greatly appreciate all the work you all are doing on making sure people are okay and have easy resources to help. Your list of grants and helpful organizations was WONDERFUL. While the grants did not apply to me personally, I recognized several people who would benefit from them and forwarded the information.
This situation is making me realize the benefits of being a part of a union. I stayed "SAG-eligible" for the past year because numerous people, including my agents, encouraged staying out the union as long as possible in order to increase job opportunities. Which is a great and valid point. And people often complain about the lack of benefits they feel from being in the Union. But that is when times are good. I realize now, the value of the Union is best seen during hard times. For example, getting hurt on set. Or... say... a global virus epidemic that shuts down work for two months. That's when you breathe a very big sigh of relief to be involved in a Union dedicated to protecting you.
Fortunately I am very careful with money and have savings stored away. It will hurt, but my savings will get me through the next two months of rent and living supplies. I worry about artist friends who were living month to month and have no idea how to make ends meet.
Thank you for your care and checking in on your members. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Television Academy.
I hope you are staying happy and healthy,
Lisa Starrett
posted 4.7.20

Peter Altschuler

I'm someone who never gets sick. I break, but I don't get ill. So I'm hoping my luck holds out.
But it seems to be absent in one common aspect of life — grocery shopping. I feel as if I've fallen into Soviet Russia in the late 1950s; dropped into those Cold War photographs in "Life" and "Look" magazines showing rows of empty shelves in food markets and retail stores.
There was a joke at the time about a store manager who wanted to curry favor with local Communist officials. So to prove his party loyalty, he arranged to have them visit his store before he opened to the general public. When they entered and saw what was there, the top official turned on the grocer and shouted, "There's nothing here!" "Yes," the man agreed, "but I wanted you to be the first to know."
That's a typical morning for me now. I can get into Whole Foods or Smart & Final or Ralphs or just about any other market in my neighborhood an hour earlier than the general public. So I'm the first to know that there's nothing; that the shelves are just as bare as they were yesterday or a week ago. It's just like watching re-runs of a show I don't like.
My son-in-law runs a restaurant in Manhattan, and it was doing very well... until now, of course. And though he can't open and, given the rate of contagion in the city, wouldn't want to, he can assure me about one thing: there's plenty of food.
On the westside of L.A., a man who supplies meat to the hospitality industry announced on NextDoor that he's now selling directly to the public. His provisions aren't going to restaurants, so they've got to go somewhere, and there's more than enough to go around.
Yet people are hoarding, and shelves remain bare. Some of it's like trying to find enough extras for a crowd scene: grocery workers are just as concerned about contagion as everyone else, and there aren't enough of them to stock the shelves and run the stores. And they aren't being paid enough. Some of it's like student films: they don't pay a penny and their "producers" think that performers can survive on copy and credit and a meal that consists of a couple of slices of pizza.
Still, my luck overall has the benefit of timing, which is something I think we all strive for in "the business."
A year ago, I restocked my earthquake emergency supplies, including a box of N95 masks. Nine months ago, I changed my diet, so the absence of prepared food in the markets doesn't faze me (and I eat less in a day than most Americans consume at a meal). Two months ago (because it was a great deal at Costco), I bought a bidet seat. So all that toilet paper that everyone's buying to sustain them through self-quarantine (followed by a zombie apocalypse and Armaggedon) isn't something I need.
So, with my house disinfected, my trips away from home confined to searching for food, and my family and friends never closer than FaceTime, I'm ready for pilot season. If there is one.

Peter Altschuler
posted 4.7.20

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Opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors.
updated 4.20.20

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