Careers in the entertainment industry can be mysterious to beginners and even to those who work in the industry.
Actor Randall Park said when he first decided to pursue Hollywood in the early 2000s, people told him to leave Samuel French film and theater bookstore.
“If you were an actor in Los Angeles, you were there for information,” he said.
The first Samuel French store in LA opened downtown in 1929 and moved to Hollywood in 1947. Until the 1970s, the LA business sold and licensed plays in the area.
But eventually, the shop also provided resources for people interested in pursuing a Hollywood career. It sold books of plays that actors could use for audition monologues; Entertainment character biographies; Guides on various aspects of filmmaking; and listings of agents and casting and production companies.
Former general manager Joyce Mehess, who worked at Samuel French from 1991 until it closed two years ago, recalls that Park came to the store before he became famous. She said she was so happy when she saw him on her TV screen.
“Many thought we were an agency,” says Mehess. “And we said, ‘No, we are an information center. I can give you a listing. I can give you a piece that suits your type and you can research it from there. You can certainly ask questions; I will be at my desk. And maybe a big star will pass by and inspire you. ‘”
Mehess’ mission for the store was to create inspiration and community. It wasn’t just about selling books, it was about encouraging nervous newcomers to make those calls and take these risks.
But Samuel French closed in March 2019. Concord Music acquired it as part of the company’s foray into the theater. At the time a Petition trying to save the bookstore has collected almost 8,000 signatures. The square has been empty for two years.
“When that bookstore closed, it really created a hole,” said Park.
Although there are numerous resources online, it can sometimes be difficult for newbies to find the right ones.
Here at the Los Angeles Times, we want to be your new destination for this type of information.
This guide provides explanation and advice to help you start and build your career in the entertainment industry. And feel free to ask us your questions, and we’ll do our best to find an expert to answer them.