Working as an actress in Los Angeles was hard work. I did a lot of background work in the beginning, moving up to featured roles and finally to co-star. Some of my best memories on La-La-Land were working on the original CSI. I mainly played a featured Nevada State Trooper, but never had any lines. I didn’t care– I loved working on the show. A few times, I played a deaf student when Grissom was losing his hearing.
What was so great about working on CSI? By far, the people were absolutely amazing. Whether they were on the crew or in the cast, they were just amazing and wonderful people to work with. George Eads and Billy Peterson are two of the nicest men that I have ever met. Everyone was just so down to Earth, it made for a terrific work environment. Plus, we filmed in Valencia, north of the big studios in Hollywood, which made the drive from my house a lot nicer. It was such a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
George & Maverick
One of the reasons that I just loved working on CSI was because of George. He didn’t talk too much, but he had this awesome yellow lab named Maverick that he would bring on set. Maverick would sit on the side and just watch the scene. On my first day on set, I had just come from the costume trailer in my Nevada Trooper Uniform and stood near the craft services table, just taking everything in. This big, yellow lab wandered over to me and leaned his head against my leg. I scratched him behind his ear and he kepy pawing my leg. Having a dog of my own, I knew he wanted some food. I looked around to make sure no one was watching and slipped him a cracker. That’s all I gave him– one Ritz cracker. After the scene was through, George came over to me. I didn’t know that it was his dog. He said, “I see you met Maverick.” I introduced myself, he introduced himself, we chatted a little about dogs. It was just so cool to be able to speak with someone that has major success in entertainment when I was a nobody, and have him treat me like just another person. The dog became my best friend, in hopes that I would sneak him some food again. When George was on set, Maverick would sit by me, then look to the craft services table. Then George would come over to collect Maverick and we would chat a little. I didn’t have the opportunity to be in many scenes with George, maybe 8 throughout the two seasons I appeared on the show, but Maverick remembered me and would always come over to me. Which, of course, meant George did, too. (Good boy, Maverick. Gooood boy!)
I Can Hear You, Billy
In a couple of episodes, Grissom (William Peterson) goes to a school for the deaf. Since I know ASL (American Sign Language), I was offered a part as a deaf student. Some real deaf people were brought in for these scenes. Billy was really getting into his role, and trying to learn sign language. I happened to be sitting by myself in the catering tent during lunch, and Billy walked in and sat across from me. He signed, “Can I sit here?” Mouth full, I signed back “Yes”. He started signing the basics, “My name is Billy. What is yours?” So, I would sign back to him. This went on for about 15 minutes as we were eating our lunch. I didn’t want to be the first one to talk, because I didn’t know if he was one of those actors that was playing a character the entire time they are filming. So, I just went along with it. He tried to sign something, then stopped. He tried again, and stopped again. he muttered to himself, “Damn it, how do I sign…” Then he looked at me and said very slowly, “Do… you… read… lips?” Sandwich in hand, I replied, “I guess I can, but I’ve never done it before.” His jaw hit the table and he started laughing. “Oh my God! I thought you were deaf!” I laughed, too, and said that I was glad he thought my sign language was so good. “I’m Billy,” he said. “Do you mind if I have lunch with you?” It was awesome. Just awesome.
Jorja on my Mind
I don’t have any other good stories about interactions of the cast members on set. I just remember how nice and friendly everyone was. Jorja Fox always had a smile and friendly greeting, whether she knew you or not. She was just so unaffected by everything. The same went for Gary Dourdan and Marge Hellenberger. Whenever I watch the show now and see Jorja, I always think of her walking to set, smiling at everyone she passed. It’s sometimes hard for me to watch the show, because it makes me want to go back to acting. (Sort of.) I just really loved the people on the show.
I am forever grateful to Jorja, Billy and George for helping make my memories of Hollywood good ones. I had a lot of lousy experiences on other shows, but was always thrilled when I got a call from my agent to be on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.