Romy Rosemont is the definition of working actor. She’s got a resume a mile long and has been working actor for years.
Prior to last year, you may not have recognized her but she’s appeared in dozens of shows and films since 1990. She was even recurring on CSI.
Well, now I’m sure you’ll recognize her because she’s currently recurring on one of the hottest show’s on TV, Glee, where she play’s Finn’s mom.
This is a great interview from a working actors perspective. We talk about how she has maintained her career, agent hunting and yes, Glee.
For the full interview, click onto the audio link above or download from iTunes.
How did you get your start?
Romy Rosemont: Oh, my gosh. I mean something I always wanted to do which was act. But after I graduated Northwestern I just didn’t know where I fit in. So I worked at ICM and CAA for almost 2 years. And then it just kind of came time that I was like, ‘I got to do this’. And then I quit and made kind of a homemade audition tape that I had sent to someone who worked in an agency called Triad, which was an agency, a long, long time ago. And she hip pocketed me and kind of from there, I just started slowly getting jobs.
I got Taft-Hartley’d in a horror film called Bad Dreams. And then joined the union in one of those kind of movies that are foreign financed and cost like $1.50 to make that do really well in Europe. And that actually was directed by John Turteltaub, I think that was the very first thing he ever did. And I knew the producer, he was a friend of my brother’s, and he hired me to do a little things. And then just slowly, I started to get work. I’ve always been a late bloomer, so it’s never been a big bang. It’s always been a nice steady trickle.
So you said you were hip pocketed. How did you find that first agent? Just through your contacts at CAA, where you worked?
Rosemont: No, no. It was actually through a friend of mine. And the mutual friend had a friend over there and she kind of showed them this homemade audition tape that I actually made for Saturday Night Live. It was made in my parent’s condo in Century City, it could not have been more homemade and it was all improvised and it was probably terrible but she was like, “I think it was kind of funny.” And so, I got a couple of jobs and that allowed me at least to have enough stuff when Triad wanted to sign me because they were such a huge agency. William Morris wound up absorbing Triad. But it was a really big agency. I mean they represented Bruce Willis and a lot of people.
I didn’t make a lot of noise but they got me out on some stuff. And I think whether it was feedback, they just kept working for me. And then it was past the time that they felt that they could do anything, because I don’t really come with bells and whistles, especially being a character actor.
Character actors, you always find they actually work more as they get older. And where I believe I do well is I’m the every-woman. I’m the person who’s your neighbor, I’m your friend, you know? So, I think I had to grow into that because a lot of the times when you’re younger they either want you to be the ingenue or they want you to be character actor that looks a certain way and I was never that person. I think I grew into my acting.
Most people say that they just want to be a working actor. And you’ve worked steadily through your whole career. Is that a combination of finding a great agent and your hard work or is it more you than your agent?
Rosemont: No, honestly I think it’s the relationships you build. I happen to have a fantastic agent and team now. People just have to get you in the room. But it’s kind of your reputation, your work, and I think casting people get to know you, so they call you in. A lot of the jobs I’ve gotten, my manager’s actually called me and said, “Hey, do you know any of these people?” And I either say yes or no. And it happened on a couple of things. And then I wound up getting them. And I think that it is about relationships. I know a couple of my jobs that I’ve booked, casting wouldn’t see me.
And then my manager’s call and said, “Do you know any of these people?” And I said, ‘actually I know that person.’ I know the writer or I knew him from class. Because it’s interesting who you start out with. Someone goes the way of acting or someone goes the way of producing or writing or executive. And if I feel that I really am right and can make something unique from the audition, from the part, then I’ll say make the call. If it’s just trying to get me in the room, then you don’t want to use up those favors. You can’t just wait for the phone to ring. And you can’t just wait for your agent to do it all because they’re not going to do it. They’ve got tons more clients. I really do think that for it to really work it’s got to be a collaborative thing.
In my opinion, you’ve got to provide them with information because, especially say 5 years or so, they don’t know the relationships I have or the fans of mine that are out there as far as the executives or casting people. And then they go from there. I definitely believe that now it’s the job of agents to convince the casting people that know me to broaden their vision of me. Because a lot of the times people think they know what you can do and they don’t.
How many agents or managers did you have until you found the ones you’re working with now?
Rosemont: I’ve had probably 3 managers maybe. But agents- agents I’ve definitely had a handful. With these [new]agents it’ll be two years and I’m very, very happy with them. They’re an amazing agency. Domain is the name of it. And they’re young and they’re sharp and smart and they get it. And that’s not to say that prior to that I didn’t have that. It’s just you change. It’s like from a woman’s perspective, when you change hair stylists just because you want someone to view your hair differently. It really does come to that; there are certain times where you change representation because you want to shake it up a bit. Not because there’s necessarily something lacking but you just need a different perspective.
Let’s talk about Glee for a minute. How did you get the part? And when you were auditioning for it did you know that it would be recurring?
Rosemont: I knew that it had the possibility of recurring because when I was asked to audition for it- I had worked with Ryan Murphy on Nip/Tuck, which had been years prior. He’s such a kind and sweet man. I was actually originally called in to audition for Jane Lynch’s part, which I knew I would never get. And then when they called me back and said, ‘Would she audition for this?’ there was no lines in the pilot. So I was like, “There’s no lines? What do you mean they want me to audition for it?” And they said, just come in and read some material from something else and Ryan promises that she will recur in the show. And I said okay. If that’s what he says then I’ll trust that. He’s really such a loyal man and he’s a man of his word and I trusted that.
And went in and auditioned and got it and let me have a little bit of fun in the pilot with improvising situations. The development of this character, I think he knows better than I do. Because it’s in his head and hasn’t reached paper, but I think there’s a lot of growth that can happen with this character. It’s an incredible show that has a ton of people and I think that she offers a different perspective, especially for an audience. I think that character’s a wonderful addition for the every-woman to relate to.
The show is a huge hit, how has it affected your career? Are you getting offers to do more things from that?
Rosemont: I’ve actually just finished last night an episode of Private Practice that I got offered. I got the offer and I was like, “what, are you sure?” I don’t know if it came from Glee or not. I won’t question it, but people were definitely more familiar with that. I mean, I recurred on CSI for 3 years as one of their lab techs for 14 episodes and I never got work out of that. So I think it’s just- again, it’s this character. I think it’s kind of the marrying of me to the character. Whatever that chemistry is, for some reason, I struck a nerve for the 40 year old woman.
You’ve been on a bunch of shows where you’re a recurring character. How far in advanced do you know that you’re going to work on the show? Like, if you want to take a vacation or you book another show. How does that work?
Rosemont: Usually if you book another show, you let them know. For example, there’s probably going to be a couple episodes of Glee which I’m going to be in but I booked a few days on this movie, but Glee gets precedence. So,they just try to work it out.
I’m still on the open market so, out of respect to them, definitely you let them know what’s up. If you get a job, you let them know that you got the job. And they usually let you know a couple weeks in advance. I was actually in New York and I found out I was working and had to come back. But that’s life of the actor and we’re grateful to come back. We don’t get to do it as often as we like anyway.
Usually if I start taking a vacation that’s when I start getting a lot of auditions.
Rosemont: Oh yeah, it’s absolutely amazing. Whenever you’re very busy is when you get auditions. Or you bought a plane ticket. Exactly. You actually plunked out the money for a plane ticket, that’s amazing.
Now, you are married to Steven Root, one of the best character actors around. Have you ever worked together?
Rosemont: No we’ve never actually- I mean, we actually did an episode of CSI but never together. And we’re going to actually be in the Kevin Smith movie but we won’t be working together. I mean it would be a lot of fun to work together but you know, hopefully that’s somewhere down the road.
What’s your advice to actors?
Rosemont: I say this to any actor who is starting to pursue it. You’ve got to love it more than anything else. You’ve got to want it more than anything else. The way you have to suffer for it, so to speak, and give up, and the sacrifices you have to make are big. And just all the survival jobs and I would always take kind of crap jobs and I’ve done so many crap jobs that are unbelievable. You have to throw your ego away and nose to the grindstone and want it. I believe its okay to get discouraged because we’re human but then you just brush yourself off and get up the next day and say I still want it and I’m going to still go get it. And the thing is, it can all change on a dime. It can all change on a dime and that’s whats so bizarre about this business. It usually is, you go to law school you become a lawyer, you go to med school you become a doctor, you will be actually doing what you are schooled to do but in any kind of profession as an artist you aren’t guaranteed work.
That’s where I believe that persistence and tenacity wins out a lot. And there’s definitely a time where you don’t want to sacrifice anymore and so you go and you do something else. But until that time, I think that it’s so important to just keep that passion alive and know that this is what you were meant to do.
If you’re doing it to become famous? I don’t understand that approach to it. But I think if you really want to become an actor- if you can support yourself in other ways and acting is what you love then you’ll find your way or it’ll find you.